By Alex Konrad, reporter
FORTUNE -- Why it's hot: It's no secret that in this still-shaky economy, most job growth comes from temporary assignments. In the first quarter of 2012 alone, job site Elance added 80,000 employers seeking freelancers and 180,000 new contractors for them to hire. Both startups looking to scale operations flexibly and larger companies outsourcing bits of projects need virtual-workforce managers who can oversee the entire process, from hiring to final product.
What you'll do: It's no longer enough to outsource the specs of a project to another firm and then wait for the result. Managers must build their own freelance teams and then use social enterprise technology to guide them through each step of the process. Such work requires a firmer hand than in the past, says Elance CEO Fabio Rosati. Managers "must be conductors, bringing together skilled professionals to work [like] musicians," even if the ensemble never meets face to face.
What you'll need: Traditional outsourcing management skills are key, as are the type of strong communication skills required by a hands-on manager. Also needed: comfort with social-enterprise and task-management software such as Elance, Guru, or Yammer and three to five years of experience -- often in tech, but also in customer service, marketing, or accounting.
What it pays: $80,000 to $120,000.
This story is from the July 23, 2012 issue of Fortune.
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