Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rage and Fire Without

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Nationalism is dead in the hearts of the Filipino youth. Or perhaps it never died because it never lived in the first placed. At least that’s what I saw among fellow moviegoers who went for Sigwa, a tribute to the First Quarter Storm during the early years of President Marcos’s declaration of Martial Law. Whatever the film attempts to impart didn’t penetrate the people who watched with me. Rather, I felt that only when times are dire will the youth play a role for the fate of the country.

February 6, 2011, a Sunday, was an ordinary day for me when I watched Sigwa. The main thing that stood out that day was that it was the first time in a couple of years that I was tasked to watch a historical film, surprisingly something I was looking forward to do. Nonetheless I was amazed how long the queue was for the film, having momentarily forgotten that students from every school and course imaginable could have also been required to watch. I had no choice to but fall into line to enter SM Cebu’s Cinema 7. I actually thought the theater would run out of seats for the attendees. Thankfully my fears were unfounded.

When I went inside, the theater was already jam-packed with other students filling the place with so much unnecessary scuffles for seats along with din. I hurriedly looked for a comfortable seat as the screen was small it would be hard to watch it from the sides. It took around ten minutes after the expected time, 12:30 p.m., for the film to start showing; moderators were trying to subdue the noise and commotion, to no avail.

Things did not improve in the middle of the movie. Here and there I noticed people getting bored with it that they were finding means to kill some time, at the cost of annoying other people like me who paid rapt attention at the film. To my right, a teenage girl was animatedly talking to her friends. To my left, I could not help but notice yet another teenage girl sending love messages to her boyfriend. Everywhere else in the theater one could find similar conditions. The only times interest was seemingly observed for the movie was during the sexual and kissing scenes. It was simply disappointing.

I assumed this movie did not wholly affect the minds of the youth, save a few. I did not suppose it was because the direction and script was subpar for my taste and the acting acceptable at best. My criticisms were not the problem. The problem lies within the fact that Martial Law happened during the time of our parents. My generation and those after mine however lived in a time of relative peace, blindly enjoying whatever it satisfies us. Perhaps if history repeats itself with the spending of blood for peace and harmony, then we might fully understand what Sigwa really was trying to portray. I didn’t even know the film was a tribute in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Storm until I researched a bit.

After about two hours, the credits finally started rolling. By then I was anxious to leave, having enjoyed a cultural film yet disgruntled by the crowd I left behind. I wish the time comes the youth embraces nationalism willingly and knowledgeably. As one Josephine Dionisio said, “None of us is born nationalist.”

Where to Find the oDesk Exchange Rate

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If you’re wondering whether oDesk’s Local Funds Transfer is really competitive to other payment methods available, you can always check out the exchange rate between U.S. dollar and your local currency.

There are two locations in oDesk where the currency converter is displayed. The first one is through the setup of LFT while the second one is when you withdraw funds using said method.

A little bit of background: Local Funds Transfer is the newest way to send payment directly through your local bank account in your local currency. Through it, Paypal, Payoneer and others become even more optional for oDesk contractors.

Conversion Rate at Setup

An oDesk member can preview the last rate through setup through the following.

  1. From the homepage, go to Payments > Payment Methods.
  2. If LFT for your country is not yet established a notification will show to direct your through the setup. Click Set up now. oDesk local funds transfer setup
  3. Enter your password if asked for.
  4. At the next page where you enter the BRSTN code for your bank, a What’s This to the right shows the last oDesk exchange rate.odesk exchange rate setup

This procedure will no longer be possible once you have finished setting up Local Fund Transfer.

During Withdrawal

If you now have the LFT method prepared as a withdrawal method, you can also view the last currency conversion rate among the information. To do this,

  1. From the homepage, go to Payments > Withdrawals.
  2. Under the Withdrawal Method dropdown list, choose Local Funds Transfer to specified local bank with xxxx-acct#.

odesk exchange rate

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Applying for the Perfect oDesk Job

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Back when I was still a new member of oDesk, I was worried if I was guaranteed of payment after completion of the job. Online ventures for an occupation was new to me and full of uncertainties. Flash forward to a few weeks, I finished my first contract and was paid with the amount my employer and I agreed with. Lucky for me, he was forgiving and understood my position.

Searching for another online job opportunity in oDesk made me wonder a few things: work satisfaction, rates, and personal experience. These three didn’t occur to me at first since I was so excited working as a contractor for the first time. But now, I was bothered what my work status will be in the long run.

