In the past, only big BPO companies can hire people as outsourced workers. However, that model might not fit everyone. It could be that there are no existing BPO companies that are in your area. After all, they require massive capitalization. It could also be that you prefer to work on a project basis so that you can manage your own time and choose when to work and what to work on. It could be that you only want to work part-time so that you will be able to earn some extra cash to pay for something that you want to be. The answer to that model is a global outsourcing platform that enables employers and contractors to meet and make work deals. The biggest platform is oDesk.

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oDesk is the world’s biggest global job marketplace. It is geared towards matching employers and employees. Employers get to advertise the jobs that they needed to get done and interview people who apply for them. There’s a great messaging tool that allows communication and attachment of files. Employers can also view the personal profile and look at the ratings and reviews on that person’s work. They can also watch how efficient the work is getting done because oDesk takes snapshots of the worker’s desktop at random times.

Matching is also very specific because it identifies the number of hours needed, the skills required, the salary range, and even whether it is done on an hourly or fixed price basis. It makes it easier for freelancers to search for a job that interests them. The freelancer can also take several free skill tests to make him stand out even more. The nice thing about oDesk is that it doesn’t have a membership fee. The employee’s income is not touched because the 10% oDesk fee is charge to the employer.

Because oDesk has the biggest traffic, it is also vulnerable to the biggest scams and problems. There are many employers who post questionable or bogus work. Since the funds are not held in escrow for the employees, there is a risk of nonpayment. This is especially true for fixed price work. With millions of people looking for work, it can get competitive. Lowballing is a common phenomenon, which can the drive the rates too low. On the part of the employers, there is a risk on the quality of work being done. Since the work is outsourced, you run the risk of getting low quality output. Everybody, employer and employee alike should do their due diligence before starting a contract. The benefits do outweigh the costs.

Still, although I had some bad experience as an employer I also found an awesome team who works for me whenever I need to get work done. So I can just highly recommend it even if you may sometimes do not find the right person - try to get a test-job done first so you don't have a risk of losing money.

Screenshots get automatically taken by Odesk so I can see when my contractor was working and what job he fulfilled. Although I first hired people for a fixed-price I highly recommend that you hire by hour - it often can get much cheaper and you really see that the person is working. Sometimes though it can be interesting for you to hire for a fixed-price. Try both, so you know what is best for your job.

oDesk is a great platform for the freelance marketplace. It’s matured into a reliable product that enables a truly globalized labor force.