Tech & Work

Consulting gigs abound on the Web

You can find lots of contract work on the Web. Here's Jennifer Recktenwald's take on a few Web sites that offer job databases for IT consultants.


When you’re comparing some products, quality matters. A filet mignon costs a lot more than a flank steak, but it tastes better any way you slice it.

On the other hand, some products and services are the same no matter where they come from.

This proved to be true for the Web sites I checked out that offer job databases for IT consultants. I measured the quality of each site—on a scale from one to five—based on three criteria: the number of jobs listed, services and add-ons, and user-friendliness. I found that they all do basically the same thing: they allow you to search for jobs and post your resume, and offer you some enhanced services for a fee.

ConsultLink
Portera’s ConsultLink allows users to search for projects specific to job function, such as Web design, strategy, or training. Unfortunately, I couldn’t determine how many jobs were listed.

Although ConsultLink is designed more for employers than consultants, it’s still simple and user-friendly enough for both to find useful. For instance, consultants can be found based on criteria such as the market size they serve, area of specialty, where they’re willing to work, and skills.

The site also includes a research center, bookstore, and information about Oracle products and services. (I wondered why no other vendors were featured here.)

Setting up a profile is free for consultants, while employers pay a $15 fee to view each profile.
  • Number of jobs listed—2
  • Services and add-ons—3
  • User-friendliness—4
Total score—9
FreeAgent.com
This one is a pretty deep site. When I searched, there were 3,755 technology projects up for grabs and 7,300 free agents in the technology field, so it looked like the odds of getting a contract were pretty good.

Like ConsultLink, FreeAgent features keyword search capabilities for postings, and it’s definitely designed for job seekers rather than employers.

Where FreeAgent excels is in the business services and work support areas. Registered users can purchase auto, disability, health, liability, and other insurance benefits. FreeAgent also offers e.office service, which includes benefits as well as invoicing, collections, expensing. The setup fee is $199, then $274 per month.

The site also offers peer forums and expert advice broken down by industry, although there’s not much depth in this area. For a first-time user, it’s difficult to keep track of where you’ve been. I found myself going back to pages I’d already visited.
  • Number of jobs listed—3
  • Services and add-ons—4
  • User-friendliness—2
Total score—9
Dice.com
This is a monster of a site. On the day I visited Dice.com, more than 219,000 high-tech jobs—both permanent and contract—were listed. Users can search by job function and location, as well as receive e-mails about jobs requiring specified skills.

There are some good links to career resources, but the site is focused more on the volume of its listings rather than on the peripheral offerings.
  • Number of jobs listed—5
  • Services and add-ons—2
  • User-friendliness—3
Total score—10
HireAbility.com
HireAbility is a good little site for free agents and independent contractors. It seems to be aiming to fill a niche for consultants who prefer user-friendliness to the quantity of job listings. HireAbility’s resource center offers information on trends in contract work, advice on how to sell your skills, and tips for programmers.

It’s free to set up an account with HireAbility, but enhanced services cost money. Setting up a free account will enable you to search through the site’s job database.
  • Number of jobs listed—3
  • Services and add-ons—4
  • User-friendliness—4
Total score—11
Although some ranked better than others in certain areas, you can see that the total scores are similar. From a quick glance at the sites I’ve mentioned, it looks like you could get jobs from any of them. I’d like to know whether you’ve had luck with these or any other Web sites that offer job listings for consultants. Post a comment below or send me a note.

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