After much pondering, I came up with my own checklist that I can use to determine whether a job posting in oDesk is worth the effort of applying and working on. Every day, fresh job offers are made available that choosing the perfect one can be difficult if done without certain measures.

 

Employer’s Reputation

oDesk employer ratingJust as you can use your hopefully high ratings from past work as credentials when applying, you can also review the employer’s reputation through the feedback from their previous employees.

The relationship between the boss and their workers can affect the work output and the quality of the underlying process. Obviously, working for a knowledgeable employer is better than one who is hard to deal with.

Other factors to consider are the employer’s quick response to queries, their means of communication, and cooperation, all of which are rated and found in their contractor-to-employer feedbacks.

Fixed vs Hourly

Jobs at oDesk have two types of payment: fixed-price and hourly.

oDesk hourly pay

An hourly contract requires the use of the oDesk desktop application which records screenshots and keyboard and mouse activity in order to monitor the process of the work. This is done so that the amount paid to the contractor is justified. Receiving payments and resolving disputes in hourly contracts are also certified.

oDesk fixed price

On the other hand, a fixed-price contract does away with activity monitoring. Also, oDesk cannot guarantee payment and help if the employer refuses to pay. Fixed-price, however, lets you have total flexibility, giving you the freedom to work anytime within deadline.

Reasonable Budget

One of the first things to look for is the budget tagged to each job posting. This is in case you prefer fixed-price jobs to hourly contracts. Truth be told, finding a reasonable salary is hard in oDesk as employers tend to see this website as an outsourcing option. Ergo, they can find people who will agree to cheaper pay.

This is not always the case. What is important is the value your effort and capabilities deserve. Sure, the chance of getting accepted increases the lower the amount you bid. But you must not be bound to that as you can build on a high reputation and feedback for future employers to realize that you are a nice catch.

To put it short, start small then move to projects with bigger pay.

Interests and Skills

Think twice before applying on jobs for the sake of a huge budget offered. Even if the pay is great, you cannot keep up with the work if it becomes tedious and boring. When it happens, the quality of your work may be greatly diminished and therefore disappoints your employer.

Keep your self satisfied and entertained even if any work should be taken seriously. This can be done by taking jobs that interests you or you’re familiar with.

While new interests can be found when working in unfamiliar jobs, do not make a habit out of it.

Fresh Job Offers

While on the job hunt, immediately apply for postings that are new and therefore likely has few to no applications. Your own application won’t be missed and ignored if the employer if it is at the top of the list.

You know that early bird saying? Well, it applies to finding job opportunities too.

 

All these five things can be checked for when finding the perfect oDesk job through the tools found in the website. Through search, you can look for keywords of interest. And through filtering, you can shorten the number of job postings available to the category, payment type, and employer rating you want.

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Parts of an oDesk Cover Letter

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As you can see in the sample cover letter for oDesk that I previously posted, applying for an oDesk job posting must be straight to the point with exactly the right content the employer is asking for.

When you are about to apply for a job, remember these five golden pieces that you need to include in the letter.

 

oDesk Cover Letter Components

 

Commitment

Employers are attracted to a committed contractor. They want to be assured that you are looking for a long-term position and that you remain competitive and diligent with whatever task is assigned to you.

Even if the employer is only arranging a short-term work for you, the work at hand must still be done swiftly and in good quality.

Naturally, you must also live up to your promise. You should not give up in the middle of projects. Similarly, you must also think twice if you can really finish the project within the specified time limit before applying.

Remember that at the end of each project, both you and your employer are given the chance to give feedback on each other’s performance. You do not want to have a low rating since other future employers can see this in your profile. Therefore, satisfying your current boss increases the likelihood of a sustained high rating.

 

Bid Offer

Although the employer can see the bid amount in your application, you are encouraged to mention your offer in the cover letter. There are a number of reasons why this is so:

  • The employer did not clarify if the budget is for the whole project or for certain milestones, hence it is up to you to do so.
  • Personally, I find the budget attached to each job posting as my salary and exclusive of oDesk fee. So as not to confuse the employer, I always explicitly state whether the bid I made is inclusive or exclusive of the ten percent oDesk charge.
  • If you are bidding too high, you will want to justify the bid in your letter.

 

Experience

In order to build your credibility as an able contractor for a specific job, you will need to describe your previous obligations and provide samples of your work. Enumerating your skills is also a big plus. With those in mind, you will then provide an optimal estimate of completion of the current project.

