What is a talent marketplace?

Inside the talent marketplace: the game-changing platform that unlocks workforce agility

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat
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For a long time, most talent management rules were simple. Employees were hired to do a specific job, and they had one manager who was, in turn, being managed by someone else in the same function—all the way to the top. Everyone stood on one rung of the same vertical ladder, and ultimately all employees had the same choice: climb up or step off.

Since there wasn’t much room to challenge the status quo or think outside of the box, talent management tools weren’t built for agility.

Today, HR is a much more strategic role, and the same set of tools therefore no longer suffice. Modern people leaders aren’t just filling out spreadsheets; they’re revolutionizing the way we work and transforming the employee-employer relationship. They need transformative solutions to unlock agility, prepare for the future of work, and ensure they have the right skills in the right place. And that’s where talent marketplaces come into play.

What is the talent marketplace?

Talent marketplaces aren’t an upgraded version of traditional HR technology. They’re not human capital management platforms 2.0.

To put it simply, the talent marketplace is a two-sided platform that harnesses the power of AI to align employees (and their skills) to projects, gigs, mentorships, and full-time roles within their organization.

You don’t have to look far to see how marketplace dynamics have already transformed other aspects of our daily lives. We don’t need to call for a cab anymore or rely on hotels when we’re going out of town; instead, Uber takes us where we want to go and Airbnb helps us find a place to stay. Talent marketplaces utilize the same model to transform the way we work, giving HR and business leaders on-demand access to qualified candidates who can be deployed to new projects as priorities evolve and new challenges emerge.

Utilizing the talent you already have

Traditionally, the dominant way to fill emerging skills needs was through external hiring. Businesses repeated the same lengthy process of attracting and recruiting talent, interviewing qualified candidates, extending offers, and onboarding.

Yet, as the hiring landscape gets more competitive and the pace of innovation accelerates, forward-thinking companies are looking inwards to unlock the capacity they’re looking for without the lengthy applicant search and recruitment process.

Prioritizing internal candidates over external hires comes with several key benefits for both employees and employers. Workers are empowered to expand their skill sets and grow their careers with their organizations. At the same time, organizations can save time and money by prioritizing internal mobility, while also streamlining their onboarding process. Since internal candidates already have a wealth of institutional knowledge at their fingertips, getting them up to speed becomes faster and easier.

The benefits of utilizing a talent marketplace

There’s no denying that implementing a talent marketplace is a major change. Schneider Electric was among the first of the pioneering organizations that launched their platform, and their VP of Digital Talent Transformation, Jean Pelletier, goes so far as to say, “It’s a complete rewrite of HR. You need to think differently about speed and how to go deep and broad in an organization using AI.”


While it might be a major change, the talent marketplace also comes with some game-changing benefits:

Unlocking agility
Agility emerged as the make-or-break factor for businesses during COVID-19. And the importance of reacting and evolving quickly is only going to increase as we look beyond the pandemic and enter our new world of work.

While nine out of ten executives believe organizational agility is critical to business success, most leaders don’t have what they need to unlock it. Namely, leaders are lacking full visibility into the skills of their workforces so that talent can be redeployed at a moment’s notice to meet evolving priorities. Talent marketplaces put these rapid pivots and fast-paced redeployments well within reach.

Breaking down silos
Traditional rigid hierarchies are a recipe for organizational silos. When employees only know what’s happening within their department, knowledge remains trapped within various segments of the business. Employees’ skills and capabilities only get utilized within their teams, preventing your workforce from achieving its full potential. As a result, companies lose 20-30% in revenue each year due to inefficiencies caused by silos.

In contrast, talent marketplaces break down barriers so that your people can share their skills with colleagues across the organization. Employees can collaborate cross-functionally, lend a hand when they have extra capacity, and come together to help your enterprise achieve performance goals that may have once seemed out of reach.

Improve engagement and retention
If your people don’t see a future with your organization, they’re going to build one somewhere else. 52% of exiting employees say their manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving.

For a long time, many workers thought vertical progression was the only direction that their careers could take. Talent marketplaces expand their horizons, empowering employees to move laterally and seek out new opportunities that align with both their skills and ambitions as well as your business priorities.

Future-fit upskilling and reskilling
Since the World Economic Forum predicts that 50% of the workforce will need upskilling by 2025, the clock is ticking when it comes to building future-fit skills. In the past, L&D initiatives often failed to make an impact because they were missing a critical piece of the puzzle: experiential learning.

