Archive for the ‘oDesk’ Tag

The Interview Process is Flawed, Obsolete

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 by Seth Weinstein

Another day, another eyebrow-raising statement delivered to your eyes courtesy of Work 3.0. Today, I’m crusading against the ubiquitous Interview Process For Job-Getting, which as you may gather from the title, I am not the biggest fan of.

I’m not alone in this opinion. I went to the streets and talked to friends and colleagues about their feelings on the interview process, and they were quick to poke holes in it. The biggest complaint, they felt, was that the interview process creates its own separate universe. In this interviewniverse, they are encouraged to drastically alter the way they think, act, and speak, and all too often these forced changes are in no way indicative of their ability to actually get the job done.

A recurring gripe was the constant presence of lies in every step of the interview process. Candidates are of course supposed to be truthful, but that doesn’t change the fact that resumés are embellished, piercings and tattoos are removed or covered, and you have to memorize answers that employers “want to hear” instead of truthful ones. Additional stress factors emerged; one individual noted the very relatable feeling of dread when an interview is approaching. Another pointed out that interviews are really the only time we expect a person will drop all pretense and straight-up brag about how awesome they are, which is something people tend not to do in real life.

Indeed, the disconnect between “what happens during an interview” and “what working at the company is really like” bothered many potential job-seekers. If the job doesn’t require a large degree of interpersonal communication, the interview will bear little resemblance to any work the candidate will actually face on the job. Additionally, being good at interviews is a skill unto itself, and a person sufficiently talented at this endeavor could potentially find themselves in any sort of position they want, regardless of actual talent.

It’s not just the people on the receiving end of the interview that have problems, either. Managers, small business owners, and team leaders who I talked to shared similar views. They reaffirmed the notion that interviews are a completely separate world from the rest of the job, stating that a successful interviewer must have a whole litany of skills that may or may not be relevant to their workplace.

The candidate interview process is a feat unto itself for hiring managers. They must know their company inside and out and have an exact idea of what they are looking for in an employee before the process even starts. And then come the fun parts. There’s the act of making sure the right people apply for the position, sorting through a stack of resumés which (we now know) are going to be at least partially fictitious, and the logistical nightmare of finding time in the work day to schedule these meetings. Then each candidate needs to be thoroughly vetted with secret unwritten “curveball” questions, inquisitions about their true employment intentions, validation of their alleged skills, and their fit with the company atmosphere. Oh, and all this time you’re also closely watching their nonverbal cues to see if they’re lying.

Fortunately, the age of the interview does not have to continue forever, and the Internet is greatly catalyzing its exit. Sites like oDesk, LinkedIn, and (you guessed it) Ziptask attempt to remove a lot of the guesswork involved in interviews by making it entirely about the qualifications of the candidate. Skills are verified either by the platform or by other users, and search tools help weed out poor candidates almost immediately. With Ziptask, the entire process is automated and completely hands-off; workers are verified, classified, and assigned work by the Ziptask team, and potential employers don’t even have to talk to them if they don’t want. And since it’s a skill-based marketplace, you don’t have to worry about accidentally hiring this guy based on his stellar interviewing skills.

Yeesh.

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How Ziptask Manages the Hassles of Onshore Outsourcing

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 by Seth Weinstein

An editorial published by Professor Ilan Oshri at the Loughborough School of Business has given us a “state of the industry” view of outsourcing. The findings are promising for those in the field: the IT and business process outsourcing industries combined are reported to have a market to the tune of $435 billion, with projected growth in both sectors over the next two years.

Professor Oshri went on to delineate the perks and hassles of onshore, near-shore, and offshore outsourcing, going into detail on which is easier to manage, recruit for, scale, and train. He states at one point that for companies that must outsource, “in the current economic climate it would be politically correct to pursue an onshore setting.” But he is not without his criticisms of the methodology; he goes on to say that onshore firms often don’t offer the scale available to offshore vendors, and that sticking to onshore outsourcing may limit the talent pool that clients can draw from.

Ziptask, I am happy to say, successfully averts these problems while still providing the advantages of local outsourcing. Our talent pool is both wide and deep, pulling in not only our own workers but applicants from oDesk’s enormous stable as well. In fact, it is with this facet that Ziptask solves all the aforementioned problems in one fell swoop.

We hire workers worldwide, with the only requirement that they have a computer and speak English. So in addition to talent found outside the country, we also have a large group of workers from right here in the US. Why choose between onshore, offshore, or near-shore when you can essentially have all three? And Ziptask’s robust system handles scalability exceedingly well, again due to our large pool of workers at the ready. Ziptask can just as easily handle 20 minutes of work or 20 hours. And again, since our pool is so wide and varied, you never have to worry about not being able to find the right worker for the job. In fact, Ziptask handles the entire hiring process for you!