For example, as an article writer I always guarantee the employer of my adherence to SEO rules and copyright laws and therefore avoidance of infringements to the best of my ability. I also assure them that my writing are checked for originality by using a specialized software. Lastly, I will then provide a number of sample articles.

Put in mind that the past employment and skills you mention must be relevant to the job.

 

Courtesy

You should know that you are on the employee side of the contract and therefore must be subservient to the requests of your boss. Between you and your boss’s written communication, you will need to address your employers with proper greetings in both heading (ex. “Dear Hiring Manager”) and complimentary close (ex. “Sincerely yours”). Simply put, it is a sign of respect.

 

Miscellany

Some employers will ask for certain details as qualifications for the job.

For example, some of them will require you to include a certain phrase at the very beginning of your letter to signify that you have carefully read their job postings.

Another example is to prove that you are a native citizen of a particular country. Some employers prefer a particular nationality, gender, and more. One way of proving your nationality is to state a certain phrase in English, followed by its equivalent phrase in your national language.

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Rewriting Techniques

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Accepting my first writing job online was a daunting task for me because I was required to create original content. Such notion contradicted with my firm belief that no idea is original, merely deviated. Hence, I came up with a number of ways on how to rewrite articles I can find online, rewrite them so that they are almost distinct from each other, and submit them to my employer as original content. I didn’t want to resort to article spinning software as no computer program has mastered the English language so far. Although spinning may speed up the process of rewriting, I wanted to hone my skills in writing by doing it myself.

Here are some rewriting techniques that I frequently use. They are effective means for articles that were copied from other websites to pass checks in article plagiarism software like Copyscape.

Synonyms

The easiest way to rewrite an article is to choose some words and replace them with words of equivalent meaning. That is actually how an article spinning software works at the very basic level. The problem with those software is that they don’t understand the context at hand and hence wrongfully choose synonyms that make the sentence no longer comprehensible.

For example, if I was to rewrite the first sentence of this post without rearranging the placement of words, it can be like this:

Receiving my first composition assignment was an intimidating undertaking for me since I was ordered to compose genuine materials.

Whereas if you were to let an article spinner ‘spin’ the sentence for you, it could be like this:

Accommodating my chief lettering profession online was an unnerving chore for me as I was obliged to produce innovative relaxed.

Obviously, my version is better since I know what the context of the sentence was about. Simply put, when using synonyms, make sure you do not lose the meaning of the sentence when you substitute words with their synonyms.

Active to Passive Voice (and Vice Versa)

I’m not a master of the English language (heck, it is not my native language). But if I have not forgotten my basic English lessons at school, sentences take the form of either the active voice (the subject is the doer of the action) or the passive voice (the subject is the receiver of the action).

For example, the next sentence is in the active voice.

He threw the ball.

Converting it to passive voice makes the sentence look like this:

The ball was thrown by him.

Affirmative to Negative Sentences (and Vice Versa)

To explain it briefly, negative sentences have a “not” or “no” in their sentence and therefore indicate negative response or tone. The absence of any of these two gives sentences a positive tone. An example of rewriting through this technique is shown below.

There are people who like ice cream.

There are no people who don’t like ice cream.

If you think about it, the two sentences still have the same meaning but their structure are unique from each other. Remember to convert sentences without violating the rules of logic, an example of which is shown below.

All people are good.

Not all people are not good.

Assuming that “not all people are not good” does not necessarily mean that the inverse is “all people are good”. Rather it’s inverse should be “some people are good”.

Object to Subject (and Vice Versa)

Similar to the conversion from one voice to another, another rewriting technique is done by making the object in the sentence as the subject or the other way around. For instance,

Lisa gave the chocolate bar to Bart.

The chocolate bar was given by Lisa to Bart.

Quotations to Direct Statements (and Vice Versa)

Sentences which are written in dialogue form (quotations) can be transformed into direct statements.

Sideshow Bob said, “Hello Bart.”

Sideshow Bob said hello to Bart.

Adding Examples

Instead of just rewriting a given sentence, you can elaborate on the idea by giving more examples and further add a number of words to your rewritten composition.

Anecdotes and Experiences

When the required material is not restricted to a formal tone, you can add personal experiences to your writing. Similar to examples, you can elongate your article by relating your own life with what has been previously written.

Repetition

Repeating a sentence is done to add emphasis to an idea or to remind readers with such. Conclusions in some composition are merely reiteration of previously mentioned ideas but may add something more.

Repetition must not be abused that the same keywords or phrases appears within a few sentences. Search engines do not like keyword stuffing and will likely lower your links’ rankings in search results.

