It’s Time: Expanding the World’s Work Marketplace Into Full-Time Work

Dave Bottoms
Dave Bottoms
February 13, 2023
February 13, 2023
It’s Time: Expanding the World’s Work Marketplace Into Full-Time Work

Today, every company is on a quest for global talent that matches the right skill sets to drive business outcomes, while that talent is in pursuit of the right work arrangements to fulfill personal and professional goals. The situation becomes ever more acute when layoffs are the norm and macroeconomic uncertainty abounds. Especially amid the new ways of working, the dream is for both skilled professionals and companies to be able to work with whom they want, where they want, through whatever work arrangement suits them best. But that dream continues to be far from reality when it comes to full-time hiring.

To meet this critical moment in time, Upwork has expanded our work marketplace solutions to support full-time hiring for all our customers for the first time, bringing to bear the expertise, experience, and technology that we’ve been developing for decades.

Full-blown problems with full-time hiring

Accessing the global talent pool and hiring the right skilled professional from a far-off locale into a full-time position is both difficult and frustrating, if not downright impossible, for most businesses, regardless of size or geography. While parts of this process—finding, vetting, hiring, and paying—can be accomplished through disparate tools and platforms, there hasn’t been one end-to-end solution that does it all. Few business leaders and hiring managers have the expertise, capital, time, and technology to cobble together the means to make the right full-time hire and avoid the costly ramifications of a bad one. Because of procedural red tape and inefficiency, lack of quality talent sources, and inconceivably complex international employment laws, full-time hiring, especially on a global basis, is an astronomically expensive bet, a heavy time investment, and a classification nightmare for employers. The process ultimately equates to a leap of faith for everyone involved.

Top talent has legitimate gripes about full-time hiring, too. It’s hard for anyone to know what a company is truly like until they’ve started working there. We’ve all heard cautionary tales of professionals who experienced their own version of “buyer’s remorse.” After committing to go full-time for a company, they find the organizational culture, managerial style, pace, work/life balance, business need for their skill set, or scope of the role didn’t meet their expectations.

Neither clients nor talent initially know what it’s like to work with the other. Unfortunately, the full-time hiring process as a whole is antiquated, risky, and fraught with opportunity cost for both parties.

Time for a better way to hire

At Upwork, we believe that hiring full time should feel more like building a relationship over time than plunging in and taking a risk. Searching for, finding, vetting, and ultimately hiring candidates, classifying, and arranging payment, should all be simple and seamless.

In parallel, freelance or fractional arrangements should be a choice. Businesses and talent should have the flexibility and fluidity to choose how they want to work together, landing on the best arrangement for each side of the hiring equation.

Accessing the best talent to build out a team, no matter where they’re located around the world or how they choose to engage, should be easy and efficient. And now, it can be.

Bringing the best of freelancing to full time

To enable that choice and flexibility and address the litany of issues with full-time hiring, Upwork has expanded our offerings to support full-time hiring for all our customers, a solution steeped in years of expertise and technology. We’ve seen organizations and skilled global professionals build trusted, long-term relationships on our platform for as long as we’ve been in business. We know how transformative it is to find that perfect fit for a business need, without worrying about the complexities of global hiring.

This significant strategic expansion marks another milestone in our journey of evolving into the world’s work marketplace, connecting our customers in the ways they most want to work together, and enabling the productive, enduring relationships that are so important to them and their success. 

According to survey data gathered for Upwork’s 2022 Future Workforce Report, an overwhelming 93% of hiring managers often or occasionally convert freelancers into full-time employees. Their top reasons for converting freelancers to full time include the quality of the freelancer’s work (71%) and the ability to try working with professionals before hiring them as full-time employees (41%). 

With Upwork’s new solution for full-time hiring, clients can easily and quickly find, vet, hire, onboard, and pay talent from over 165 countries across more than 10,000 skills who are interested in full-time work. That vetting process is also a two-way street; both parties now have an opportunity to “try out” a contract-to-hire working relationship before they commit to a full-time engagement.