There’s no doubt that the right skill-building approach makes an impact. 93% of CEOs who have introduced upskilling programs noted that they’ve seen an improvement in retention as well as productivity gains.

To maximize the efficacy of your skill-building strategy, employees need a chance to put what they’re learning into practice. Talent marketplaces take training to the next level by matching people to projects, gigs, and mentorships that will provide the hands-on experience that was once lacking.

Making opportunities accessible to all
In addition to the benefits listed above, talent marketplaces have emerged as a powerful tool for breaking down barriers and democratizing career development. A recent survey of 400 tech executives indicates that talent marketplaces have significant potential to achieve successful diversity, equity, and inclusion outcomes. Furthermore, businesses that are more diverse tend to benefit from higher levels of employee engagement.

Rather than letting potentially bias-inducing factors such as geographic proximity and personal networking sway career mobility decisions, talent marketplaces harness ethically-constructed AI to level the playing field. The internal candidates that the platforms suggest are recommended based on their skills and experiences, and nothing else. As a result, talent marketplaces can surface qualified employees who may have once been overlooked.

3 typical features of talent marketplace platforms

While no talent marketplaces are identical, most platforms offer some of the same features, including:

Career pathing
Career pathing is the process of aligning opportunities for employee career growth with organizational talent priorities. The most impactful tools don’t just show people one potential path; instead, they present users with a few different options for what direction their careers can take based on their skills and interests, so employees can choose the path that fits best.

Succession planning
Succession planning is the process of identifying the critical positions within your organization and developing action plans to ensure your business will continue to have the talent needed to fill those roles. Rather than relying on traditional succession planning tactics that may have prioritized a small subset of your workforce, organizations can harness talent marketplaces to identify the next generation of leaders from across their company and give everyone the opportunity to build the skills they need to lead your business into the future.

Mentoring
In the past, mentorship pairings were usually a guessing game. Leaders needed to make inferences about which colleagues would benefit most from working with one another, but it was challenging to accurately track and align employee interests and experiences.

In recent years, talent marketplaces have eliminated the need for guesswork, enabling pairing processes that are more efficient and accurate. The platforms go beyond obvious matches and generate suggestions based on your employees’ skills, interests, and professional ambitions. This means that you might see pairing suggestions that you never would have thought of, but will work based on what your people are looking to achieve.

What kinds of results are talent marketplaces helping businesses achieve?

Talent marketplaces may be a relatively new development, but plenty of businesses are already leveraging the technology to achieve impressive results. Some inspiring examples include:

  • Schneider Electric credits their talent marketplace with helping the enterprise unlock more than 200,000 hours and generate a savings of $15,000,000 in productivity gains and reduced recruitment costs
  • Unilever achieved a 41% improvement in productivity after launching its platform. As their Executive Vice President of Human Resources Jeroen Wels explains, “With Gloat, we can further accelerate our transformation towards a more agile, innovative, and empowered organization.”
  • Seagate’s talent marketplace has generated a savings of $1.4 million within 4 months of launch. “The talent marketplace has saved us millions in contractor spend and helped us provide an opportunity for our people to grow,” notes their Chief Human Resources Officer Patricia Frost.

How to select a talent marketplace?

The rise of the talent marketplace is great news. As the technology becomes commonplace, more businesses will be able to democratize careers and start unlocking the agility needed to thrive in their next chapter.

But it also means that choosing the right platform is now a high-stakes decision. Since this technology is designed for your entire organization to use, there are a lot of factors to weigh. If you’re looking to make a selection with confidence, here are the questions you’ll need to answer:

  • Is the platform scalable
  • Have other companies implemented it successfully?
  • What is the product built to do?
  • What kind of internal opportunities will users be able to access?
  • Are change and enablement help included?
  • What kinds of users is the talent marketplace designed for?
  • What does it take to get started?
  • Is the AI ethical?

A few years ago, talent marketplaces were fledgling technology. But with the new war for talent, the gig economy, and the rise in hybrid work as powerful accelerants, these platforms have become ubiquitous among agile and pioneering organizations, especially when combined with the right workforce intelligence. To learn more about what it takes to get ahead in the new world of work, find out how workforce agility platforms can help you future-proof your workforce.

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