While global economies continue to struggle with job creation, online work thrived this year with 650,000 new jobs posted and cumulative earnings set to surpass $500 million, according to Elance’s just-released 2011 Online Employment Review.
The number of businesses hiring on Elance's online employment platform and the number of online professionals working on Elance grew more than 120 percent, the report says, and earnings for online professionals rose in more than 100 countries around the world. In the U.S., earnings rose in 43 out of 50 states, including some of the hardest-hit regions for unemployment such as Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina.
Other key data from the report includes the following:
Businesses are developing innovative workforce models that blend full-time and part-time, local and remote, employed and contracted workers. The practice of hiring and managing talent online is spreading and 83 percent of small businesses surveyed by Elance plan to hire up to 50 percent of their workers as online contractors in the next 12 months.
More people are pursuing independent careers and using online platforms like Elance to reinvent their careers. The 2011 Elance survey of online freelance professionals indicated that nearly 1 in 3 workers began freelancing to be their own boss and work on the type of projects they love. The top benefits of online work cited include the ability to control their own schedule (90 percent), follow their passion (87 percent) and eliminate the commute (85 percent).
Hot Skills in Demand
The number of businesses seeking to hire online workers doubled in 2011. An analysis of the jobs posted on Elance this year highlights the following skills:
• Software development skills such as HTML5 (+238 percent), Mobile (+137 percent), WordPress (+100 percent), Facebook (+66 percent) and Twitter (+47 percent)
• Creative skills like Graphic Design (+176 percent) and Content Writing (+72 percent)
• Marketing skills such as Internet Marketing (+132 percent), Marketing Communications (+53 percent) and Telemarketing (52 percent)
• Administrative skills, including Transcription (+114 percent), Administrative Support (+87 percent) and Data Entry (+69 percent)
• Consulting skills ranging from Product Manufacturing (+186 percent), Architectural Design (+185 percent), Financial Analysis (+140 percent) and Legal (+86 percent) to Business Strategy (+76 percent)
Predictions for 2012
In 2012, the market for online contingent work is set to double as more businesses across the globe hire and manage workers online for the first time, says the report. Below are four trends that Elance's research shows may shape the world of work in 2012:
• The rise of the global, virtual workplace. Companies will increasingly tap into the online workforce across geographic boundaries to support key business initiatives. More professionals will build independent careers by working with multiple clients all over the world. Online contractors will collaborate with each other remotely, across geographies and time zones. Technological advancements enabling better online collaboration, telepresence, skills assessment and identity verification, will make significant contributions to the new virtual workplace.
• Professional services become America’s next great export. The global demand for U.S. talent has increased steadily over the past year and is set to grow even faster as online platforms like Elance and oDesk break down global barriers and open up opportunities for collaboration. In 2011, U.S.-based contractors exported their services to more than 140 countries, and global hiring of U.S. professionals saw a significant increase in more than 60 countries.
• Increased adoption of the contingent workforce elevates the importance of compliance. To tap the power of a flexible workforce, companies around the world will turn to online employment platforms to facilitate compliance with their internal controls and evolving government regulations.
• Promising online careers for 2012. Online hiring for specialized skills will continue to expand in 2012. Promising online careers for 2012 include the following:
o Software Developer
o Visual Designer
o User Experience Designer
o Digital Marketer
o Technical Writer
o Web Researcher
o Data Analyst
o Content Moderator
o Distributed Workforce Manager