Lots of employment-oriented Web sites simply provide resume databases and job boards for IT professionals. But others, like SkillsVillage.com, are trying to reinvent the entire process of hiring and deploying them.

The brainchild of CEO Chris Wong, formerly of PeopleSoft Inc., SkillsVillage.com was launched in August 1999 in Santa Clara, CA. The site’s clients range from Fortune 1,000 companies, to start-ups, to staffing firms. A sampling of projects being offered at this writing include a one- to three-month chief software engineer position in Manhattan, a six- to 12-month Siebel consultant project in Georgia, and a three- to six-month technical writing job in Seattle. Overall, 320 projects are listed.

Whether you’re an independent contractor or a firm looking to hire subcontractors to help complete your projects, SkillsVillage is a great place to search. In this article, we’ll tell you how to use the site to make the connection with the employer or contractor that fits your needs.

Tools for contractors
If you’re a contractor interested in becoming part of the supplier network, visit the SkillsVillage.com home page and click the Contractor tab. After you register with the site (it’s free), you can create a Digital Portfolio that lists your work history, skills, professional affiliations, and the types of projects you’re looking for. You can specify where you want to work, the role you want to play, and how much you want to be paid.

The information you enter in the Digital Portfolio will help project hiring managers find you when they search the SkillsVillage Xchange for contractors with your experience. In the same way, you can use the Xchange to search for projects based on your desired location, rate, and role. An advanced search option helps you find projects using highly detailed criteria, and a Saved Search feature lets you define the criteria you use most often from your digital portfolio.

To find a project, click on Basic Search, define your Criteria, and then click the Search button.

When you find a project that interests you, you can click the Contact button to notify the hiring manager. Using Xchange’s software agents and tools it includes to facilitate communication, both you and the hiring manager can schedule interviews and even make or accept offers online. An Xchange History feature provides a summary of your selected projects and records all the communication between you and the hiring manager.

Tools for hiring managers
If you’re searching for a contractor, use the site’s Requirements tool to edit and manage your project requirements, which are then used in the SkillsVillage Xchange to help you find the right contractors.

Within the Xchange, you can click on a contractor’s username and view their Digital Portfolio to get detailed information about their skills and experience.

As an alternative, try SkillsVillage DIRECT, which provides business process outsourcing for finding, hiring, and managing contract workers. SkillsVillage DIRECT services include:

  • Order fulfillment: personalized support and planning from an account representative throughout the contractor search and procurement process
  • Supplier management: an aggregated network of subcontractors, staffing firms, and other workforce resources
  • Knowledge management: accumulated process and cost information across all aspects of the hiring life cycle, which helps users make smarter, more informed hiring decisions.

Managing your projects
SkillsVillage.com also provides a Work Journal, which is designed to help you manage a project from beginning to end. Its components include:

  • A Time Entry feature that allows you to record the number of hours you’ve worked on a project and submit it to the project manager.
  • A Progress Log for recording and tracking specific activities.
  • A Project Issues log that helps you record and report any problems you encounter.
  • A Project Report that summarizes all the information you enter.

After the project manager approves the information in your online journal, the data is automatically captured in your Digital Portfolio, so your skills and work history are updated continuously. Project managers can also rate each entry in your Work Journal.

SkillsVillage Resource Center
Another SkillsVillage feature is the Resource Center, which offers links to IT forums, educational resources, and virtual-office tools such as audio conferencing and online meeting services. There is a fee for most of these features, but some of the companies providing them offer special programs and discounts for SkillsVillage members.

For more information about SkillsVillage.com, visit the site and take the online tour or send questions to more_info@skillsvillage.com. If you’re interested in the site’s approach to reinventing employment services, you also might be interested in eWork Exchange, which offers similar features and benefits. You can also read a recent TechRepublic review of eWork Exchange.

Thomas Pack is a freelance technology reporter.

Is SkillsVillage.com a good tool for contractors or project managers who need to hire subcontractors? Have you found a better online service that can handle these tasks? Post a comment below or send us a note.