How to Get a High Job Success Rating on Upwork

Learn the importance of a high job success score on Upwork, how it's derived and those elements that are within your control to ensure that you achieve a strong rating.

In this video, I briefly discuss issues such as:

  • how the success score might affect new freelancers more than established ones,
  • the importance of managing bad client relationships professionally and what this might look like in practise,
  • the message having too many "jobs in progress" might send to potential clients,
  • and more. 

Full Transcript:

Hey there! Laura from here. In this video, I am going to talk to you specifically about how to have a high job success score on Upwork. One of the most common questions that I get over email is about the job success score on Upwork. Now, bear in mind that it is definitely important to be concerned about the success score that the site is awarding you. But I really want you to focus on your marketing efforts and delivering an amazing experience to your clients, regardless of that job success score.

What is a job success score on Upwork

The job success score definitely takes into account many different factors that will ultimately give you a percentage approval rate or what Upwork deems to be the number of times in all of the jobs you have had, that you delivered a great experience to that client.

Now I am going to tell you something and that is going to be hard to hear, not every client is going to be thrilled with your work even if your work is amazing. There are always a handful of clients who will not leave you a 5.0-star rating on Upwork, who will not leave you glowing feedback and that's okay. We are aiming to have everybody else leave you that feedback and not worry about that handful of people. Now, if you end up working with a client and you give them a really bad experience, you turn things in late, there is a lot miscommunication and the client is frustrated, they are well within their rights to exercise leaving you a low review.

Low reviews are especially damaging to new freelancers on Upwork because you don’t have hundreds of jobs behind you. So, here’s what makes a difference when a brand-new freelancer gets a bad feedback rating on one job versus let’s say that I had a client that today left me negative feedback. Now I have had hundreds of jobs on the Upwork platform so if somebody leaves me negative feedback, there is no doubt that it will have an impact on my job success score and it could potentially turn new clients from working with me. However, because it is in the midst of hundreds of other positive and 5-star feedback comments, anyone looking at that might say, “Oh that person was just someone who couldn’t be pleased,” or they might not even see that at all.

But if you have only had three jobs and you are a new freelancer, having even one low feedback score can be really detrimental to your business because clients are going to look at that, much like we use sites like eBay or Yelp to help us make decisions about who we are going to do business with, your clients will view the Upwork job success score in the same way.

This isn’t to say that if your job success score is 92% or 94%, you are not going to land business. That is not true. I have had that as a job success score before, it works fine. Where it starts to become a problem is when your job success score slips below 80% or even 70%. Lower than 90% will take you out of the running for a lot of jobs. Why? Because clients have a choice and given the opportunity to work with somebody who has a 95 % success rating versus 75%, the choice seems clear to them, even if it was just a disgruntled client who left you 1-star feedback. So, you need to be mindful of your job success score.

How to manage A Bad client relationship on Upwork

If it is very clear that you are not going to be able to rectify the situation with the client, and you are concerned about your job success score, I do recommend canceling the job and refunding their money.

Of course, Upwork takes this into account too. This is not a way to shield yourself from an impact on your job success score. However, it is definitely better to be a professional and end the job and take the hit in the form of a refund rather than have that person leave a 1-star feedback review on your profile. It can be really hard to let money go and to let contracts go when you have counted on it and you have probably already worked on it. So if it's a situation where there is a lot of money at stake and you don’t feel it's fair that the client receives a full refund when you close out the job, I encourage you to talk with the client about what you can do to make it right, because even if things have been plagued by miscommunication at this point and are difficult to work through, it is better to at least show that you tried to resolve things. In this instance, the client may back down, realize that your job success score and your future freelance work could be impacted. Most of the time when clients on Upwork leave bad feedback for contractors, it’s because the client had a really bad experience and they legitimately feel they need to air their grievances to do that. It's extremely rare for someone to have a good experience with you and then just blast you with low feedback that destroys your job success score. I think that a lot of people think that's the perception but the truth is, every time I have dug deeper into these situations, I find that there's something that the contractor could have done better and they didn't handle it professionally enough, and so the client felt they had no other choice but to air their grievances in that way.

