How To Review A Provider ProfileElance_Cathy | Feb 06, 2009
I've spent a lot of time of late talking to employers and helping them through the proposal review and selection process. One of the things I'm finding is that many prospective clients like to search Elance for providers based on specific requirements, and proactively invite selected providers to submit proposals. But, what to look for when reviewing an Elance profile page?
Here are techniques to help you quickly – yet thoroughly – evaluate each Profile to determine which provider is the right fit for your work.
Key areas to review:
Providers have the option of displaying skills on their Profile page. Skills can be self-rated, meaning providers evaluate themselves, or tested, using one of the 275+ free Skills Tests available on Elance. Tested skills show how a candidate scored relative to all the other individuals who took the same test.
How can you use this information? Tested skills substantiate a provider's skills – and also show the provider has taken the time to build a strong Profile. If a provider is self-rated, you will need to look deeper into their Profile to assess their skills, for example by checking out their Feedback, their Portfolio and other listed credentials.
Job posters leave feedback after a job is done. Some providers on Elance have feedback spanning dozens or even hundreds of jobs. You can sort feedback by sub-category to focus on jobs similar to yours. Checking a provider's Feedback is an excellent way to get a sense of the provider's skills, experience, communication skills, and overall professionalism. When reviewing feedback, take the time to read the comments. Even though there is a numerical rating scale, different clients rate providers differently. Someone may rate a provider as a "4 out of 5” for Quality when the comments suggest the provider did exceptional work. (In other words: a "4 out of 5" for one client may really be a "5 out of 5" for another client.)
How can you use this information? Feedback can give you an overall feel for a provider's work history and also specific clues to their performance. Look for comments that express issues important to you; if creativity is really important to you, and past buyers mention the provider is extremely creative and original, that's a great sign. If schedule is critical and the provider has a history of missing deadlines, you may want to continue evaluating other providers.
Portfolios give you clues about a provider’s style and taste: they allow providers to showcase their work through tangible examples. Since most creative work is subjective, reviewing Portfolios will help you identify providers that can match your needs. While you can also request samples of past work during the "interview" phase, take the time to check the provider's Portfolio in advance.
How can you best use Portfolios? Look for examples that relate directly to your needs. If you need a press release written, look for press release samples, and if you don't find related examples in the Portfolio, ask the provider to provide a sample or two from a previous job.
Keywords are skills that providers use to help clients find them through the Elance search feature. Take a look at keywords to get a sense of the type of work they hope to attract.
Why is that important? Keywords show you a provider's areas of interests.
How can you use this information? Providers with keywords matching your project are eager to perform that type of work; that's a good sign. If your project falls outside a provider's stated areas of expertise, look closely at their Portfolio and feedback – it's possible they have simply neglected to list that skill. If they don't have appropriate previous work experience, decide whether you want them to gain experience by working on your project.
A provider's Summary not only illustrates their skills and services; it also provides information about their professional background, references, credentials, typical business terms and licenses.
How can you use this information? Use the Summary to help you determine which providers to invite to submit a proposal on your project. This is one of the only 'free-form' areas on the profile which allows providers to fully describe their range of services.
In addition to getting to know the range of services available, be sure to review the description for expertise that directly matches your needs. If you need specific skills, look for licenses or credentials that validate the provider's stated skills. You can also get a feel for the provider's background, personality, and in some cases their preferred communication and working style.
Finally, take a step back. Think about each provider in a more general way. Each component of the Profile forms a part of the whole: Consider their feedback, their portfolio, their skills… what their Profile says about them overall. A provider who has included a limited Summary but has outstanding Feedback, an impressive Portfolio, and tested and verified Skills may still be a great choice for your project.
And remember – if at any point during the Profile review process you need more information, ask! Great providers will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
Are you a provider looking for inspiration for your own profile? Check out these great profiles from elancers:
Nix Solutions (Web & Programming)
Jenifer Toussant (Admin Support)
The NetMen Corp (Design & Multimedia)
Synapse India (Web & Programming)
The Write Genie (Writing & Translation)
Media Financial Consulting (Engineering & Manufacturing)
Rebecca742 (Writing & Translation)