A few days before oDesk became Upwork, I received an “Act Fast” inquiry. I had never heard of this, so I thought we should discuss it. Here goes….

“Act Fast” appears to be the latest attempt at rapidly matching freelancers with clients. Apparently, oDesk had been sending automated emails to freelancers to alert them to new position postings, encouraging them to “act fast” to apply for a recently posted opportunity. I was lucky enough to get one.

Here’s an example:

odesk act fast invitation

What’s the Problem?

The “Act Fast” feature doesn’t seem quite ready for the challenge of automatically matching freelancers to relevant postings. A quick glance at the support forum reveals that many freelancers are feeling frustrated by these messages because the inquiries are often promoting irrelevant postings. Some freelancers mentioned that they had been asked to apply for positions that were outside of their skill sets (a la the “phone unlocking” offer above). Some received messages about jobs for clients who were so new to oDesk that they hadn’t even verified a payment method yet.

Is “Act Fast” a Good Thing?

Acting fast is always advisable for winning new business. As the saying goes, the early bird often gets the worm. However, encouraging freelancers to apply for a position immediately can lead to sloppy applications or unnecessary anxiety for freelancers who receive several “act fast” messages each week. Clients should be screened to be sure that they have proven hiring records; no freelancer wants to work for someone who hasn’t even taken the time to verify a payment method.

If Upwork intends to keep this feature, it would be wise to develop a better system for matching freelancers to postings that are a match for their skill sets. Doing so would save time and frustration for both contractors and clients.

Perhaps this feature will become helpful if it is developed further, but right now it just feels too clunky.

Update: Upwork is Still Doing “Act Fast”

May 28, 2015 Update: Matt forwarded me this email, which seems to indicate that the new Upwork platform has retained the “Act Fast” model from oDesk. It appears the matching criteria are still a little off, considering Matt is a marketing consultant and not a software developer.

upwork act fast

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Becky Trowbridge is a freelance marketing professional. She offers a wide variety of marketing support services, including content creation, social media cultivation, and landing page design.

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