The Complete Guide to Talent Marketplaces

The Complete Guide to Talent Marketplaces

This article was originally published on AIHR by Andrea Boatman.

More and more companies are starting to understand the benefit of making better use of their internal talent to fill skills gaps. A talent marketplace is an excellent way to connect your employees to internal opportunities. Let’s dive into what talent marketplaces are all about.

What is a talent marketplace?

Employers are wise to take full advantage of their current employees’ competencies. However, it can be challenging to know exactly what is available and be able to uncover hidden internal talents. This is especially true for larger organizations operating in multiple locations. The solution is a single resource that can identify and develop employees’ skills and then align them to openings.

A talent marketplace is a technology-enabled platform that connects employees with potential positions and developmental opportunities within the organization. It increases efficiency and offers value to both the employer and employee by supporting people’s career aspirations and meeting the organization’s changing labor demands.

The talent marketplace strategy is rapidly emerging within many corporations and even military systems. Global bank, UBS, believes that well-developed employees become assets to the corporation. They implemented a talent marketplace in 2019 to support a culture of internal career mobility and make the most of what their staff could offer.

With a talent marketplace, employees who are looking for internal mobility can take ownership of their career trajectories. They can find out what skills they need and have access to ways to acquire or improve them. As employees are empowered, employers can maximize their potential to support business success.

The Complete Guide to Talent Marketplaces

How does a talent marketplace work?

A talent marketplace is typically a two-sided platform that captures and shares data. It uses AI to match employees’ skills with appropriate opportunities within the organization.

The way it works is similar to how we use a travel booking app to find a hotel. On one end is a database of hotels and their amenities. On the other end, you input the criteria you’re looking for (location, dates, amenities, etc.) It then presents you with a list of available hotels that suit your parameters.

The talent marketplace platform houses all available postings for positions, training, projects, temporary assignments, etc. Employees input a profile of their skills and interests, which can be updated as they develop their abilities through training or new experiences. Algorithms create matches and make recommendations to relevant candidates based on their capabilities and interests.

Departments across an organization can use a talent marketplace to either announce or find the right person for opportunities such as:

  • Formal and informal learning and training events.
  • Open positions.
  • Short-term projects (gigs.)
  • Cross-functional assignments.
  • Career path options.
  • Mentoring programs.
  • Specialized teams.

This system simplifies the process by offering employees on-demand and direct access to opportunities without going through their manager. Additionally, managers can consider applications and make selections without involving a third party.

HR’s role in talent marketplaces

Implementing a talent marketplace platform can mean that HR lets go of some direct involvement in the internal staffing process. Instead of resisting this change, HR professionals can accept it as an opportunity to reinforce their strategic function as a business partner. Working in an oversight role, you can educate and support employees and leaders in using the talent marketplace.

Some of the ways HR can help make the most of the platform include:

  • Assessing which skills are needed most for key roles.
  • Rethinking and rewriting job descriptions and postings.
  • Linking training and career paths to the specific skills required.
  • Tracking training results.
  • Assisting employees with creating and updating their profiles.
  • Helping managers spot the opportunities to post to the marketplace.
Benefits of Implementing a Talent Marketplace

Benefits of implementing a talent marketplace

A talent marketplace offers a range of benefits to both the organization and the employees. Here are some of the key advantages:

Building an agile workforce

Technology is constantly evolving, priorities shift, and the pace of business continues to accelerate. It’s crucial to be fully aware of which skills are in high demand and whether your staff has them.

Organizations with a talent marketplace platform have insight into their employees’ capabilities. This enables them to remain successful while coping with restructuring or other challenges by placing people in the right roles.

Consumer goods company, Unilever, credits its talent marketplace for the ability to adapt during the 2020 pandemic wave. By reallocating 4,000 employees to areas where the demand was higher, it protected jobs and dispensed 300,000 hours of productivity.

In short, deploying talent marketplaces is among the top HR trends that we believe will shape the world of work in the years to come.

Upskilling and reskilling your employees

Upskilling and reskilling current employees is a cost-effective way to source the right talent for upcoming operational needs. With access to a talent marketplace’s internal opportunities, your employees are matched to projects where they can get hands-on experience to gain new skills and expertise.

As they become equipped for new roles, you will be able to close the skills gaps within your organization.

Attracting talent

Job seekers are looking for employers dedicated to investing in employees’ long-term growth and development. A talent marketplace can make you stand out as an employer. It shows that your organization prioritizes internal mobility and career development by investing in the growth of employees. This helps potential recruits envision a future with you.

Engaging and retaining employees

Opportunities for internal mobility are among the top motivators for staying at a job. High performers have the desire to expand their skills, so they want to take on new experiences and work with different people. A talent marketplace empowers employees to do just this.

Employees who are encouraged to pursue their career paths internally are more likely to see the hope in staying and being engaged with their employer.

In 2020, a Schneider Electric employee’s current department was experiencing a slowdown, so he decided to explore the talent marketplace for options. He discovered a promotion opportunity located in the department where he had worked as a new hire nine years prior. He landed the job and returned to his original department as a leader.

