Why Build an Internal Talent Marketplace

Why And How To Build An Internal Talent Marketplace

This article was originally published on People Managing People, written by Alex Link.

As an HR Leader, I regularly have coaching conversations with colleagues about their development and their desire to be promoted. Historically these conversations usually run along the same vein: “I’ve been in my role for years and haven’t been promoted”, “I put in 50 hours a week, I deserve a promotion”, “Vijay on Bill’s team was just promoted – I don’t understand why I haven’t been promoted yet.”

Every one of these conversations highlights the same challenge: none of these individuals understand what was needed to move into a role that they desired. They lacked both an understanding of what career opportunities existed for them to pursue and how they needed to grow to be ready for that next growth opportunity.

Despite how critical this information is for employees, most companies lack the tools, resources, and/or knowledge to build these connections for their colleagues.

This is the magic of an internal talent marketplace. By giving transparency into what it takes for employees to advance their careers, it helps them reshape the focus of their developmental conversations away from “How come I’m not getting promoted?” to “Here’s what I need to do to grow into my next opportunity.”

In this article I’ll take you through:

  • What Is A Talent Marketplace
  • The Benefits Of Talent Marketplaces
  • How To Build An Internal Talent Marketplace In Your Organization

Why Now?

According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report, professionals are stating that professional development is the single most important area for companies to invest to improve company culture.

Why And How To Build An Internal Talent Marketplace

Business and HR leaders agree—we’ve long known that meeting employee’s expectations associated with career development remains one of the primary drivers of engagement.

Yet, despite major investments to develop talent, a staggering 50% of workers said it’s easier to find a new job outside of their organization than within.

Employees are seeking new opportunities at dizzying rates, unemployment remains at historic lows, and professionals are demanding more support for their well-being and the overall employee experience.

Reskilling, upskilling, and cross-training employees must be a continued focal point as organizations modernize their talent capabilities, create more agile and resilient workforces, and drive business value.

So how do organizations create viable career development and talent mobility strategies?  The answer is simple: talent marketplaces.

So What Is A Talent Marketplace?

Simply put, a talent marketplace is a highly connected, intelligent, and transparent talent management system within an organization.

These HR tech solutions are designed to empower employees to pursue their career aspirations by connecting them to new growth opportunities based on their skill sets, interests, and the needs of the business. These new opportunities could be their next role, gig, stretch assignments, mentoring, etc.

With a talent marketplace, colleagues are empowered to own their development, while employers unleash an agile pipeline of ready-now talent with the right competencies and skills to deliver on business priorities and challenges.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical employee growth experience following Sally Employee as she uses her company’s talent marketplace to develop for her next growth opportunity.

Why And How To Build An Internal Talent Marketplace - Employee Example

How Can A Talent Marketplace Benefit Your Organization?

A talent marketplace puts your people back in the driver’s seat of their own development. It does this by providing significant transparency into:

  • Career pathways and the roles that exist within your organization’s career lattice
  • Employees’ personal strengths and skill gaps/development areas
  • How employees’ strengths and development areas match to growth opportunities around their organization (where they need to focus their development to be ready for a role they aspire to)
  • What resources and opportunities currently exist to help support their development as they prepare for their next role
  • What positions are open for them to apply into if they are ready now.

Beyond the employee engagement and retention wins that come from investing in employee development, this can provide significant other benefits.

Creates a culture of talent mobility

Internal talent mobility helps employees accelerate their career growth while building new, valuable capabilities that ultimately drive value to the organization.

Additionally, talent marketplaces can provide keen visibility into which roles will help them build the competencies and skills they need to be successful.

Builds a more agile (and resilient) workforce through a gig economy

Gigs (short-term work assignments) not only provide meaningful short-term stretch opportunities to help your employees develop new emerging skills but also give you a much more agile and resilient workforce by breaking down silos across your organization.

Stretch opportunities cross-skill your workforce, allowing you to in-source for talent and rapidly deploy your employees based on project needs. This can help you harness the fullest potential out of your workforce and dramatically reduce your need to rely on contract labor, all while developing your people.

Furthers Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts

A talent marketplace can play a huge role in advancing your DE&I efforts.  Enhanced transparency and universal access to development opportunities can level the playing field to allow all of your people to realize success.

How To Build An Internal Talent Marketplace In Your Organization?

Step 1 – Define Your Talent Northstar

Building a talent marketplace starts with your organizational needs. Ask yourself:

Talent Marketplace Platforms

Most talent marketplace platforms will offer similar functionalities: a slick UI, competency and skill mapping for your roles, a gig or stretch assignment portal, mentor opportunities, etc.

So how do you select a talent marketplace platform?

This comes down to step 1 from above: Define your Northstar. Organizations are going to have wildly divergent needs based on their size, scope, and complexity.

The larger and more complex your organization is, the greater your need will be for a highly automated, artificial intelligence-based HR tech solution to simplify both the administration of the platform and ensure you can provide the best experience for your colleagues.

Beyond the technical components, my best advice is to select a vendor who is co-invested in your solution.

The best vendors will provide you with significant access to their time, tools, and resources to ensure that you have all the support needed to make the most out of their solution. This includes access to their:

  • Technology team who owns their UI and ensures it continues to meet your needs
  • Industrial psychologists who specialize in mapping skills and competencies to your organization’s roles
  • Change management professionals to help drive colleague adoption of the solution
  • Client success partners who can coach you along the way and ensure you get all the support you need once you hit steady state

Where To Go From Here

There’s never a wrong time to invest in employee development but, in today’s chaotic labor market, the need has never been more urgent. Building your own talent marketplace can be the right solution to help engage and retain your workforce which, in turn, drives additional value to your organizational goals.

About Alex Link

Alex is a HR Director for a Fortune 4 organization with a passion for developing the leaders of tomorrow. He has a Masters of Science in Human Resources and Labor Relations and has extensive experience in HR, Leadership Development, Talent Management, Learning and Development, and more. When not focused on helping people realize their career aspirations, he enjoys playing guitar, reading sci-fi fantasy novels, relaxing with his wife, and playing with their two young children.

About People Managing People

Launched in 2019, People Managing People has grown into a leading publication and community space for HR and people leaders. Backed by over 20 years of leadership experience, the team at People Managing People is focused on delivering content that creates conversations in order to build a better world of work.


Subscribe to get fresh research and insights delivered to your inbox.