2011: Online Employment Review

A Record Year for Online Work

Despite a stagnant employment market in 2011, online hiring has grown at a record pace, up more than 100% from 2010.

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. The number of businesses hiring on Elance and the number of online professionals working on Elance grew more than 120%.

Elance 2011 Snapshot

Active Contractors 550,000
Active Clients 130,000
Job Posts 650,000
2011 Earnings $156 million
Lifetime Earnings $655 million

2011 Reflections: Hot Skills in Demand

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 online:

Software Development

+238% HTML5
+137% Mobile
+100% WordPress
+66% Facebook
+47% Twitter

Creative & Marketing

+176% Graphic Design
+132% Internet Marketing
+72% Content Writing
+53% Marketing Comm
+52% Telemarketing


+114% Transcription
+87% Admin Support
+69% Data Entry
+52% Research
+48% Customer Service


+186% Product Manuf
+185% Architectural Design
+140% Financial Analysis
+86% Legal
+76% Business Strategy

2011 U.S. Earnings

In the U.S., worker earnings rose in
43 out of 50 states including:
Washington (+170%)
South Carolina (+146%)
Michigan (+98%)
Nevada (+98%)
Florida (+52%)

2011 Global Earnings

Earnings grew in more than 100
countries around the world including:
Spain (+184%)
Greece (+142%)
Kenya (+108%)
Philippines (+107%)
United Kingdom (+85%)

2011 U.S. Exported Services

U.S.-based contractors exported services to
more than 140 countries, with a significant increase in more than 60 countries including:
India (+188%)
Singapore (+151%)
Switzerland (+110%)
Australia (+72%)
United Kingdom (+59%)

2011: The Best and Worst Moments in Work

Best way to get fired

Charlie Sheen
Actor Charlie Sheen, star of the series Two and a Half Men and the highest paid actor on television, publicly made derogatory comments about the series' creator, which resulted in the Warner Bros. studio officially banning him from entering its production lot. After demanding a 50% raise, the studio finally fired Sheen from the show and replaced him with actor Ashton Kutcher for the new season.

Best way to get hired

Freelancing on Elance
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. The number of businesses hiring on Elance and the number of online professionals working on Elance grew more than 120%.

Uncertain future

Global Economy
World economies have struggled throughout 2011, with little relief in sight. Carrying five times as much debt as Greece, Italy is seeing its borrowing rates soar to unsustainable levels of 7.56%. The eurozone’s third largest economy is deemed as too big to fail or bail out.

Bright future

Online Work
Online work across all platforms passed $1 billion in 2011, and job creation accelerated with 650,000 new jobs posted on Elance alone. The number of businesses hiring on Elance and the number of online professionals working on Elance grew more than 120%. Earnings for Elancers rose in more than 100 countries around the world.

Rise in global population

7 Billion People
The human race hit another major milestone in October, reaching a population of 7 billion, only 12 years since we hit the 6 billion mark. Nearly all the projected growth this century is expected to occur in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, while the combined populations in Europe, North America and other industrialized nations will remain relatively flat.

Rise in Elance population

Elance Nation
The number of contractors who have joined Elance has more than doubled since last year, up over 134% over 2010. More than 17,000 contractors per week are becoming citizens of an Elance nation with more than 1.3 million registered Elancers on the site.

End of an era

NASA Space Shuttle Program
In July, NASA shuttle Atlantis and its four-astronaut crew landed home for the final time, wrapping up 30 years of defining achievements for NASA's storied Space Shuttle Program—the conclusion of its 135th mission. NASA will now focus on the design of the recently announced Space Launch System.

Beginning of an era

Human Cloud
More people are pursuing independent work in the so-called “Human Cloud.” The 2011 Elance survey of online freelance professionals indicated that nearly 1 in 3 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%), follow their passion (87%) and eliminate the commute (85%).

Worst communication

Carol Bartz
After struggling through 2011 with a slumping stock price and a number of departing executives, Yahoo!’s Chairman of the Board fired CEO Carol Bartz—over the telephone. As a follow-up communication, Bartz sent an email to all Yahoo! employees from her iPad announcing that she had been fired over the phone.

Best communication

Elance Workroom
Earlier this year, Elance introduced My Apps, a new suite of robust applications to help get work done more efficiently and effectively. The new productivity applications keep you better organized, allow users to share screens for enhanced collaboration and participate in video chats to maintain regular communication with your team—all from your Workroom.

Mobile demise

In October, millions of RIM BlackBerry users were without service during a three-day network outage across the globe, causing massive frustrations for those who relied on RIM for business and personal communications. A month later, Google stopped offering its Gmail application for Blackberry users. Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has largely struggled as well, with its market share actually falling since the beginning of 2011.

Mobile uprising

iOS and Android
Other mobile platforms, however, saw dramatic increases over the last year. iOS (185% increase) and Android (137% increase) continue to dominate the mobile market and show no signs of slowing down.

Ditch your old boss

World Leaders
When 2011 began, Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya) Silvio Berlusconi (Italy) and George Papandreou (Greece) were entrenched leaders of their respective nations. By the end of the year, all four nations ended up seeing new regime changes, and there is still turmoil and economic uncertainty in these countries.

Be your own boss

Independent Professionals
According to Elance surveys, 89% of independent professionals state that working independently or freelancing is an important part of their career strategy. On the client side, 87% indicated that hiring independent professionals is a vital part of their business and 83% of them plan to hire at least half of their workers online in the next 12 months.

Top Online Careers for 2012

Online hiring for specialized skills will continue to expand in 2012. Top careers include:
Software Developer
Visual Designer
User Experience Designer
Digital Marketer
Technical Writer
Web Researcher
Data Analyst
Content Moderator
Distributed Workforce Manager

What's Hot and Not in Work in 2012

Hot Not
Freelance Entrepreneurs Horrible Bosses
Virtual Office Corporate Office
Digital Profile Conventional Resume
Flexible Schedule 9 to 5
Telecommuting Commuting
Multiple Clients One Employer
Facebook Office Gossip
Multi-touch Keyboard & Mouse
Internet TV Traditional TV
Smartphones & Tablets Desktops

Looking Forward: Predictions for 2012

Prediction #1: 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.

Prediction #2: 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 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.

Prediction #3: 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 platforms like Elance to facilitate compliance with their internal controls and evolving government regulations.