At one time, a person’s job title not only defined their role in life but could also be their name and identity. In medieval Europe, if your name was Fletcher, it meant you were a skilled arrow maker for the army. If you were a Smith, you crafted horseshoes, swords, armor, and other metal objects. And if you were a Cooper, you earned your keep making wooden barrels.
Times have changed. Job titles no longer define your life role. And the importance of job titles is waning as more firms embrace fluid job assignments based on competencies.
Some firms are redefining their organizational charts. Firms want faster, more flexible ways of deploying workers to respond to business threats, new opportunities, and industry changes. Rigid job hierarchies can get in the way.
Business approaches to staffing are also changing. Some firms may need to cut costs and don’t want to hire new people. Others may need to redeploy or hire skilled staff at short notice to deal with natural disasters, pandemics, or other crises.
Some organizations may need to create a short-term expert team to solve a pressing business problem or innovate a service. Other firms may want to recruit a promising individual for a role that’s so new or cross-disciplinary, the job specs are still evolving. Many organizations face talent shortages and need more innovative recruitment tools and strategies.
For these and other situations, talent marketplaces can provide a solution.
What is a talent marketplace?
A talent marketplace is a technology-enabled platform that connects employees with career opportunities within their organization. It lets organizations engage, develop and retain their employees more meaningfully—because employees now have more say in choosing their preferred career path and work projects.
The talent marketplace idea involves creating an internal gig system for a firm's special projects, jobs, or mentorships. It’s based on people’s skills, competencies, certifications, and personal career interests and aspirations aligned with company needs.
Managers and employees can use the system to help decide what’s best for each.
A talent marketplace can be a conduit for
- internal job searching,
- exploring new career directions,
- managing gig work,
- recruiting internal candidates, and
- enabling relevant learning for new roles through integration with an LMS.
What’s your job structure?
Job structure, also called job architecture, refers to an organization's infrastructure or hierarchy of jobs. A Deloitte report notes job structure includes job levels, job titles, grades, career paths, the criteria for career movement, and equitable compensation programs based on job value. It’s the basis for pay program design.
Job structure includes workforce planning, learning and development, and succession planning.
Steps towards a talent marketplace
How do you adjust your job structure to be ready to use a talent marketplace? Here are some steps to consider.
1. Analyze your job structure to see if it’s outdated or misaligned
Are you planning to update or implement new HR tech—such as AI-enabled talent marketplace software? Then you need good data related to employees, jobs, levels, and hierarchies. Poor data, such as many job titles for the same work, leads to inaccurate HR reporting.
Also, unclear job progression can affect recruiting, training, and performance management.
If you need to revise or redesign your job structure, that’s its own project. It requires a team including HR people, job subject matter experts, and business leaders. It could take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the scope of change you want and the number of consultations you need.
2. Harmonize job levels, titles, and descriptions
An excellent job structure is consistent with job levels, job descriptions, and pay grades across the organization. It will support mobility and career growth. It should also result in better organization of the work.
Consistent job descriptions, clear job types, and a commitment to talent development help build a supportive business culture, which prepares the way for a talent marketplace.
3. Define all skills and competencies
HRIS systems have gaps. For recording data like identity and payroll information, employee profiles don’t capture the full range of people’s talents, learning goals, skills, competencies, and career ambitions.
But if you capture that data, you can put it in an AI-enabled database at the core of any talent marketplace.
Building a good skills database involves defining every skill and competency you might need. Then record this data in a database that is easy to update.
4. Map skills and fractionalize work
- Map internal and external skills data.
- Build, validate, and verify skills, including skills adjacency.
- Re-architect and fractionalize work. That means reviewing how you define work and tasks and then breaking down each job into smaller subsets of skills or responsibilities to enable more efficiency.
- You can build your own talent marketplace. Workforce expert Josh Bersin notes this is what Allstate and Vertex did. Start by making a solid internal skills data set. You’ll need a skills taxonomy to map out all your skills to jobs or tasks.
- Alternatively, select a talent marketplace vendor who will work with you to identify and categorize all your skills, competencies, and talent metrics. Have them install the necessary AI-enabled software, tools, and solutions. For example, top platforms like Gloat or Fuel50 will provide an AI matching engine, a skills taxonomy, and analytics out of the box, says Bersin.
5. Build your talent marketplace to suit you
Do you want to use the platform to recruit internally and externally? Is your focus on in-house learning to upskill staff? Do you need to motivate existing staff to stay on? Would you like to provide industry-relevant volunteer and mentorship opportunities?
Your business needs and goals should inform your strategy and tactics when designing a talent marketplace. There’s no single approach to suit all organizations. It’s often a process of continuous customization to suit your own recruitment, L&D, and other needs.
So, plan for the marketplace rollout over an extended period. Improve it continually, based on feedback.
6. Adapt your HR system to deal with gig work
How will a talent marketplace affect pay grades, benefits, promotions, and performance appraisals concerning your existing job structure? If a worker takes up a six-month project assignment, for instance, who will assess them? And will their compensation vary if they work at a different level of responsibility or expertise during the temporary assignment?
Will you have to rethink your employment contracts with a talent marketplace?
Before introducing a talent marketplace platform, you must ensure your HR system can handle all the issues. Define the HR policies and processes that enable talent and career mobility and align them to your job structure.
7. Appoint a change leader
A talent marketplace helps people find new positions and mentors without going through their boss. Skilled employees can “jump ship” from one department or project to another to develop themselves.
But that’s a significant mind shift. Managerial control of workers must give way to a culture of mutual enablement.
Many firms aren’t there yet. Managers often prefer to hoard their best people. And workers might worry about upsetting their bosses by using the talent marketplace to find new roles.
That’s why it’s crucial to appoint persuasive change champions.
This could be one or more of your managers. They should alleviate concerns and show the benefits of using the new platform. They should be part of your talent marketplace rollout team, including a project manager and an IT leader.
Get talent acquisition on board as a partner. Their access to open roles and external talent is often essential to the platform’s success.
Are you ready? Check your attitudes
Are your people willing to work this way? Managers must respect people’s career desires and help them develop themselves in ways that benefit the company.
This includes welcoming “boomerang employees” who leave the department or firm for professional advancement and reapply when new opportunities arise. It also includes accepting job applicants from unconventional career backgrounds once they have the right skills and competencies.
Your job title won’t matter as much as what competencies you can bring to the table.
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