Restructuring

Some plagiarism checking software take note of the arrangement of words. When rewriting, it is recommended to rearrange placement of examples, reasons, and the like. To illustrate the point,

There are apples, mangoes, and oranges in the basket.

There are mangoes, oranges, and apples in the basket.

 

My last piece of advice for this post is to combine these techniques to further refine your rewritten material. Many of the techniques above cannot stand on their own against a plagiarism check if they are not used hand in hand with.

Do you know more techniques for rewriting? Fire away at the comments below.

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Bidding the Right Amount at oDesk

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odeskFor my yet another tip on working at oDesk, I am going to talk about bidding. First off, this is about the fixed-rate job postings. After four months as a member, I’ve never been a contractor under a hourly-pay contract. That’s because I seldom applied for such type of payment, and I prefer the fixed one.

When you browse for jobs at oDesk, one of the first things you see at any job posting is the employer’s budget. Naturally it is part of what attracts you to apply. Here are some do’s and don’ts regarding job bidding.

  • Take note of how much the employer is willing to pay for the job. Don’t bid that is too much or too less.
  • Also check the average bid. You will want to be around the average or less as long as it is still reasonable for the type of work applied.
  • Don’t be desperate! Do not bid so low that you’re earning less than you deserve. You’d be wasting your time.
  • Asking for an upfront payment is not helping at most times. Only when you are credible enough and are a longtime oDesk contractor should you consider upfront payment.
  • Settle with an amount that helps keep you focused on the job and not looking for another.
  • At times the posted budget by the employer may include the oDesk fee. Every time you bid, you must mention in the sample letter whether the amount is inclusive or exclusive of oDesk fee.
  • Don’t bother bidding on job posting with unreasonably low budget. If you insist, post a higher amount that you think is adequate.
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What to Put in Your oDesk Cover Letter

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If you want to be noticed by employers posting jobs at oDesk, you need to create an impressive cover letter. Sadly, those employers are overwhelmed by contractors/applicants, many of whom are desperately needing a job yet does not fit the employer’s requirements. And so, at the moment your possible future boss sees upon your cover letter, it must be strong enough that they will think that not hiring you will be their loss.

Here are some things that creates a strong and effective cover letter at oDesk (or any other online job posting sites):

 

  • A cover letter for one job posting must be distinct from another. Remember that each job may have different requirements and therefore you need to apply to them differently.
  • Similar to the first tip, do not copy anyone else’s cover letter nor copy samples posted online. You’re trying to be different from the crowd and not to be among them.
  • Check for spelling and grammar errors. Once employers spot any, they’ll be doubtful of skills.
  • Check for any special instructions like placing a specific phrasing or word at the top of your cover letter. Some employers do not bother checking your application if you fail to comply as per their instructions.
  • Repeat and then expound on any specifics employers may mention.
  • Don’t hesitate to tell any related experience, especially significant and valuable ones.
  • Include an attachment that is relevant to the application. Do not, for example, post a tech news article when the employer explicitly wants a tech review article.
  • Include the time and days of the week you are available.
  • Mentioning that you are looking forward to a long commitment with the employer is a plus.
  • Be concise.
  • Like any other composition, the most important information must be placed at top paragraphs and miscellaneous tidbits at the bottom.

If you are still unsure of what to put, check out my own cover letter.

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Sample Cover Letter for oDesk Applications

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Do you have trouble applying for a job at oDesk? Are employers steering clear of your application? Perhaps you need to refine the cover letter that you submit to them.

While not perfect, the cover letter below is what I’ve been using and modifying to fit the job requirements. So far, it helps me proceed to receiving an interview.

Once you’ve read my cover letter below, it is best not to merely copy and use it for yourself. Improvise and learn a few tips!

 

Sample Cover Letter

 

Hello,


I want to apply for this job. I guarantee you that I can efficiently write articles of at least 250 words in length, good quality, and unique content. I can write 4 articles on a daily basis and submit them on time.


I understand that problems regarding SEO and copyright infringement may arise from articles with duplicate content. I will never copy content verbatim from any website. I also check the uniqueness of my articles' contents using a software.
Attached herewith is a text file containing three sample articles as proof of my quality work.


If you grant me the opportunity to work this job, rest assured I can work with minimal or no supervision, meet deadlines, and understand directions in one go.


I am also comfortable with $33.00 for the 26 articles, inclusive of oDesk fee. I have bid for an ongoing period since I want to continue working for you if you are satisfied with my performance.


Sincerely,


Conan Hughes

 

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