Full time conversion

A detailed look at the full-time conversion page within Upwork after a company and professional have built a relationship.

In terms of demand for a full-time option on Upwork, the numbers speak for themselves: Already, since we started testing our full-time hiring solution and features, more than 2 million professionals on Upwork have indicated openness to contract-to-hire opportunities. And just since the beginning of 2023, clients have posted more than 40,000 contract-to-hire jobs on the Upwork marketplace.

Upwork search and freelancer profile example

Finding full-time opportunities for professionals, and finding talent open to full-time opportunities for companies is straightforward with an enhanced tag and filter system.

One such client, Julianna Nikolic, Reproductive Sciences Management Company’s Chief Strategy Officer, gives us a glimpse into that experience: 

“At RSMC, our mission is to provide the highest quality fertility care services, but we can’t accomplish our mission without highly skilled talent. Whether they’re freelancers or full-time employees, they factor into the work we do and the services we deliver as part of the patient experience. As our business needs change and grow, having experience working with a freelancer allows us to move them into full-time roles with confidence, because we’ve already seen their best work and we know there’s synergy in the working relationship. Because we’re first able to work with them under a freelancing contract, we can identify skill sets they have and match those with full-time opportunities within our company. Upwork has allowed us to convert many people into full-time roles that are really integral to our business.”

Once clients and talent make the right match and substantial risk is eliminated from the full-time hiring decision, clients can choose to manage onboarding, contracts, and payments through a centralized hub for the end-to-end solution that includes Upwork’s world-class payroll, compliance and classification, and contract management tools. These capabilities were formerly reserved for Enterprise Suite clients but are now available for businesses of all sizes to use with global talent sourced either from Upwork or their own networks and hiring pipeline.

Full-time hiring is available to Enterprise Suite users, along with exclusive access to expanded capabilities required by large businesses. Enterprise Suite’s robust platform delivers customized onboarding workflows, systems integrations, and advanced reporting to classify, hire, and pay full-time talent at scale and accelerate talent innovation.

Upwork classification details on payroll employees and independent contractors

Upwork allows clients to navigate even the most challenging global labor laws to ensure they can hire locally and globally.

New full-time hiring on Upwork is the only solution that provides the trust, transparency, and flexibility to find the right full-time hire—or company—with confidence. Now, businesses can come to Upwork to find and work with the absolute best talent anywhere in the world, whether freelance, fractional, or full-time, equipped with the expert guidance to navigate hiring constraints. Even amid tech industry layoffs and broader economic uncertainty, skilled professionals can come to Upwork to find an abundance of opportunities that fit their needs, passions, and preferences—whether short-term projects, long-term independent work or, now, full-time jobs.

At Upwork, this is how we work nowTM. As the world’s work marketplace, we partner with our customers every day to redefine how work rises to meet our collective potential. We’re just scratching the surface with this expansion into full-time hiring, and we’re excited to keep building a future of work that works for everyone.

If you’re ready to find the right full-time opportunity, see open jobs today, or if you’re looking for the best talent for your business, log in to see professionals open to full-time opportunities.

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Dave Bottoms

Dave Bottoms leads Upwork's Marketplace organization, a global team responsible for the core Talent Marketplace, search & discovery, ads & monetization, core mobile experiences, new product innovation, economics and analytics. Dave brings more than 20 years of experience in Silicon Valley to Upwork. He joined the company in 2022 from Meta, where he led the Ads Manager Platform and Experiences team responsible for the flagship enterprise product used by millions of small businesses and global advertisers to drive valuable outcomes across Facebook and Instagram. Prior to Meta, Dave led the self-service customer growth team at Dropbox, and prior to that led multiple teams at Yahoo,including the Homepage, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, and International. Dave holds a BA in English literature from Denison University.

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