Chris Russell

3 min read

Recruiting Trends

Talent on Demand – Top Sites for Temporary Help

Talent on demand is the hottest, new old trend in workforce management.

It’s hot because organizations and individual workers are embracing talent on demand like never before. We say it’s an old trend because freelancing and moonlighting have existed for decades.

It’s new, because instead of purely being a way to supplement an income or take on odd jobs during periods of unemployment, talent on demand – more rightly called “gig” work – is becoming an accepted career choice.

Well before the Covid pandemic, the gig economy was growing briskly. Between 2014 and 2019 the number of workers taking on short-term jobs at least part of the time grew almost 8% to 57 million.  

Covid accelerated the trend as businesses were forced to shut down or have their employees work from home. The latest survey by the gig work site Upwork says 59 million Americans now participate in the gig economy to some extent. Last year, they earned $1.2 trillion. Millennials and Gen Z workers are driving the growth, aided by an increasing number of retirees. 

While many turn to freelancing out of necessity, the majority of talent on demand workers adopt it for the benefits it offers. The flexibility of working where and when they want tops their list. Many also cite the variety of projects and clients; not having to answer to a boss, and the ability to earn more than they would in a traditional job.

Businesses now are also more open to contracting for specific projects and tasks. Many see talent on demand as a way to supplement their workforce without adding to headcount. Others find they can get the expertise of top professionals they might not otherwise be able to hire.

Behind the growth of the talent on demand economy is the internet and the gig work platforms that match freelancers to jobs. The three largest – Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer – have millions of remote work projects, tasks and assignments among them. Other sites, like TaskRabbit and Wonolo, offer in-person gig jobs.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 of the better known, general work sites. Besides these, there are dozens of others, like 99designs, that specialize in specific professional services.


One of the world’s largest networks of freelancers and contractors, publicly held Upwork is global in scope. All work is virtual and goes through its proprietary platform. Businesses post their project needs and freelancers on the network bid for the work. The platform includes ratings, freelancer portfolio, contracts and billing.


Similar to Upwork and also publicly held, Fiverr’s focus is more on low-budget, short-term “gigs” with quick turnaround times. The key difference is that freelancers offer their services, rather than bid on specific jobs. Businesses select the contractor based on reviews, portfolios and service levels. All arrangements go through the Fiverr platform.


The business model is similar to Upwork. Contractors and freelancers bid on projects posted by businesses. (It also has a direct hire feature.) The service buyer selects the contractor from online ratings and portfolios. The commission charged to freelancers varies with the type of project.

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Part of Amazon, businesses (called requestors) post “Human Intelligence Tasks” that are typically simple, repetitive and can be performed remotely by multiple Turkers. Survey taking, processing photos, identifying images, confirming details, or cleaning or completing databases are among the typical tasks. Minimum fee is 1 cent per task.


Toptal promotes itself as offering high quality, full vetted professionals in software development, design, finance and product and project management. It’s most effective in the tech sector. Businesses are matched with talent appropriate for their specific need or project. Engagements typically are for weeks or months. Toptal’s costs are among the highest.


This marketplace operates much like the larger Upwork and Freelancer. It has fewer jobs, with the largest number in programming and web development. Employers can post jobs free. Work is performed in Guru workroom. Guru charges freelancers a 9% commission on work.  


This well-known, highly trafficked global classified’s site may be the oldest online place for hiring gig workers. Though it’s lost much of its luster in recent years, Craigslist still has a strong following. Depending on the locale, the gigs section may get dozens or hundreds of new listing daily, many of them seeking in-person immediate, temporary help. Freelancers can post their services. No commissions, but small posting fee.


Owned by Ikea, this labor marketplace is for small, short-term jobs that require an in-person presence. Typical jobs are help moving, house cleaning, furniture assembly, pet walking and minor home repairs. Used by small businesses and individuals. Freelancers set rates by the hour, but are highly negotiable. Only available in major urban areas.


This virtual staffing firm provides hourly workers in a limited number of job types, many of them in logistics, clerical, food handling and events. The jobs are short term. Workers are pre-screened. Wonolo will background check workers. Workers opt-in to posted jobs or are matched to employers and begin work immediately. 


Not exclusively for gig work, the site has a mix of part-time and project work. All jobs are flexible, remote or both. Employers can post a limited number of jobs free and receive applications as they would on other job boards.

Contribution by author John Zappe

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