Over the past decade, there has been an enormous shift in the jobs landscape, with more and more people choosing to enter what we now call the gig economy. Freelancing has become highly desirable among professionals looking for more autonomy and flexibility in their work lives, while individuals looking to hire skilled professionals for various tasks are increasingly turning to freelancers. The numbers reflect this massive shift: in 2014, one in three U.S. workers freelanced—that’s a staggering 53 million people.
Online talent platforms have played a major role in driving this growth by making it easy to both enter the gig economy and find and hire freelancers.
What Are Online Talent Platforms?
Within the past decade, the world saw the creation of the first online talent platforms. Task Rabbit launched in 2008, while Freelancer.com and Thumbtack launched in 2009. These platforms created a space for people to market their skills and services and connect with potential clients. Additionally, they provided a simple way for everyday people to contract skilled professionals to help with household tasks and work projects.
Since then, there has been a proliferation of online talent platforms. Some have reached unprecedented popularity, like Uber, which is used each day by millions of people worldwide. Others have played a lead role in creating the concept of a sharing economy, like Airbnb, which allows users to share their homes. These types of platforms have paved the way to freelancing for all and have changed the way we do business.
A Networked Approach
Online talent platforms function by combining the features of a social network with those of a career site. Just as people flocked to join sites like Myspace and Facebook, online talent platforms are easy to join and are surging in popularity. Through personalized profiles and facilitating direct communication, these platforms allow users to get to know one another on both a professional and personal level.
The most successful online talent platforms make their users feel like they are part of a community, rather than serving as a recruiting organization. For example, Humans.net eliminates the middleman that is commonly found on these sites—typically a member selects a service from a list of categories and the platform then recommends professionals who match their needs. Humans.net instead allows users to choose who they work with and provides tools for direct communication, that way they get to know who they are hiring.
A Technologically-Advanced Approach
Online talent platforms have evolved considerably since their initial inception, mainly due to technological advances. By leveraging new tech features, these platforms can streamline the user process, make it possible for people to start their own business ventures, find skilled professionals for every type of task, and access a global network—all with the click of a button.
The key feature of these platforms is a powerful search function; a crucial tool for helping clients find the skilled professionals they need. Most platforms also offer a mobile app to keep up with the surging number of mobile users. A newer tech capability that Humans.net implemented from the get-go is location mapping, which lets users search for others based on their location; an important feature for clients who are specifically looking to work with people in their local area.
An All-In-One-Place Approach
Online talent platforms are transforming the standard approach to finding skilled experts for both personal and professional projects. They allow users to access a wide pool of service providers all in one place. Whether the user is looking for a babysitter, dog walker or graphic designer, the best platforms will cater to everyone. They also allow users to market their skills and connect with potential clients—no matter their background, skill sets or experience level.
When it comes to leveraging an all-in-one-place approach, not all platforms are equal. Many popular sites focus on just one service category. Though this approach continues to be effective for established platforms like Uber and Airbnb, new players entering the space will have to build their business model around offering everything in one place. This is in order to remain competitive and keep up with growing user expectations.
Online talent platforms have opened the door to the gig economy for millions of workers across the nation and around the world. Their user-friendly platforms and network-based communities have made the possibility of freelancing a reality for millions. Through tech-savvy features, open communities and an all-in-one approach, these platforms are changing the way people do business.
Bottom Line: Online talent platforms offer a new model that is convenient, fast and accessible, and is the future of business.
Vlad Dobrynin is the founder of Humans.net, the one-stop-shop for finding work and finding help with every task imaginable. With decades of experience working with startups and established brands in 12 countries, Vlad’s expertise spans the banking, telecom, and technology sectors. His specialties include general management, corporate strategy, marketing and product management. Vlad holds an Executive MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics.