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Bright Outlook for Online Workers

Posted on 9.10.2011

Online employment platform Elance has released the results from its annual survey on small business hiring trends. The survey reveals the job outlook is bright for people working online as a multitude of businesses continue to adopt online hiring as a core strategy to remain agile in today’s economic climate.

Small and medium-sized businesses also show that adaptability and efficiency are key motivating factors for hiring online professionals with 73-percent of businesses citing the flexibility to scale up and down quickly as a key benefit and 60 percent indicating faster time to hire vs. traditional hiring approaches yielding huge time savings.

Below are some of the key findings from the survey:

Businesses Gain More Mileage with Hybrid Hiring Models
Growing numbers of companies are planning to scale up their online hiring after reaping the benefits of a flexible, on-demand team of experts. Eighty-three percent of businesses plan to hire at least 50 percent of their workers online in the next 12 months, and nearly half of all businesses plan to make 90 percent of their hires online. Only 10 percent of respondents plan to hire 90 percent onsite and 10 percent online in the next year, showing strong business interest in expanding internal teams with professionals in the cloud.

Online workers play a key role to businesses with 87 percent of survey respondents indicating that online contractors are a vital part of their business. Several key drivers that motivate businesses to hire online include cost savings (85 percent), flexibility to scale up and down (73 percent) and faster time to hire (60 percent). In fact, 94 percent experienced at least a 25-percent time savings by hiring online while 76 percent have cut their times by 50 percent or more. In addition, 89 percent of respondents have realized a significantly reduced time for project cycles while 66 percent sliced half or more off project completion times.

Experience Trumps Age and Cost in Online Hiring
While cost is commonly assumed as the number one reason companies hire online, businesses indicated that the top criteria for hiring online is experience shown through feedback/ratings (64 percent) and work samples/portfolio (63 percent). Only 30 percent of respondents cited cost as the top consideration for hiring online.

The survey also revealed that a degree from a top university is not an automatic edge for online professionals, with only 1% of businesses indicating that as a top hiring consideration. Further defying long held assumptions, none of the businesses cited age as the most important criteria for hiring online and 2 percent cited location.

Forecast Sunny for Hiring in the Cloud
With much of the country focused on job growth and hiring trends, the news from the traditional employment sector has brought little comfort. The survey revealed that 64 percent of businesses have not hired any new full-time equivalent employees in the past 12 months, and only 15 percent plan to hire a full-time employee or employees in the next 12 months.

In contrast, the outlook for online hiring shows promise: 84 percent of respondents made at least two online hires over the past year, and 75 percent of businesses plan on increasing or maintaining the level of spend on hiring online professionals over the next 12 months.

It’s Not Who You Know, But What You Do
Having a presence on the web is no longer just nice to have, but an essential business strategy. While businesses are tapping into online talent for literally hundreds of unique skills and talents, many are finding value in professionals who can contribute to the development, design and content germane to doing business online. Survey respondents cited Web Programmers/Developers (73 percent), Graphic Designer/Multimedia Experts (63 percent) and Writer/Blogger/Content Creators (39 percent) as the most valuable online professionals to their business in the last 12 months.

Working on Their Own Terms
Multitasking extends beyond the digital age as the survey revealed many professionals are moonlighting as entrepreneurs. Thirty-six percent of business respondents say they are starting or operating a business while working full or part-time traditional onsite jobs, while 57 percent of respondents own their own business as their full time job.

About the Study
Elance conducted this survey from August 16 to August 19, 2011. More than 300 U.S.-based Elance businesses participated in the online survey. Visit Elance for more information on the survey and to view results.

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