Elance Business Survey

A detailed look at online work and hiring trends
August 2011


  • 87% of survey respondents indicated that online contractors are a vital part of their business
  • Feedback/ratings (64%) and work samples/portfolio (63%) were rated the most important criteria for businesses when making a hiring decision
  • 83% of businesses plan to hire at least half of their workers online in the next 12 months
  • Survey respondents cited Web Programmers/Developers (73%), Graphic Designer/Multimedia Experts (63%) and Writer/Blogger/Content Creators (39%) as the most valuable online professionals for their business in the last 12 months

I would classify myself as a:

I'm starting 6 different businesses at the same time using Elance!

—Mike Hall. Entrepreneur

How many full-time employees (including yourself) does your company employ?

1 (I work on my own)
More than 500

Which best describes your current working status?

I have a full or part-time job and am in the process of "starting up" a business on the side
I have a full or part-time job and am already "operating" a business on the side
I have a full or part-time job but am not starting a business on the side
I own my business and it is my full-time job

Which of the following are you including in your hiring plans for the next 12 months?

Increase my level of spend on hiring contract professionals online
Maintain the same level of spend on hiring contract professionals online
Hire more contract professionals/freelancers online to help me on a project basis instead of hiring another full-time employee
Hire a full-time employee or employees

How many new employees (full-time equivalents) has your organization hired in the past 12 months?

1 onsite hire
2-5 onsite hires
6-10 onsite hires
11-25 onsite hires
More than 25 onsite hires

How many online workers (including part-time or project-based workers) has your organization hired in the past 12 months?

1 online hire
2-5 online hires
6-10 online hires
11-25 online hires
More than 25 online hires

I prefer hiring talent through an online process to hiring via a traditional phone and in-person process.

Strongly agree
Strongly Disagree
Do not know

Approximately, what does your online/onsite hiring ratio look like for the next 12 months?

What are the top criteria you consider when hiring online?

Important Neither Important
nor Unimportant
Feedback/Ratings 33% 3% <1% 0%
Work Samples/Portfolio 36% 1% 0% 0%
Costs/Rate 59% 9% 2% <1%
Certifications and Skill Tests 46% 25% 10% 3%
Location 21% 32% 20% 25%
Degree from Well-known University or College 6% 35% 29% 29%
Age 3% 31% 23% 43%

Which top three online workers have been the most
valuable to your business in the last 12 months?

Web Programmer/Developer
Graphic Designer/Multimedia Expert
Writer/Blogger/Content Creator
Online Marketer (SEO/SEM/Social Media)
Administrative Assistant
Mobile Developer
Marketing Strategy Expert
Legal Professional: Patent Attorney, Tax Attorney
Engineer for Product Development
Financial Expert/Accountant
Project Manager

How important are online contractors to your business?

The contractors I hire on Elance
have a huge impact on my business.
They free up a considerable amount
of time and increase our ability to
get work done.

—Mike Anderman, Proforma 123

Have you realized a shorter
time to hire online than your
previous hiring methods?

Have you realized faster
project cycles (time to
complete projects) than
your previous methods?

What overall percentage cost savings
have you realized from hiring online?

More than 100% savings
76-100% savings
51-75% savings
26-50% savings
11-25% savings
0-10% savings

I started my company with Elance contractors and I've been using Elance to pinch hit
ever since. My customers think we can handle anything and with Elance we can.

—Rex Klein, Barryhund Administrators Inc.

What motivates you to hire online workers?

Cost savings: less expensive than full-time employees or onsite contractors
Flexibility to scale up and down quickly
Faster time to hire
24 hour/7 days a week access to talent
Faster project completion cycles
Geographic reach: I can find niche or specialized skills that I can't find near my business location
Better candidate information: online portfolio, skills tests and feedback trump a basic resume
Increased visibility: ability to monitor and collaborate online