A Common Practice That Can Damage Your Professional Reputatione_darrellj | Oct 28, 2014
As a reminder, I’ll be dropping in from time to time to discuss behaviors or policies that benefit or impact the community. One of the first on my list is something we call, “Jobs without Payment.” This is essentially when a freelancer is hired by a client but no payments are made and money never exchanges hands.
A high percentage of underperforming Elance freelancers have numerous Jobs without Payment in their work history. And many of the freelancers on the list for review and account closures this year fell into this category.
These jobs damage the reputation of the community and we consider them to be a “red flag” in a freelancer’s profile. Getting paid and receiving Final Feedback is critical to building a reputation and work history here on Elance (clients can’t leave Final Feedback on Jobs without Payment). Because of this, we want to prevent Jobs without Payment, and to help you do so as well.
We’ve dug into many cases of Jobs without Payment and we find the root cause is often a simple matter of unmet expectations. Clients are unclear in their job requirements and the job scope ends up being different or unachievable. Or freelancers may overextend themselves by taking the job and over-scheduling their time, or by finding they don’t have the skills and experience required to complete the project.
So what can we do about these jobs?
Both Elance and you, our valued freelancers, can help.
On our end we’re doing our best to properly account for such jobs in a freelancer’s work history. First, for those rare, unavoidable situations when moving forward with a job just isn’t possible (the client changes his/her mind on the project or unforeseen events occur), you’ll find that one or two Jobs without Payment will not negatively impact your reputation. Additionally, when we see a Job without Payment pop up on a freelancer’s account and we find that it relates to a client with a lot of these job results or a history of poor feedback, we won’t record the lack of payment as a negative signal on a freelancer’s review.
For your part, it’s critical to only apply to and accept jobs you’re confident you can complete with success. Once accepted, carefully set and agree upon expectations with your client.
Ask questions. Make sure to discuss project deadlines, work deliverables and communication plans in your proposal/application and interview. Document these decisions carefully in your project’s Terms & Milestones.
Set clear expectations. Through detailed discussions about deadlines, communication styles and deliverable requests, you may uncover any mismatch in cost, skills or time that if not updated will lead to a poor outcome for the contract.
Interview your clients. Avoid difficult projects by ensuring the client is a) direct and reasonable in their expectations, and b) willing to clarify any open questions you might have before accepting a job. Also, only begin work on jobs where funding is in place. We can’t help recover funds that were never available in the first place.
I’m sure there are additional tips that could be of value for avoiding Jobs without Payment and I would welcome and appreciate suggestions from members of the community. My hope is that together, through our Trust efforts in the marketplace and freelancer and client education, we can make Jobs without Payment a thing of the past.