In these ways and more, we find that Ziptask provides a great option for businesses who are considering outsourcing part of their operations. There really is no other business that straddles the line like Ziptask does, and if Professor Oshri’s predictions are any indication, we’re going to be doing very well for the next couple of years. Hire us, and our success can be your success too.

Ziptask: The Killer App of Cloud Labor

Friday, November 2nd, 2012 by Seth Weinstein

Quite an assertion, right? You’ve gotta be pretty bold to make the claim that your service is the be-all-end-all, better than the rest, the only one worth using. But in the case of Ziptask, it’s pretty close to the truth. We pride ourselves on a “whole package”-type deal, and that’s the key factor that sets us above all the other outlets. They may provide aspects of cloud labor or outsourcing, and some of them are very good at what they do, but if you want the full package, Ziptask is the only one that’s gonna do it for you.

Of course, I couldn’t make a claim like this without some evidence to back it up. So allow me to contrast Ziptask against some of our top competitors, so you can see exactly where Ziptask fills in the gaps.

Ziptask

Just so we have a baseline, allow me to describe the Total Ziptask Package. When you send your work to Ziptask, the only other thing you are required to do is provide instructions on how to complete said work and approve a price. Ziptask’s in-house team and pool of freelancers then work together, completely autonomously, to find the best possible worker for the job, assign them the work, establish a per-minute price estimate, check progress, and assure the quality of the completed work. For the person using Ziptask, the process looks something like this: submit the assignment and instructions, receive and approve a price estimate, go do something else for a while, and pay a fee when the work is completed to your satisfaction. Completely independent and hands-off.

oDesk/Elance

Let’s get this straight; here at Ziptask, we friggin’ love oDesk. We get a ton of our freelancers directly from their pool, and they and Elance are both very good at what they do. But what they do is simply provide a space for freelancers to gather. They don’t do any hiring, work assignments, cost estimates, or quality assurance in-house. These platforms do not handle any of the interaction between the freelancer and the hiring entity. They basically boil down to an online stack of resumés, albeit an easily-searchable one.

Amazon Mechanical Turk

With Turk, we see a shift towards the automation that Ziptask users enjoy so much. Once a user creates a job on Turk and submits it, the work is done automatically by whatever users are sufficiently qualified and motivated. The actual process of the work getting done can be unmonitored and hands-off, which is nice for simple work that doesn’t need a lot of skill. The downside is the enormous amount of effort and brainpower that it takes to set up a project on the platform. Even though great leaps have been made in usability, the mTurk interface is still very clunky and confusing for a newcomer. Add that to the standard headaches of finding a way to format your assignment on their system, deciding on a “sweet-spot” price point that will attract workers without breaking your wallet, and the fact that quality assurance is not guaranteed, and many will find that Turk is too much of a hassle for anything but the most rudimentary tasks.

A Real-Life, Flesh-And-Blood In-House Worker

Just for fun. I probably don’t have to describe what an in-house employee does; you most likely are one, or have several working for you. An in-house employees can offer a lot of advantages, but Ziptask still has them beat. A worker can only take so much work in a day, of course, and scalability is rough since it requires you to actually go through the process of locating, interviewing, hiring, negotiating with, and providing office space for a new employee. Additionally, many workers are skilled in one area and not so hot in others, meaning that if it’s versatility you’re after, you once again have to go to the ol’ Resumé Well. And lastly, most workers are either salaried or paid hourly, meaning that unless you’re monitoring them for the entire time they’re at work, you’re most likely paying for them to browse the Internet at some point or another.

I may be slightly biased, but from where I’m sitting, Ziptask looks like a pretty sweet deal. I like to describe it as a “black box”, where the only things you have to worry about are the input and the output. The rest is completely automated by Ziptask’s team.

And honestly, we could all use one less thing we have to worry about in our daily lives.

Oh, and if you know of a platform that compares favorably to Ziptask, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Outsourcing Helps Strengthen Your Start-up

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 by Seth Weinstein

If you’re just launching a new business, you might think that outsourcing some of the work would be the last thing on your mind. But according to this article by Hugo Greenhalgh on Techcircle.in, outsourcing certain aspects of your work can be the difference between a lean, well-oiled machine of a company and you working 80-hour weeks.

The article describes some companies that found great success when they allowed certain practices to be taken care of outside the office. In a nutshell, here are the reasons why they found these methods so helpful.

Advantage #1: Rapid Growth Minus Overhead

Outsourcing allows your start-up to have all the qualities of a large office with many departments, but at a fraction of the cost. Especially when your business is new, the costs of hiring and training staff can be off-putting  But often, a third-party firm or freelancer is available for pennies on the dollar compared to adding a whole new department to your burgeoning business. Neil Asher of The Advanced Child Academy built his entire business model around Elance, and ended up cutting costs by about 80%. Ziptask could offer comparable results to many new businesses.

