In the world of outsourcing, there are a great many options and paths to choose from. We’ve discussed Elance in a previous post, and today we look at another website that promises to be quite similar. Guru.com is an outsourcing company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Guru began operations in 2001, initially conceived by Inder Guglani because he found the freelance marketplace at that time to be inadequate and in need of improvement. The question then becomes, has he succeeded?
The truth is that upon my first visit to Guru, I was thinking it might provide me with another good option as I had been heavily using Odesk and even as good as it is, there are times when you simply reach the limit of what Odesk has to offer and need additional outsourcing choices. Guru seemed like a good alternative. I logged in with high expectations, but then I had a wake-up call of epic proportions. The site itself, while not that hard to navigate, isn’t exactly a smooth design either. Most of the links are at the very bottom of the page which required you to scroll down quite often. Also, if you click on the ‘jobs’ link at the top, you don’t go straight to a job search. You instead are presented with a screen showing your active jobs and another small link for ‘find jobs’. I suppose if you had jobs, it would seem less obnoxious, but for me being new to the site it was a glaring reminder that “You have no awarded jobs to follow up on”. I think the ‘find jobs’ link should be featured better and the disclaimer toned down a bit.
Still, those issues in design are hardly the biggest problem with the website. Firstly, the number of applications – or ‘bids’ as Guru calls them – is very limited. With a free membership you only get 10 per month which is not a lot, especially for someone diligently searching for work. I’ve done easily 4 to 5 times that many in a month through Odesk in the past. You can purchase extra bids for a one-time fee which varies based on how many bids you want to buy. An additional 10 bids will cost you $20, 40 bids for $20, 60 bids for $30, 125 bids for $50, and finally a whopping 250 bids for $100. If you have a little money to spend, you can up your bids and get more chances for work, but if you are unemployed that might be difficult to do.
Another issue is the skills tests, which many outsourcing website offer as a way to supplement your profile. Some sites offer them for free, and Guru does as well if you have the right level of membership. Free members are required to pay $4.95 per test. Basic members, who pay $8.95 a month for their membership, still have to pay $2.95 per test. You don’t get tests for free unless you move up to the next membership level called ‘professional’ which costs $15.95 per month. These monthly fees are applicable if you choose to be billed once annually. If you opt for a monthly billing, the price goes up to $11.95 per month for basic and $21.95 for professional. Guru does have its perks, such as search boost and premium proposals which will help you to get a leg up on other freelancers vying for the same jobs you are, but all of these perks come at a price. For free members, the options are very limited. Be sure you do your homework so that you can be sure whether Guru is the right outsourcing option for you.