I'm having difficulties getting hired on oDesk (UpWork) when bidding on projects, and I think it has to do with my cover letters.

Here's an example of one of my cover letters that I've sent:

Dear Freelancer,
I'm a Web Designer + Developer, and I'm very interested in your this job
I am working in a software company for 3 years. I have worked many times for US Companies and Clients .
My core skills are as Follows.

  • CSS/CSS3.
  • Bootstrap
  •  Adobe Photoshop.
  •  Wordpress.
  •  Javascript/Jquery
  •  Foundation Framework
  •  Front-End and responsive design.

I have also listed my most expensive and tough projects on portfolio. Please check the tests that I have passed related to Web Design with the high score of (top 30%).I believe my skills would be perfect for your project. I am available to chat my IM, email or Skype, and would be happy to set up a convenient time to discuss the issues. I hope you would find Quality in my work

Here are my Few projects

  • (PSD TO Bootstrap): ...
  • (WORDPRESS): ...
  • ...

I have all the skills listed above, I've passed 2 tests (HTML/CSS) and achieved the top 30%, my profile is 100% complete, and I've added my credit card.

What am I doing wrong?

4 Answers 4


Where do I start? Why I almost didn't read this question? Why most of guys on this group probably skipped reading your question?

Why I would not hire you based on this bid?

  1. Bad English
  2. You addressed the client as "freelancer"
  3. you said nothing about the project and how you would approach to it
  4. bad formatting - no extra space

Clients have 3s to like or dislike your bid. I spent more than 3s reading it and there is no way I would contact you or read your full application.

Go to Stats on odesk. What does it say about the ratio your bid was opened/read? Below the average?

Where should you improve?

  1. Do more tests and try to get into 10%
  2. Learn business English and its phrases
  3. Learn how to format a bid in a business matter
  4. check how your hourly price compare to others
  5. rather bid 1 quality bid then 10 mediocre

Read tutorials on how to attract clients. There are zillions of tutorials on the net. Learn how to be neat and pay attention to details. You showed neither of this in both your question and your bid. Portfolio was not bad thou.

PS. Do you have another picture for your profile? more professional one, not like you're ready to go out.

  • thanks buddy i'll keep in mind all these things next time Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 11:19
  • -1 Some parts of this response are unnecessary and rude coming from someone suggesting to be more "professional"! Picture is alright, top 30% isn't bad at all. I didn't see the original formatting of the questions but the question isn't very heavy in content; I can hardly imagine what was so bad about it to deserve the first sentence of your response (a bit passive-aggressive.)
    – go-junta
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 11:18
  • 8
    @go-me He came for the honest comments. He did not come asking us to petty him. So I gave him the proper answer what I would not hire him. I am confident that 95% of clients things the same as myself, even more as I have hired contractors myself more than 70 times in the past.
    – Peter MV
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 20:08
  • 1
    @go-me You can always reverse a downvote. If it says it's locked in, just make a small edit, then you can undo the down vote.
    – Canadian Luke
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 22:54
  • 1
    This criticism of someone's English writing is rather harsh, given the inconsistent case usage, incorrect spelling, and awkward phraseology within the answer itself. I think I agree with the point it makes, but perhaps not the tone: being honest does not mean diplomacy needs to be abandoned entirely.
    – halfer
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 16:42

I'm going to assume that you're asking because you're new to either Upwork or freelancing altogether.

There are many reasons as to why you might not be hired often. Personally, I used to get hired on 90% of jobs I applied for. Now I don't use Upwork too often as I personally feel as though the quality of freelancers and clients has dropped significantly. I digress.

You're competing with other freelancers and you need to prove that you're better than the other options and are affordable.

  1. Rates matter

If the average project bid (let's just say it's a fixed-price job) is $500 and you come in with a bid of $1,500 the client likely won't look at your profile you're too expensive (caveat is what the client sets as their budget). If you come in with a bid of $100 then common sense says this may not be a quality freelancer.

  1. How you carry yourself matters

Issue number one is you addressing the client as 'freelancer'. If I saw this, instant reject. This shows you didn't proof read your bid and if you're not willing to put in that much effort, why would you put in more for my project?

You only talk about yourself. You need to tell me how you're going to help ME. Yes, you know HTML & CSS but so does every other freelancer that I'm going to give the time of day to. How are you going to help me and provide a better service to me than the other freelancers'.

Your selling point should come after you list your skill set but before you call an action.

Please check the tests that I have passed related to Web Design with the high score of (top 30%).

Why should I check your profile? There's a dozen other freelancer's who have told me how they can make my project a success and you want me to go out of my way. Unless I'm already interested in you - I'm not looking at your profile.

There is some poor English here which is understandable if it's not your native tongue but spending a few bucks on a proofreader or running it through Grammarly can't hurt.