Knowing there is a chance for advancement or reinventing their career, employees will put their best foot forward and produce more. As they move into projects and new roles, they gain perspective and insight, and you get to keep their honed institutional knowledge and experience for your organization.

Reinforcing diversity and inclusion

A talent marketplace can uncover talent and open doors for employees who could otherwise be overlooked. The use of AI removes the potential bias that can happen regarding a person’s perceived and actual capabilities.

Spotify built its talent marketplace, Echo, to make certain that everyone would be able to tap into growth opportunities. “Woven into everything we do at Spotify is our ongoing commitment to Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB), and Echo is no exception.”

Providing equal access to opportunities for all employees will inevitably help foster diversity and inclusion in your organization.

The Complete Guide to Talent Marketplaces

How to use a talent marketplace effectively in your organization

A talent marketplace can be customized according to your organization’s needs, but there are some considerations for implementing and using it effectively. These steps include the following:

1. Define the purpose and goals

Anytime a new strategy is introduced, there must be clarity on what problem you are trying to solve. You need to know what you want the talent marketplace to achieve before you can pick the right platform for your organization.

Here are some common outcomes companies strive for with a talent marketplace:

  • Finding permanent new opportunities for employees.
  • Offering more cross-departmental projects.
  • Leveraging available employee skills.
  • Enabling talent reassignment.
  • Dealing with seasonal changes in demand.
  • Offering employee-centric growth opportunities.
  • Bringing transparency to your internal mobility program.

2. Carefully select a technology solution

A talent marketplace can’t function without the right technology and a good user experience. Customization capabilities will differ significantly with each product, so you must find a platform that suits your organization’s specific needs and aligns with your goals.

You can do online research, shortlist a couple of platforms, do demos, and ask plenty of questions. An important factor is how the talent marketplace software will integrate with your other systems. This process may be more complicated than vendors imply, so be sure your tech experts are onboard and adequate support is provided.

Since many employers are seeing the value in talent marketplace platforms, numerous vendors are striving to meet the demand. Here are just a few of them:

  • Fuel50 – Serves mid-size businesses, enterprises, government, and nonprofits.
  • Gloat – A leading provider geared toward enterprise organizations.
  • Eightfold.ai – Targets mid and large-size organizations, including government entities.
  • smartPeople by HRForecast – Focuses on mid-size businesses, enterprises, and government.

3. Facilitate the talent marketplace adoption

Once you have selected a talent marketplace platform, you need to make sure that it will be well accepted and utilized. Start at the top of the organization and get support by communicating how the marketplace will help meet business needs internally. You can share insights from research on what has worked for other companies with talent marketplaces.

Take into account that managers may be apprehensive about temporarily or permanently losing valuable team members who will have access to new prospects. Explain that the talent marketplace will also furnish available talent and skills to fulfill their needs quicker. If possible, offer incentives to leaders who encourage their team members’ development. It can help them champion the talent marketplace notion.

The marketplace will only work if people participate, so get the message out to employees. They need to know how they can benefit from the platform’s ability to provide learning and career development. Also, reassure employees that leadership encourages and fully supports using the platform. Employees shouldn’t hesitate because they fear that their managers will resent them.

Conduct formal training on how to use the system. It should include not just how to navigate the platform but also tips for how to take full advantage of what it offers.

Ongoing communication to employees about the talent marketplace and what it offers encourages continued involvement. Sharing success stories of those who have taken advantage of it can inspire co-workers to give it a try.

4. Evaluate how the marketplace is doing

You can get an idea of how effective your talent marketplace is by measuring certain data. Here are some of the metrics you can look for:

  • Number of active users
  • Departments with the most active users
  • Departments posting the most opportunities?
  • The most sought-after opportunities
  • Number of users that have saved, shared, applied for, and found opportunities

It can take time for workers to fully embrace a new system, so the data may not reflect gains immediately. Review the numbers after the first week and then every thirty days for the first several months. That way, you will know if you need to promote the talent marketplace more in certain departments or find other strategies.

You can also check in with users. Surveys for participating managers and employees can reveal their satisfaction level and interest in continuing to use the marketplace.

The marketplace will settle in and evolve over time. Then you will have more apparent outcomes that you can attribute to it, such as skills gained, turnover, and post-opportunity performance.

5. Make internal mobility part of your culture

Don’t treat a talent marketplace just as another type of technology in your HR toolbox. It needs to become a vehicle for talent mobility within your organization, where people are supported to explore different opportunities and focus on their own growth.

A culture of internal mobility starts with leaders being transparent about their buy-in on the talent marketplace. Fostering continuous learning and development builds trust and encourages a growth mindset for employees. They will feel supported and convinced to use the marketplace to try new opportunities and develop their careers.

When Unilever announced its launch of a talent marketplace in 2019, Jeroen Wels, Executive VP of HR, stated, “We believe that our people are much more than their job title. If our people thrive, we thrive as a business.”

To conclude

Talent marketplaces empower employees and managers to share skills and talents while also building new organizational capabilities. They also provide insights needed to have a future-proof workforce.

HR professionals can be the driving force behind a talent marketplace to grow and advance your organization from within now.

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