Despite a stagnant employment market in 2011, online hiring has grown at a record pace, up more than 100 percent from 2010. Elance, a platform for online workers and employers, released its "2011 Online Employment Review," which reveals that the future of work will be contingent, global and online. As more companies seek instant access to talent and greater flexibility to run their businesses, individuals are taking control of their future by building careers as independent professionals, the report concluded.
Online work thrived this year with 650,000 new jobs posted, and cumulative earnings set to surpass $500 million. The number of businesses hiring on Elance and the number of online professionals working on Elance grew more than 120 percent. 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 regions hardest-hit by unemployment such as Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina.
The number of businesses seeking to hire online workers doubled in 2011. An analysis of the more than 650,000 jobs posted on Elance this year highlights skills in demand, including online 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); and marketing skills such as Internet marketing (+132 percent), marketing communications (+53 percent) and telemarketing (52 percent).
Other areas that saw strong growth involved administrative skills, including transcription (+114 percent), administrative support (+87 percent) and data entry (+69 percent); and consulting skills such as product manufacturing (+186 percent), architectural design (+185 percent), financial analysis (+140 percent), legal (+86 percent) and business strategy (+76 percent).
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 Web-based contractors online in the next 12 months. The global demand for U.S. talent has increased steadily over the past year, and is set to grow even faster as online platforms 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.
The report also found more people are pursuing independent careers and using online platforms to reinvent their careers. The 2011 Elance survey of online freelance professionals indicated that nearly one in three workers began freelancing to be their own boss and to 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 commuting (85 percent).