The U.S. unemployment rate continues to be just under double digits, and those looking for work are becoming increasingly frustrated with the job market — to say nothing of the overall economic climate. But a new era of hiring appears to be emerging, giving job-seekers and job providers an opportunity to connect more directly.
The Next Web’s Martin Bryant highlights the trend, citing the creation of companies such as Task Rabbit and Skill Share. Task Rabbit allows users to request a task — any task — they need completed. Other users who are able to perform the task put in bids to establish how much they would like to be paid to do so. The system automatically assigns a “runner” who completes the task. At this point, the tasks in the system are simple — think dog-walking and basic handyman services. But the service could prove to be a growing economic driver if more complex tasks with the potential for higher bids are posted.
Skill Share, like Task Rabbit, pairs people who wish to learn a subject or skill with others who are able to teach them. As the global economy continues to contract and tuition costs continue to rise, services such as Skill Share provide an avenue for employment and an affordable learning format.
Meanwhile, the yet-to-be launched Pal Locale will allow users to “rent” people with particular skills. Referred to as “pals,” these skilled workers charge an hourly rate for their services, which, as advertised on the site, can range from tour guide to golf instructor.
These companies are meeting an urgent need, breaking down the walls to hiring by using peer-to-peer platforms. As Bryant writes:
“In the current economic climate, it makes sense to offer platforms for people to sell themselves. The likes of AirBnB and Couchsurfing, not to mention longer-standing examples like eBay and Craigslist, have shown that the Internet is the best marketplace there is, and there’s clearly money to be made in allowing users to ‘self-serve’ each other with products and services — it may even become a necessity.”
But Bryant also raises the point that, although the number of such sites appears to be growing, it is yet to be seen whether demand will rise to meet it. Will users of Task Rabbit, for example, raise the complexity of the tasks they request and, in doing so, increase the amount of money changing hands? And these sites do not promise permanent employment, only a way to earn some supplemental income.