3 Ways To Find High-Quality People On oDesk and eLance + Why You’re Probably Hiring The Wrong People

There was a period of time where I felt like there was no way to get good quality work done by anyone on oDesk or eLance. At that time I thought I had it all figured-out, I could pay someone far away $8 for something that someone here would charge $50 an hour for and boom, my business would be growing at a fraction of the cost.


I hired a lot of people on oDesk and what I learned is that if you pay $8/hour for a job that should cost $50/hour, don’t just expect a fraction of the cost, expect a fraction of the quality. Especially when it came to developers, pay an “Expert PHP Developer” $6 an hour and see how great your new app looks when it’s done.


Here’s the disconnect. At the end of the day you do get what you pay for, on oDesk you can definitely save money but try to save too much and you’ll dramatically sacrifice quality. Here are three ways to find high-quality people on oDesk:

  1. Don’t look for people with incredibly low hourly rates – when you first go onto oDesk you can be tempted to hire people charing $3 or $4 an hour, it seems to good to be true. It is. Try to get above $15, you’ll find much better quality in this range.
  2. Find someone in the same country you’re in – it’s nice to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone that works for you. If you can’t do that then you’re stuck trying to find them on Skype or email. Yes, you’ll pay more to hire local but you’ll without a doubt get better quality and communications.
  3. Don’t just let people come to you – I used to post jobs on oDesk and just let everyone come to me. Now when I post a job I go out and try to find my own top three candidates. Remember, there are a lot of lower-quality people on oDesk looking for any job they can get and they’ll most likely email you right away. The best people who are in high demand might not ever apply for your job…which is why it’s up to you to find them.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Joe February 26, 2014, 5:51 pm

    Well this reminds me of a question but remember well where to be, although I am not saying that the place for other issues …

    My answer is this is best for me will find these websites a freelancer to do a job well, I do not usually expose myself to hire people without first knowing his career and give their work results with their own customers.

    Then see if it is well rounded and give satisfactory results talking numbers per hour worked, salary per month ………… I’m always open to all possibilities that I can afford to pay.

  • Nick February 26, 2014, 6:08 pm

    You’ve got this fantastic idea for a smartphone app but you’re not a developer by any stretch. So you need to hire someone to develop your idea. I’ve seen those places you mention, as well as other. They’re intriguing…..

    What I’d like to know is this — how can you trust people you will most likely never meet? I mean, even people you know can screw you over, people local to you even. So what’s stopping someone from a far off place?

    Perhaps an NDA? But even if they agree to sign one, how can you enforce an NDA on someone if they’re in another country?

    • Morgan February 26, 2014, 9:51 pm

      @Nick – that’s a good question. That’s why I recommend hiring within your country, all of the people I hire live in the US. As for giving them access to private information I definitely wouldn’t do that off the bat. Over time someone can earn your trust but as with hiring anyone in business it all takes time.

      As for NDA’s, don’t waste your time. Hire someone that you can call on the phone, heck maybe even meet for coffee. Pay them a fair wage, treat them well and you’ll get results.

  • James February 27, 2014, 4:06 am

    Do you have a preference eLance or oDesk? I’d agree with everything you’ve said and add to make sure you look closely at a persons previous job history on that platform and assess how closely those jobs relate to your project. oDesk is definitely my preference.

  • Nick February 27, 2014, 5:32 am

    Hi Morgan, thanks for the advice. I have one question, however… Its not private information I am too worried about giving them. I wouldnt do that off the bat – for sure. What I am concerned with is that I would have to explain the idea to a developer for the developer to do the work. Once they have the idea, how can I protect that idea from being given to one of the developers friends/partners (this country or some other country)…. You know what I mean?

    I sit down for coffee and explain my idea, show them mockups, wireframes, etc and ask them how much to bring the idea to fruition. They wont be able to do more than a ballpark number at the first meeting – they’ll need some details and a few days to come up with a solid quote. Or am I missing something here??

  • Richard February 27, 2014, 9:16 am

    Of course that CAN happen but I assure you, nobody goes on a job interview with the intention of stealing someones idea. If I was in your shoes and I was really worried about this, I would casually mention that it’s a patented idea. Also, if you’ve done your due-diligence on the prospect properly, references etc, this shouldn’t be a concern.

  • Cosmin February 28, 2014, 9:21 am


    Ideas are fairly easy to come up with, it’s the execution, that is the hardest part. Also once your idea is brought to life, and you app is out in the wild, nothing can stop other people to copy it. Don’t stress too much about it.

  • Nick February 28, 2014, 7:23 pm

    @Richard – thanks for the tip…..

    @Cosmin – thanks also, but let me say this — ideas may be easy to come up with by why give someone who knows HOW to execute your idea?

    It may sound paranoid but think about it logically? I do not know the first thing about software development. I tell you my idea and as a software developer you now have the idea plus you also have the knowledge of how to at least attempt that execution. I cant attempt the execution.

    So for folks like me, we get worried about spouting off our ideas to those who know how to develop. 🙂

    As far as the premise of once the app is out in the wild, sure, I agree, all bets are off. Others can/may/will copy. Thats life. But right now I am holding several ideas for which there are no apps and I would like to be the first with them.

    I may have to teach myself how to develop software. 🙂

  • shaEina March 30, 2014, 5:36 pm

    I’d have to agree with you especially on #1. This is the reason why I left oDesk as a freelancer. It’s so difficult to find a job that’s suited for you because there are a lot of people who are willing to sell their services for an absurdly low rate. What’s depressing is that most employers would go for these cheap but incompetent candidates.
    Luckily for me, I’ve found a full time and awesome job at Staff.com. You guys might want to check it out. It’s just like oDesk and Elance but they focus more on full time jobs.


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