I have also listed my most expensive and tough projects on portfolio.

This is poorly framed. Frankly, no client cares what the most expensive project you've done is. You can talk about complex projects due to scale or difficult features you've implemented.

I believe my skills would be perfect for your project.

What skills? Yes, you listed off that you know HTML, CSS, JS, etc but there's no indication on every project that the client knows what these are. I want to know that my website will look original, that it will be mobile-responsive, etc. I don't know the benefit of you knowing JS, PHP, .NET, SQL, etc. I just know that I need a website.

I hope you would find Quality in my work

I shouldn't need to find quality in your work. It should be apparent. However, this could be a language barrier thing. A better phrasing is

"You can see some of my quality work below" - proceed to list of projects.

Here are my Few projects

(PSD TO Bootstrap): ...




Not too much insight here, which is fine, but what you put here is very important.

Make sure that you're showcasing sites (link) as well as explaining what you did for this project. What amazing feat did you accomplish? Think outside of development as well. Did a site you built increase onsite conversions by 50%? Include that - if it's true.

Was the website horribly outdated and you updated it? Include a link to the archive of the site before you worked on it and after.

Here's a good general format for bids and I suggest you do some A/B testing on different formats and content.

  • Greeting

  • Brief introduction

    • Core skills

    • Experience

    • Selling point ("I have a masters in x", "I've worked on similar projects before")

  • Skills you have that are relevant to the project & that may be additionally useful (project calls for a website redesign and you have content writing skills? Mention it.)

  • How you're going to help the client. This is the most important part. How will you complete all the requests the client has. How are you going to do a better job than everyone else? What is your game plan?

  • Sales pitch. This is where you mention the tests you've passed, ask the client to view your profile, LinkedIn, etc. As well as elaborating on what makes you special.

  • Projects. This is where you list, in detail, the projects you've worked on and what feats you overcame to complete these projects. The more relevant they are to the project you're bidding on, the better.

Again, please create your own method and test what works for you.

  • I personally feel as though the quality of freelancers and clients has dropped significantly my thoughts exactly :)
    – kellogs
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 12:11

Getting hired on Upwork is easy and hard at the same time. Most of the freelancers have everything perfect from the 100% profiles, good in their field (Skills are there) etc.

From what I have come across, most freelancers either have no portfolio/ samples to back their cover letter, clients are looking for freelancers with work history and or the competition out there is better than you are.

I would recommend writing cover letters with your client in mind / their job as the priority. Do not write too much about yourself but try and convince the client how your skills will make their project a success.

Feel free to see some more reasons as to why you are not getting hired and how to improve your chances on a blogpost from my blog. http://www.freelancerinsights.com/reasons-why-you-are-not-getting-hired-on-upwork/

  • 1
    Hi David, welcome to Freelancing.SE! Can you please edit your answer to explain that it's your blog, and that you're not just spamming it? It's also much better if you can add the critical points from that blog post into your answer. Thanks!
    – Canadian Luke
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 17:06

There are two things that would make me hesitant to hire you. The good news is that the one that is probably easiest for you to change is the one that would be the biggest problem to me. Those two issues are:

  1. Poor English skills (little problem).

  2. Cover letter says "I think I am perfect for your job" but it does not sound like it is tailored to an actual job. (Bigger problem)

I am just a small independent contractor myself, but I do hire some freelancers. There are four things I look for:

  1. Can I afford them?
  2. Do they seem competent/have good rating or portfolio?
  3. Can we communicate with each other?
  4. Do them seem pleasant, like someone I would enjoy working with?

When I post a job I always ask a few questions in the posting. Anyone who does not answer my specific questions, I do not even consider. It does not matter how good or how cheap they are if they are not going to pay attention to what I am asking. How do I know that they understand what I am asking for if they don't show me in their response that they understand what I want?

Yes, your cover letter includes grammatical errors. But as long as I was able to understand you, I would overlook those if the content of what you said indicated you were truly responding to my request and thinking about my situation. I would understand that English is a second language for you. The important thing is do you understand what I am asking for, and if I need to ask for changes or to have you explain something you did, will I be able to understand you?

When I hire freelancers I always get a lot of proposals that I can tell are generic, like they post that cover letter to every project they see. In the past I have hired people who insisted they really wanted the job and then they never did the job. I don't know why they bid on my job and tried so hard to get it, but it has made me very careful of who I hire.

MY ADVICE: Any time you bid on a project be sure to make comments in your cover letter about that specific project. Give some ideas on how you would do it so they know you understand what they are trying to do. Ask some questions like "how do you want this part done?" or "Have you thought of doing this or that for your project?" Those questions show them you are paying attention, know what you are doing, and can communicate with them. Also, every time they answer you they get a tiny bit attached to you.

Good luck.

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