Even with the still-sluggish economy, the online job market surged in the first quarter of 2012, powered mainly by a strong uptick in business process outsourcing (BPO) and virtual assistant jobs, according to a new report from Freelancer.com.
More than 170,000 online positions were added to Freelancer job boards in Q1 of 2012, up from just 130,000 in the previous quarter. Freelancer.com says the increase in online job listings can ironically be attributed to the stagnant economy, giving hiring managers greater reason to look to contractors as viable alternatives.
"In a difficult global economic climate, businesses are looking to optimize their cost base and are therefore looking to online freelancers as a profit driver," Freelancer.com CEO Matt Barrie noted in a release. "This has seen significant job growth on the Freelancer.com marketplace, despite challenging broader economic conditions."
The fastest-growing sector within the outsourcing community was for back-office and non-core business support. The number of BPO jobs listed increased more than 300 percent in the quarter, up from 1,278 to 5,150. Data entry, Excel and data processing sectors each experienced strong growth, solidifying them as three of today's top four largest freelancer communities.
Meanwhile, the number of virtual assistant (VA) jobs more than doubled in Q1, up to 3,205. VAs, who provide tasks such as data entry, article marketing, email responding and phone reception, have begun finding positions at small and medium-size enterprises who have found the need to offset their low margins with cost savings from off-shore labor.
Other areas of growth include the mobile app development sector and the HTML5 community, which helps build the next generation of open Web standards. The steady decline of Flash has helped to add nearly 1,000 new online jobs for mobile app developers and HTML5 specialists.
"Projects are up over 30 percent compared to the previous quarter," Barrie added. "The huge growth in outsourcing is made up of a wide range of different types of projects being completed in countries all across the globe."
The only sectors to decrease their number of job postings for outsourcers were telemarketers and Flash-related companies. The other 48 industries experienced at least modest growth.
Edited by Braden Becker