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SMBs and the Online Workforce: Long-Term Relationships are the New ‘Gig’

Freelance Opportunities Are GrowingThere might have been a time when hiring freelancer online meant short-term contracts and cost savings for companies, but new research shows that employers are thinking differently about what web-sourced workers mean to a project.

Business owners are hiring at higher salaries and for longer-term arrangements, according to a new report by Elance. The study shows that 50% of the employers it polled are now bringing on online workers to handle multiple projects, not just one. And pay over the past year has increased by 69% year-over-year.

“I’m still re-hiring freelancers from just about every project I’ve done,” said Bill Calhoun of BillCalhoun.com. “Once you get your feet wet and establish a trusted relationship, it’s easy to hire again and again.”

Let’s look further into the numbers, and see what else the Elance study shows about owners such as Calhoun.

One of the trends in online hiring is that business owners are using web-based searches and platforms to find specialists in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Elance’s survey showed the following:

  • Demand for data scientists and statisticians is up 200%.
  • The demand for mobile-app developers increased 49% with continued growth in demand for iOS, Android and HTML5 skills. Demand for software application developers was up 62%.
  • The demand for networking and security experts saw remarkable growth with an over 300% increase in hiring.
  • The rise of 3D printing is pushing demand for computer-aided design experts in the U.S. The number of 3D-printing related jobs was up over 200% while the overall demand for U.S. based CAD talent grew nearly 70%.

“The ability to hire the best available person online and on-demand is becoming an essential strategy for agile businesses of all sizes,” said Fabio Rosati, chief executive officer of Elance.

If the numbers in the report bear a message, then, it’s that owners’ staffing strategies are more fully embracing the online workforce. And that leads to stories like those of freelancer Dave Russell.

“In early 2012 I was given a life-changing opportunity to work with a brilliant company,” Russell said. “It was initially just a 30-hour contract, but we got along so well that we continued working together—I was even invited out to Mountain View, California to meet everyone in-person . . . I’ve not only improved my skills, but I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting and working with incredible people.”

The concept of hiring-up via the Internet has become an everyday practice, and pay and contracts are enjoying the parity that comes with increasingly proven success.

 

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