Upwork Profile Not Approved? Here’s What You Can Do
According to Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel, Upwork gets 10,000 new signups EVERY DAY.
As the upwork site grows , most popular, they’re also becoming more selective with who can apply for jobs. Lately, I’ve been getting an increasing number of emails from readers who are having a hard time getting their profile approved.
If you want to become a freelancer, we often recommend Upwork as a good starting point.
However, lately we’ve been getting some feedback and questions from our readers that they are having trouble with their registration.
I know this can be frustrating. So today, I’m going to share the proven strategies my team and I have tested behind the scenes to increase your profile’s chances of getting approved by Upwork.
Before we dive in, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
1. Upwork’s rejection policy is a GOOD thing.
2. When Upwork rejects a profile, it’s not happening randomly or arbitrarily.
3. If Upwork rejects your profile, it’s not the end.
Why was your Upwork profile not approved?
With more and more freelancers signing up, Upwork now seems to be looking for freelancers with expertise and those who offer the most sought-after skills by clients worldwide.
So if your profile does not have a combination of skills and experience that clients are looking for, Upwork might just reject your registration.
let’s see how to get upwork profile approval
1) Show Upwork you’re a serious professional – right from the start
When you sign up for Upwork, you’re not just creating an account. You’re creating a freelance BUSINESS (or taking an existing one to the next level).
From the very first step, Upwork makes it clear that they’re looking for people who take freelancing as seriously as they do.
For example: when entering your email address, Upwork shows a preference for business email addresses (e.g., email@example.com) over personal emails (e.g., Gmail or Hotmail.)
2) Setup EVERYTHING you can do
Upwork wants its freelancers to win jobs and earn big money. To help make this possible, they’re always monitoring the balance between the supply of freelancers and the demand for jobs.
If too many freelancers are applying for the same types of jobs, it can put a strain on the market. To preempt this, Upwork may reject your profile on the grounds that there aren’t enough opportunities for the combination of skills and work categories you chose.
One way to prevent this from happening is to give Upwork as much information about your capabilities as possible to show you’re open to doing different types of work. This way, they can evaluate your profile against a larger pool of potential jobs.
3) Never choose just one work subcategory
After you choose a service, Upwork will ask you which “types of work” you’re able to do. The more of these you choose (up to 4 max), the more jobs you’re telling Upwork you’re likely to do.
You don’t need to have an ounce of professional freelancing experience to choose these. If you see something you can do, let Upwork know.
Keep in mind, a lot of job types overlap which can make it even easier to find relevant options. For example, if you can do “Article & Blog Writing,” you can probably write “Web Content” as well (do you know any blog that isn’t on the web?).
4) Try your best to list the maximum number of skills
You don’t need to be a world-class expert to say that you have a particular skill. You just need basic knowledge and familiarity with the topic. For example, if you’ve read blogs about using the web to sell products, you can list “Internet Marketing” as one of your skills.
With that said, be sure to only list genuine skills that are relevant to the service you offer — even if it means you’ll end up with fewer than the maximum of 10 skills. (Example: If you want to be a freelance web developer, don’t choose something like “Microsoft Word,” even if you’ve been using it since you were in elementary school.)
There are too many skills for Upwork to list them all out, so feel free to “go crazy” and type anything you can think of into the search bar. You never know what may pop up in the suggested skills.
Another great way to quickly find ideas is to check out the profiles of other freelancers who offer the same service to see what’s available.
For example, let’s take my profile:
5) Don’t undersell your experience level
In addition to categories and skills, Upwork asks you to select one of three experience levels. As you browse jobs, you can actually see the number of jobs available for each experience level.
Upwork uses this information to determine which jobs you’re likely to qualify for.
One mistake I see people make all the time is underselling their experience. Just because you don’t have freelancing experience doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience at all.
If you’ve held a relevant job with a traditional employer, you should probably choose “intermediate” or “expert” — even if this is your first foray into freelancing.
Depending on how much you’ve done, you may also be able to bump up your experience level from having done lots of work outside of a regular job (like volunteering, or doing projects for family and friends).