Advantage #2: The World of Workers at Your Fingertips

Even if a new business seeks to hire on a large scale, they may run into stumbling blocks if there are no available workers in the area with the proper qualifications. Companies that tap into tools like Ziptask, Elance, and oDesk can find talented workers from anywhere on the planet, eager and ready to go. And keeping these workers in their home towns instead of forcing them to relocate is a whole other set of advantages: office costs are lowered, globalization improves, and everyone’s happy.

Advantage #3: The Power Shift

While it might seem reasonable to think that outsourcing so many departments would lead to an overall loss of control, the individuals who report from the front lines will tell you otherwise. Lief Schneider, managing partner at Schneider Bartosch Communications, was asked about providing good service while outsourcing. He says, “You don’t need to be an expert in everything – in fact no one can be, or should claim to be – but you do need to have access to the best experts and you do need to know how to manage them. We effectively outsource any work that is not senior managerial activity.” The mark of any good manager is the ability to effectively delegate work, whether it’s to the person in the cubicle next door or to a firm halfway around the world.

These people have found success by relinquishing the less hand-on portions of their business to workers outside their offices. Ziptask hopes to help business accomplish these same goals, with the added advantage that with their system, you don’t need to waste time tracking down the perfect worker. If you want your start-up to operate like the big guys, outsource the small stuff to give yourself the time and brainpower for the larger issues, and your bank statements will confirm the wisdom of your choice.

 

Never Hire a Freelancer Again

Friday, October 5th, 2012 by shawn@ziptask.com

Don’t get ahead of me.

Freelancers, for many industries, are a fact of life. Media outlets hire them constantly to get fresh perspectives on newsworthy events. Programming development firms often include a revolving door of freelance or third-party programming and QA teams. And many artists subside entirely on freelancing, taking different jobs every few weeks or even every few days. According to this survey from CareerBuilder.com, one in three companies will turn to staffing/recruitment firms and freelancers this year.

But the process of employing freelancers? Sucks. No denying.

At your basest level is the initial act of simply finding a worker you want on your team. You spend money on job ads and spend time posting and responding to offers on Craigslist or LinkedIn or Freelancer or oDesk, hoping against hope to find the one useful name in a pile of thousands. And we haven’t even gotten to the interview process yet, which you can bet will involve miscommunication about the parameters and expectations surrounding the work, salary negotiations in a field that has an extremely wide range of pay scales, and inevitably wasting your time on the handfuls of potentials that simply aren’t going to be a help to your company.

Yes, the process of hiring freelancers is a huge pain in the butt. But as I mentioned, it’s a necessary evil for the industries that take advantage of it. Freelancer community FreelanceSwitch highlights the advantages quite succinctly: freelancers are adaptable, shrink your office, cost less, and (best of all) are expendable once the work is done. “[Employees] cost far more than what they actually take home: payroll taxes, health insurance and other benefits, equipment for their use, even the coffee you provide to employees are costs that you won’t have with a freelancer. When you add up all those numbers, you’ll likely find that hiring a freelancer costs less on an hourly basis than an employee with similar skills — and you don’t have to keep a freelancer on when your project is complete.”So what is the savvy businessperson to do? If you’re reading this, you may already know the answer.

Try Ziptask.

Ziptask gives you the advantages of hiring a freelancer (or team of freelancers) to work on projects involving Microsoft Office, Photoshop, graphic design, and minor programming, without the hassle of actually finding them yourself. Ziptask has a team of thousands of freelancers on-call, already vetted for reliability and classified by the type of work at which they excel; you can omit the interview process entirely. The fees are fixed and by-the-minute, completely skipping over the need for negotiations; you pay only for the work that gets completed, and you’ll never be surprised when the bill comes. And thanks to Ziptask’s hearty QA and management staff, you can be assured that your instructions will be crystal-clear and followed out to the letter, ensuring results that are professional, fast, and on-brand. I challenge you to find a freelance portal or third-party firm with that sort of guarantee.

Instead of spending hours, days, or weeks gathering a team, sorting out assignments, communicating endlessly, and sweating over budgets, Ziptask simply asks for your project files and a description of the work required.That’s it. It’s submitted, and the only thing you have to do after that is hit the “work approved” button when it’s done. And instead of blowing money and effort on a crapshoot job search for the needle-in-a-haystack chance, you pay only once your work has been completed to your satisfaction. If you measure your business expenditures in time and money (and who doesn’t?), you’ll find that Ziptask, quite simply, blows the traditional freelancing model out of the water.

So if you’ve got a new project coming up and find yourself dreading the process of signing on extra muscle to get it done… relax. Take a breath. Put down the notepads, spreadsheets, and address books, and give Ziptask a try. Your stress lines, and your bottom lines, will thank you.
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