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IT Jobs: What Was Hot in Online Hiring in 2010 and What’s Ahead?

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What were the hot IT skills employers were looking for in 2010? Elance, the online jobs platform, issued its annual review of the hot jobs for the year and some predictions for the year ahead. While the company’s analysis is skewed by its focus on online, contract employment, it provides an interesting snapshot of that fast-growing segment of the marketplace.

In the case of Elance itself, the company said over 375,000 jobs were posted at the site this year, during a time of rising unemployment in the U.S. overall. Elance said online workers earned more than $100 million in total for the year. Elance said it’s tapping a fertile market, citing estimates by the Freelancers Unionthat 30 percent of the U.S. job market (about 42 million workers) is made up of independent contractors, part-time or temporary staffers and the self-employed.

“More businesses integrated online workers into their staffing models and more professionals opted to work online instead of onsite, marking a fundamental shift in labor practices in 2010,” Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance, said in a statement.

More broadly, Elance’s top five “Hot” and “Not” list of jobs skills for the year is headed by Search Engine Marketing which saw a 53 percent jump in demand, followed by iPhone, Google App Engine and HTML5 developers, which saw an uptick of 35, 32 and 31 percent respectively. Affiliate marketing positions saw the biggest jump, 69 percent, from 2009.

It wasn’t all good news on the mobile side as demand for BlackBerry developers dropped 19 percent. Also on the “not hot” list were DHTML (-13 percent) and Amazon Web Services (-6 percent). Finishing up the top five not hot list were direct marketing and telemarketing, down 10 and 6 percent respectively.

On the marketing side, Elance said there was a significant shift in 2010 as businesses moved away from traditional marketing techniques like direct mail and telemarketing to Web-based forms of promotion and customer acquisition like Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. “Next year, traditional marketing will become even more obsolete as businesses will be drawn towards viral and social marketing methods,” the report said.

The death of resumes?

Online hiring sites like Elance encourage the use of digital portfolios, which the company said provide richer detail than a traditional paper resume. In the past year, Elance said over 300,000 worker profiles were posted at the site.

“In 2011, expect referencing of verified work history, digital portfolios, online test scores, online reviews, social graph and social media footprint to become the standard for hiring short or long-term employees,” the company said.

Elance also included what it rated some of the best and worst moments in work for the year. Hard to argue with their pick for worst overtime experience: the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days. The drama “showcased to the world just how strong team morale can be, no matter how bleak the situation,” said Elance.

The full report is available here

Elance competitor oDeskalso reported a top five list of the biggest growth areas in tech for the year (tracking November, 2009 to November, 2010). Demand for Android-related skills grew a whopping 680 percent, Facebook up 343 percent and the social media category in general rose 323 percent. Twitter and WordPress skills rounded out the top five with a 193 and 182 percent growth respectively.

The oDesk report, available here, predicts that more than 500,000 employers (25 percent of those in the Fortune 500) will tap cloud-based workforces for the first time in the next year.

“The past year has seen a dramatic uptick in the number and variety of online job opportunities,” Gary Swart, oDesk CEO, said in a statement. “On-demand workers are fulfilling the needs of businesses looking for flexibility, on-call expertise and access to a wide range of skills. The future opportunities in this demand economy are boundless.”

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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