Creating An Upwork Profile That Will Actually Get You Hired

A complete and attractive profile is to landing work so let’s today I’m going to go over the important aspects of and some best practices. They’ve gamified the process to some degree by using a % complete rating.

I hypothesize that a 100% complete profile also plays into the recommendation algorithm that Upwork uses to rank potential fits for job posters. So I think a complete profile isn’t just a box to check, it actually plays into your ability to earn money on Upwork. So let’s go over the best way to get to 100% complete.

How To Get A 100% Complete Profile

Uploading your Photo adding your TitleOverviewEmployment History, and at least two skills will get you to 60%. These are the required sections of your profile anyways, so knock these out as a first step. If you’re missing any of these five areas, you can’t get hired for a job. It is also required to publicly show one skills test.

After that, you have the following options to build a complete profile. You can choose any combination of the following:

  • Education +10%
  • Other Experience +5%
  • Each Employment History +10% (max 30%)
  • Each Skill Test +10% (max 30%)
  • Each Certificate +5% (max 10%)
  • Each Portfolio item +5% (max 10%)

Once you have a 100% complete profile, you can move on to refining your profile and applying some of the best practices below. I’m going to dive into further detail on each in the future, but for now, I’m only going to cover the most important aspects of each so that you can hit the ground running.


The image below is a screenshot of the “above the fold” section of my Public Profile. Anyone who clicks on my profile from a search result or proposal is going to see this section first. Key elements are Photo, Title, Skills (grey boxes) and Hourly Rate. These are the most important elements of your profile because they’re the first thing someone will see from you. They also show prominently in other areas of the site.

YOUR PROFILE: Search Results

If a client does a site wide search for a specific skill, like in the example below “virtual cfo”, the screenshot below is what they’ll see. The elements repeated from your public profile (above) are Photo, Title, Hourly Rate, and the first 70 or so characters of your Overview.

Because these elements of your profile are repeated on numerous sections of the site, these are what I think are the most important.

Profile Photo

The decision whether someone is worth a top dollar rate is one that’s done at a very primal, unconscious level. If you want to charge a premium rate (and you should), you need a professional,inviting profile photo. The key here is that you look friendly and trustworthy. If you’re questioning whether your photo looks professional enough, it probably isn’t. Here are some things I recommend when setting up your profile photo.

  • Crop your photo so that it includes your face and the very top of your shoulders.
  • Smile — People want to work with people they think they’ll get along with so smile. You’ll appear more friendly, inviting and warm.
  • Background: try to keep the background as calm as possible. The focus is your face, so busy backgrounds are just a distraction.
  • Lighting — just make sure your face is well lit. A bright, properly lit face will appear more positively to a potential client.


Like I stated above, Upwork doesn’t publish what factors into their freelancer search algorithm, but I think it’s very safe to say that keywords in the Title field are very important in ranking highly in search results. That’s why I recommend “keyword stuffing” your title, like I have in the screenshots above. Through many hours of studying how successful Upworkers have written their Titles, most of them stuff their titles with relevant keywords that a job poster will be searching.

In my specific situation, I’m most interested in being found when the following keywords are searched:

  • Virtual CFO
  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Quickbooks

That’s why I stuff my Title with “Virtual CFO | Accounting & Bookkeeping | Quickbooks”.

You’ll also see that I lead my Title with “Top Rated” because it’s perceived as a ranking earned over many hours and job success. I want to ease their mind that by hiring me, they’ll have Top-Rated talent.


As you’ll see in my public profile HERE, you’ll see that the beginning of my Overview is again re-listing the keywords that I want to be ranked for. Again, this technique was identified by studying other successful Upwork workers. I think the advantage here goes back to the algorithm. It’s very likely that the algorithm searches keywords in the overview as well, so stacking them prominently in your overview will ensure they’re found in the results.

Other than that, I don’t put too much though or effort into an elaborate and wordy overview. Definitely explain your experience and how you can help potential clients, but also don’t overthink this section. I think it’s viewed less than you would think by potential clients. Again, explain your strengths, but more words don’t mean better. Keep it concise. No one has time to actually read.

Hourly Rate

I’ll talk about this at length in future posts, but for now, just know that you should charge what you’re worth regardless of your experience or lack of experience on Upwork. That doesn’t mean that a novice can charge an expert’s rate, but it means don’t think that because you’re new to upwork, you need to “earn the right” to charge what you’re worth. That’s a myth. Charge what you’re worth.


The skills section is another chance to stuff keywords. These are the grey bubbles in my public profile, HERE. Make sure you’re including all of the terms that you want to rank for.

I don’t have any evidence to prove this, but I also suspect there’s a boost you get for keywords that you’ve completed a test for. More to come on this at a later date.

Experience Level

Be honest about your experience, but as a general statement, I think the best strategy is to try to position yourself toward the higher end if possible.

Employment History

Not super important, IMO.


Also not super important, IMO. Use it if it’s an asset to you, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t have it. I think potential clients rarely look at this, and it has rarely come up for me in interviews.

If you lack of formal education is a concern, just don’t complete this section and use some of the other areas to get to 100% complete.

Those are the first things I would take care of if I were creating my profile from scratch. If you have any specific questions, leave them in the comments.

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