So, first lesson is - if you are in the position where the job is in the trouble and you don’t want to refund it and cancel it out, I would try to work with the client. Could you be paid for what you have done so far and just close the job out and leave it at that? Could you negotiate something where if there was a mistake made on your end, you will apply a discount or you will apply a partial refund? I am not saying you need to do this with every client (it is actually very much the exception rather than the rule), but it is something to consider because a bad client experience especially when you are new is damaging. If you only have a couple of jobs in your Upwork profile and all of them have negative feedback from the client, that is a really bad sign and it's going to be almost impossible for you to get future work. So, somebody like me or other freelancers that I know that have had hundreds of jobs on Upwork and lots of positive feedback, one negative piece of feedback is not going to destroy their career. However, if you have only had three clients and one left you average feedback and another left you bad feedback and another left you perfect, it kind of doesn’t measure up in the end. So, from a client’s perspective they are thinking, there is a 33% or 66% chance that things aren't going to go well with the project.

When you start out as a freelancer on Upwork, your first couple of clients are crucial. It is so much easier to start at a 100% success rating and try to maintain it than to go from 70% or 80% and try to push it up. Start out strong and keep it strong. You will be much more successful that way. So, focus on delivering that 5-star experience for your clients. When you do finish a job, I encourage you to tell the client about the importance of feedback. That helps your job success score. They will leave you positive feedback, you additionally get the chance to leave them some feedback and that is going to be beneficial for your job success score when they are leaving that positive feedback.

Another thing to be cautious of- there is controversy over this, however, it’s a strategy that I apply. I don’t believe that it helps your job success score to have jobs that are open for months and months at a time where there is no activity. So, for example, if a client hired me 6 months ago and I did some copy and they were like, "oh we are busy, we will get back to you later" and then they never did, I am eventually going to give them a 30-day notice that I am going to close out that contract. It has a couple of other negative effects outside of your job success score. I don’t know the extent to which it affects your job success score but I think it is misleading to have an open job on Upwork. It could tell other new potential clients you are fully booked. So, if you have 3 or 4 open jobs on Upwork but there has been no activity on them in months, a client browsing your profile and looking at it for 30 seconds or less can’t tell that. They're just going to say, "oh she's busy. I am not even going to invite her to my job." So, I like to close those out to keep things clean on my profile. So, go through and check in with your clients every so often and say, "hey I noticed it's been a while since we have had a milestone or since this contract was active, do you still need whatever service was being offered" and see what they say. I close those jobs out. I have had other freelancers tell me, "oh I don’t think it affects your job score"; for me, it is kind of a de-cluttering thing and I don’t want it to be misleading to clients who actually do want me to work right now to make it seem as though I have these open jobs on Upwork when I really don’t.

So, no matter where you are at in your Upwork journey, be a professional and always deliver a great experience to the client and then of course, prompt them to leave you feedback. They don’t always understand how important it is for that feedback especially if it’s a client new to Upwork, tell them when the job has concluded, "hey I am going to go ahead and mark this contract as complete; just an FYI, a huge part of my ability to get future clients is based on the feedback that you leave me. If you could spend two minutes and rate me here on Upwork, it would help me a lot." So, that is a great way to have a good job success score. And of course, the obvious thing tends to be about not trashing your job success score anyways and that means not violating the terms of service, not having multiple projects cancelled and refunds, not having clients who are filing disputes against you or having to reach out to Upwork customer service. Be a professional, treat this as your job which it is.

Even if Upwork is only a portion of your marketing efforts, treat it like it deserves the attention that you are giving to it. So, make sure that you treat every single client professionally and strive for that 5-star feedback; it's really important. It's so much easier to maintain a profile on Upwork rather than to try to claw your way back in when you have been dinged for low feedback on your job success score. Be a professional, deliver amazing work and stick to the deadlines that you set with a client. Then the client is thrilled to leave you 5-star feedback and it only pushes your job success score up higher and higher. Implementing these tips has helped me improve my job success score from 92% all the way to where it's currently at, which is 98%. Anything 90% and above is great for freelancers on the Upwork platform, so I encourage you to think about how you can make things easier for your clients and show them the amazing freelancer that you are.

For more tips about using Upwork and other freelance marketing tactics, check out or my podcast, Better Biz Academy.

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