My 16-year-old son has been home with the ‘flu, so we watched the movie “In Time.” A sci-fi thriller, the movie imagines a future where time is – literally – money. You work today to earn time to live tomorrow. Interesting concept. I work part-time, so in relation to the movie, my time would run out a bit early I guess. However, sitting there as a working mother, watching a movie in the late morning with my son made me reflect on my job situation. Working from home can be long and lonely at times, but I have to say the flexibility it gives is fabulous, and for that I’m grateful.
When we hear the word “job,” most of us think about a worker with an employer and a regular paycheck. In reality, according to the “World Development Report on Jobs” from the World Bank, the majority of workers in some of the poorest countries are completely outside the scope of an employer-employee relationship. Worldwide, more than 3 billion people are working, but their jobs vary greatly. Some 1.65 billion are employed and receive regular wages or salaries. Another 1.5 billion work in farming and small household enterprises, or in casual or seasonal day labor. Across the world, the nature of work varies hugely as statistics from the report show:
- Labor force participation by women in Vietnam is 77% versus 28% in Pakistan
- Employment growth over ten years in the U.S. is 10x versus just 2x in Mexico
- 21 million people are victims of forced labor
- 115 million children are working in hazardous conditions
- In order to keep up with current employment rates, 600 million jobs are needed over 15 years
- 90 million people are working abroad.
The report also points out the contradictions of the labor market and our future workforce. Companies worldwide are crying out for new talent and skilled workers, because they are unable to fill vacant positions – even as unemployment rates have been skyrocketing.
So where can companies look for talented and skilled workers? Jobvite’s 2012 Recruitment Survey draws an exciting picture of how companies and recruiters have embraced social media as a dominant force in finding and hiring quality employees. Not only does social recruiting increase the number of applicants in the hiring pipeline, but also the quality of candidates. LinkedIn is by far the favorite social networking site that recruiters either use or plan to use (93%) but Facebook (66%) and Twitter (54%) are rapidly growing. Headlines from the report include:
- 92% of employers or recruiters used or planned to use social networks to find job candidates in 2012.
- 73% of recruiters said they had hired someone found or introduced through social networks.
- 43% of recruiters saw an increase in candidate quality since implementing social recruiting.
On the other side of the equation are, of course, the job seekers. Jobvite surveyed over two thousand adults, the majority in the American workforce. The survey revealed that 88% of all job seekers have at least one social network profile – 64% have two and 44% ensure maximum coverage with three profiles. The large majority have profiles on Facebook (85%) while LinkedIn – which recruiters prefer – only accounts for 44%. So the trick for prospective employees is being on the right social media platform.
However, the job market online is expanding rapidly beyond social networks. One fast growing employment platform is Elance. The site was originally launched in 1999 due to a need for technology capable of supporting virtual work. A couple of years later they introduced a vendor management system for contractors and third-party services, but since 2006 Elance has focused on developing its current platform for online, contingent work. As of February 2013, Elance is used by approximately half a million businesses, and more than 2 million registered freelance professionals.
In its “Global Business Survey 2012”, Elance states that 85% of the surveyed businesses feel they have an advantage over their competitors by hiring online. Only 6% disagree with this statement. So what is the nature of this advantage? The three benefits that ranked highest were: cost savings, faster time-to-hire, and access to talent not otherwise available. The average cost savings of the businesses surveyed was 53%. The survey also revealed a huge desire to hire more freelancers – in fact, 73% were planning on hiring more – and the majority of these hires would be online.
The top five most sought after hires:
- Web Programmer/Developer (70%)
- Graphic Designer/Multimedia Expert (61%)
- Writer/Blogger/Content Creator (38%)
- Online Marketer (SEO/SEM/Social Media) (32%)
- Mobile Developer (28%)
For the budding entrepreneur the site CoFounderLab is there to help. Their focus is on bringing together entrepreneurs, whether looking to join a startup or seeking a business partner to join them. Traditionally, entrepreneurs turn to friends and family when searching for business partners, making the search quite limited. The CoFounderLab allows a much wider search for talent.
One big challenge, as “work” steadily continues to move toward more flexibility both in terms of schedule and location, is finding the perfect work-life balance. There are already some personal assistant tools out there, e.g. Siri, but perhaps it would be better to take a more holistic approach. For PSFK’s “The Future of Work” report they challenged creative agencies to come up with concepts that address the increasing demands for flexibility in work and life. One resulting concept is called Moneypenny – a next-generation digital assistant that evaluates your overall day in terms of time, location, personal interactions, weather, traffic conditions and more, and then manages your daily schedule and allows you to prioritize more fluidly, giving you flexibility if needed and focused, uninterrupted time when you need to concentrate.
It is still just a concept. So for now I will have to manage my own work-life balance by making sure my work day starts early, thereby giving me the flexibility to perhaps watch a movie with my unwell son in the middle of the day.
Development Report on Jobs from The World Bank: