Peter Imes: Finding work and workers online

August 12, 2010 12:38:00 PM

Peter Imes - [email protected]


Unemployment in the Golden Triangle now ranges anywhere from 10.7 percent (Oktibbeha County) to 22 percent (Noxubee County). In light of these staggering numbers, I think now may be a good time to review a few methods of finding both work (for the unemployed) and workers (for employers).  




Traditional methods 


Newspapers continue to be a popular method of advertising for small and medium sized businesses. Larger corporations use websites such as Monster, Yahoo HotJobs and Career Builder to advertise their openings. These sites currently list hundreds of full and part time jobs in the Golden Triangle area. Get familiar with these sites and check them often if you are looking for work. Employers looking to advertise openings should be prepared to pay for the ad. Employment ads are big business for both traditional and online postings. This newspaper offers a very affordable classified ad option for locally owned businesses. Check out the classified section for details. 


eLance for  


freelancers allows certain skilled freelance workers to bid on work projects submitted by employers. The site facilitates projects in the following categories: graphic design, website design, programming, writing, translating, sales, marketing, finance, legal and engineering. Once an employer posts a job, freelance workers have the opportunity to bid on that job. As the workers bid, the employer can review the bids, look at the profiles of the bidders and select a winning bid. 


Most work posted on eLance is not full or even part time work. Instead, the work tends to be just one task or project; however, if you are an out of work professional in one of the above categories, you may want to pick up the odd job while looking for permanent employment. Over 31,000 projects have been posted on eLance in the past 30 days. 


eLance provides an escrow service that allows the employer to deposit the total amount of the project into an account. Once the worker reaches certain milestones in the project, the money is released. eLance provides mediation services in the event a dispute arises between worker and employer.  


Posting a project on eLance is free for the business. eLance charges the freelance workers based on the number of bids they place as well as on the money they earn. They do have a free plan that allows workers to bid on up to 10 jobs per month, but in my experience you need to be placing more than 10 bids a month to get any significant amount of work. Don''t be scared off by paid plans-think of them as an advertising expense. 


I''ve used eLance to both post jobs and to find work and think it is a great system. For the employer the service gives you access to very skilled workers who will compete for your business. For the worker, eLance opens up a whole new world of work and gives you a safe place to interact with employers. I should warn freelancers that competition is quite stiff on this website. You will be bidding against workers from around the globe so you must be good at selling yourself and you must be competitive in your bids. Other sites like and offer similar services, but I''ve not had much success with anything other than eLance. 




Mechanical Turk 


Though it seems computers can do more and more these days, there are still some things that only a human can do. Mechanical Turk is a service that allows a company to post a project that needs a human. Generally, these projects are very simple. On a brief review of the site I found a company that needed a person to look at a bunch of photos and to click on a person''s head in each photo. Another project involved transcribing a voice in a video. Yet another task involved looking at business cards and identifying the various pieces of information (name, address, phone, company, etc). 


Once an employer posts a project, workers -- or turks -- can choose to complete them. Unlike eLance, there is no bidding process. If you feel you can do the job, you simply agree to do it and then get it done. Each project lists how much money you make per task. Most projects earn you pennies per task, but keep in mind that we are talking about VERY simple tasks. The ones I saw recently could be done in seconds each. You won''t get rich off this service, but you should be able to make a little extra money.  


The service can help a business by taking small, menial tasks and using an army of random people to complete them in a short amount of time. Businesses can use the service for inexpensive proofreading, collecting information for a database, and any number of other tasks. The service has methods of ensuring quality control.  


As an interesting side note, Wikipedia says the name Mechanical Turk comes from The Turk, which was an automatic chess machine that was invented in the 18th century. This machine was carried all over Europe and beat some very smart people, including Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte. It was later revealed that there was in fact a chess master hidden in the "machine" that controlled the moves.  




Write for money 


Have a way with words? Websites like and will pay you a set amount to write on particular subjects. 


When seeking work online, make sure you are using reputable websites. There are a lot of online scams on the Internet, but as long as you use common sense, you should be all right. 


Peter Imes is publisher of The Dispatch. You can email him at [email protected]