With that said, if you really are entry-level, that’s OK too. When I first started freelancing, all I had for the experience was a few dead-end jobs that had nothing to do with copywriting. I didn’t let that stop me, and my only regret is that I didn’t start freelancing sooner.
6) Let Upwork calculate a personalized “rate tip”
A lot of freelancers don’t know this, but when a client posts a job, Upwork shows them how much they can expect to pay.
Keep in mind, these rates are NOT a hard rule – I’ve proven before that you can not only win jobs at much higher rates than the average freelancer but also for much higher amounts than a client’s budget.
But when you’re first setting up your account, you should try to start with a rate that falls within Upwork’s suggestions. If your hourly rate is too far removed from what similar freelancers are getting, Upwork may think your profile isn’t competitive enough.
If your rate is too low, raise it. Being the cheapest freelancer isn’t just a bad strategy for winning jobs, it will also hurt your account’s chances of being approved.
If your rate is higher than the suggested tip, you may want to consider adjusting it for now. You can always raise it later if you’re feeling confident.
A higher than suggested rate may also be a sign that you’re underestimating your experience level. Remember: just because you don’t have freelance experience specifically, doesn’t mean you have no experience at all. Traditional (and non-traditional) work experience counts too.
7) Make sure your title isn’t too vague (or too specific)
As I mentioned above, Upwork tends to give preference to freelancers whose skill levels are in high demand. If your title section is vague (e.g., “Consultant”), it may be considered low-effort.
On the other hand, if it’s too specific (e.g., “Legal representation for underwater basket weaving companies”), Upwork may think you’re not interested in any other jobs.
You can always change your title later, and creating a great one will also be much easier when you’ve had more time to see what types of jobs and clients are available.
8) Go beyond the bare minimum with your profile overview
Upwork’s algorithm is designed to accept seriously and committed freelancers, and weed out the ones who appear to be taking shortcuts. Even if you’re planning to come back later and finish, Upwork has no way of knowing that.
People often get tripped up in the “overview” section, since it takes a bit more time than clicking a button or typing a number.
While your overview doesn’t need to be perfect right off the bat, you can and should take the time to write a strong profile overview if you want your account to get approved. This not only shows Upwork that you’re serious but will eventually help you win jobs too.
9) Yes, you DO have an employment history
You almost surely have some employment history — even if you don’t think you do. Even if you’re fresh out of school and you’ve never had a “real” job, don’t assume you have no experience to share.
For example, if you’ve done any freelancing work in the past, that counts as employment history even though it isn’t from a traditional 9-5 job. One clever freelancer did just that, describing her service and listing out recent clients:
You can go even further with this and write a separate entry for a few of your most impressive projects too.
10) Include ALL your education (not just college degrees)
Include as many education items as you can, and write a detailed description for each one to show its relevance to your expertise.
11) Treat your profile like a resume
Many recruiters for traditional jobs will instantly reject a resume if they see even a single typo. You need to take your Upwork account just as seriously.
12) Bolster your profile with a few portfolio pieces (or make some quickly if you don’t have any)
This option isn’t actually available during the initial signup, but creating a portfolio may just put you “over the top” if you get rejected the first time (the option will become available after you submit your first profile, and you can edit it immediately).
13) Have your other professional accounts Linked your accounts
One easy way to show that you’re worthy of an Upwork account is to link your other professional accounts (available under profile settings).
14) Prove yourself with Upwork’s skill tests
Upwork offers hundreds of skill tests that cover a wide range of fields. Choose a few that are relevant to your service, and give them a shot. High scores are impressive to clients and will look great to Upwork too.
15) Keep improving your profile and try again
If your profile isn’t approved the first time, don’t panic. You can submit it again after making some changes.
Try adding more experience and experimenting with different skills, subcategories, and rates. Make sure to keep track of the various combinations you’ve submitted in the past and take into account any feedback that is provided by Upwork.
Get ready to start winning
Getting your Upwork account approved is only the first step in a much bigger online freelancing journey.