FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, September 17, 2004

Reverse Auctions for Jobs

Could we be approaching a workplace future where we apply for jobs by bidding on them on eBay?

Maybe not... but online auction markets for jobs is a distinct possibility, and is already being used in certain areas. One Massachusetts hospital has implemented an online system allowing nurses to reverse-bid on extra overtime hours. The hospital posts the shift and the top rate it's willing to pay, and the lowest bidder wins. So far, the system seems to be working out well; the hospital is filling open shifts in a cost-effective manner, and the nurses are able to pick up overtime at a decent rate and at times convenient to them.

Web-based job-matching systems for consultants and freelancers, such as Guru.com and eLance.com, have been around for some time, and of course we're all familiar with job search sites such as Monster.com. But perhaps this is a sign that market-based job systems are finding their way into the mainstream. If, as many economists and management experts believe, we're becoming a "freelance nation" in which we all move from job to job as we complete individual projects, systems such as these will become essential.