What is a talent marketplace?

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


By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist @ Gloat

January 24, 2022

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For a long time, most talent management rules were simple. Employees were hired to do a specific job. 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. They were created to support HR as an administrative function and they did just that—nothing else.

Today, HR is a much more strategic role, and the same set of tried and true 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 disruptive technology to unlock agility, prepare for the future of work, and ensure they have the right skills in the right place. And that’s where one game-changing new tool comes into play: the talent marketplace.

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. So what are they?

To put it simply, the internal 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.

The benefits of utilizing a talent marketplace

There’s no denying that implementing a talent marketplace is a major change. Schneider Electric was amongst 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 transformative benefits, including:

  • 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.

    But while many organizations understand the importance of agility, most don’t have what they need to unlock it. Namely, leaders are lacking full visibility into their workforces’ skills and capabilities 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.

    In contrast, talent marketplaces break down barriers so that your people can share their skills and expertise 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 employees don’t see a future with your organization, they’re going to build one somewhere else. 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 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. Employees need a chance to put what they’re practicing into action to develop new expertise.

    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. Best in breed talent platforms also have a rich, unified workforce ontology that acts as a single source of truth for skills management, enabling leaders to see all of the capabilities in their workforce in a singular view.

  • Enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
    Most diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives overlook one key truth: we’re all biased. We all have underlying assumptions that unconsciously skew our viewpoints and sway our decisions. Fortunately, talent marketplaces enable leaders to pretty much remove bias from the equation. The platforms use ethically-constructed AI to level the playing field, democratizing career development and increasing the visibility of opportunities and talent–in turn mitigating bias.

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:

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. If you want to learn more about leveraging talent marketplaces to prepare for the future of work, check out our Organizational Agility page to discover how you can take workforce planning to the next level.

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