Current state of freelancers in LinkedIn

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As of September of 2013 there are 780,627 profiles in the Unites States with the word freelance in either the title or job description. This is a number that we are monitoring closely as our findings show that freelancing is going up or at least the use of it for titles and job descriptions among professionals in LinkedIn. I read an article by Shane Snow, CCO of Contently about how as much as half of us may soon be freelancers, and in the article he lists 6 compelling reasons why – take a look, I think you would agree with his view about freelancing.

In LinkedIn, there are 780.627 profiles in the U.S. that list freelance as part of the title or job description, however, only a small percentage of that number are software developers, designers and writers. The chart below shows the percentage of profiles that include freelancing in them and how they are divided by skill:

Freelance professionals in LinkedIn

It is interesting to note how much larger the percentage for writing is when compared to software development and design. This difference between development and writing is best displayed below:

Freelance professionals

The numbers above are important and we are paying attention to them as it is vital for our startup and also because we like to keep track and analyze data, we are data geeks. Freelance has been around for many years but it has never been more popular than it is today. With the high demand of developers, designers and other professionals and the difficulty of finding and hiring people with the right attitude, startups and large companies will now require a hybrid workforce of full-time and freelance teams to meet the demand and continue to be competitive.

The chart below also shows how the number of freelance professionals with design and front-end development skills is increasing, this group is almost equal in size as the number of software developers that are not designers or front-end developers.

Freelance Developers and Designers

The freelance writers is the largest group, this is composed of various type of freelance professionals such as bloggers, copywriters, social content experts, editors, etc. This is yet another proof that content is in fact very important and now everyone knows it and the demand for it is high. Also, with so many old-media companies going out of business or cutting staff, it is not surprising that a large number of writers and editors are going freelance or starting new businesses as the folks of Contently are doing now.

What about entrepreneurship you might ask? what about more people going into startups? while it is true that starting a business or joining a startup is becoming increasingly popular among skilled professionals and students, it is also true that startups and new businesses are having a hard time recruiting people to work for them full-time, finding people with either the right attitude to learn or the necessary skills to get the job done is a hard task. Most skilled professionals and people with the attitude to learn are either starting their own business or doing freelance work for somebody else, the trend seems to be going in that direction as people start to dislike the idea of working for a single company and working in the same or similar projects all the time.

As the trend continues, startups and established businesses would have to create a hybrid workforce where they include freelancers as part of their core team, if they don’t, then these companies are in risk of getting behind and lose their competitive advantage as finding people to work for you 9 to 5 becomes increasingly difficult.

Ricardo D Sanchez

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Ricardo Sanchez is the Founder of OnTechies. He writes about technology, small businesses, startups and trends and tweets at @Ricky

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