Local startups hire global help via online service

oDesk addresses local skills gap and isn't outsourcing, says CEO Gary Swart.

Freelancing websites like oDesk let startups hire help from around the world.

Freelancing websites like oDesk let startups hire help from around the world.

Case study: hiring online

Griffiths, a Sydney railway engineer by day, told Computerworld Australia he relied on oDesk to build 1Ad.com, an online service for organisations to post job ads to multiple career websites.

Griffiths used oDesk to find help with PHP, HTML4, CSS and graphic design. He searched for and hired three contractors. The site has been under development for about six months, and Griffiths said he’s spent about $12,000 on the oDesk hires.

Read more: Success factors in IT contracting

Griffiths said he’s mostly satisfied by the work of the contractors. With two of them, he can assign a task and “let them run with it,” he said.

However, he said he has had some trouble managing his graphic designer, who seems to have “too much work on at the moment.”

While his current contractors are from Russia and the Ukraine, Griffiths said they speak English well and he’s had no communications issues. They usually talk over Skype and email, he said.

Griffiths said he likes that oDesk contractors have been flexible to his schedule.

“A lot of my work’s done at night and by email,” he said. In addition, Griffiths said he’s been able to temporarily put the project on hold when things get too busy at his day job.

Griffiths said he plans to work with his current contractors on a continuing basis.

“I see it as building a team,” he said. “I’ve got a team of guns on call.”

Case study: Finding contract work

Charchar said oDesk helped him become a full-time freelancer doing Web design and development.

Charchar has used oDesk for about two years. The first time was to hire for a friend’s project, but six months later he decided to try the other side.

“I started out doing a couple of really cheap jobs and got some [positive] feedback on my profile,” he said. “After that people started to contact me.”

“After about two or three months on oDesk, I got enough work to leave my full-time job.”

Charchar estimated that at first, he made about one-third of what he would get doing full-time work in Australia. A year and a half later, his hourly pay is comparable what he’d make in a full-time position, he said.

When he started, Charchar applied for jobs posted on the website but as he gained feedback on the site he began getting job offers. “Over the last six months, I haven’t contacted anyone—everyone just contacts me.”

Charchar said he has not been deterred by the large amount of competition for jobs on oDesk.

“Much of the competition is not very good,” he said. “If you really put effort into applying for a job, you’ve got a good chance of getting it. And if not, you’ll get the next one.”

Charchar added that he’s built relationships with several of his clients. “It’s good to keep working with the same people, because you just get more of a feel for what they want and need.”

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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