Why An Internal Talent Marketplace Is The Next Big Thing For Professional Services Firms


The global pandemic sent businesses into a tailspin, and professional services firms were no exception. Firms had to learn how to manage remote teams while coping with a talent shortage.

The way forward meant figuring out how to best utilize every talent member — even if it meant moving some of them around the firm. A study by the Josh Bersin Academy found that companies that quickly hired and redeployed talent during the pandemic were 4.4 times more likely to either meet or surpass their financial goals.

But for many businesses, the potential of their existing workforce remained untapped. The same study found that only 1 in 20 HR and business professionals believe their organization excelled in redeploying talent to different roles during the crisis. As firms recognize the need for a new approach to talent management, many of them are turning to an internal talent marketplace.

What is an internal talent marketplace?

An internal talent marketplace is an HR technology that helps organizations connect internal candidates to advancement opportunities. Within the platform, managers or HR professionals can post open jobs, projects, assignments, and other opportunities. Employees can then use the system to promote their skills and aspirations and uncover growth work.

This digital marketplace focuses on matching workers to skills and capabilities rather than job titles or roles. It does away with the traditional career pyramid, allowing employees to move across the organization from job to job. This helps firms engage their talent, utilize them effectively, and fill newly-important positions.

Talent marketplace technology has been slowly gaining traction, but since the pandemic, it’s become a necessity. Internal mobility is up by almost 20%, and moving people into the right roles is more vital than ever.

The key components of an internal talent marketplace

Depending on a firm’s needs and goals, a talent marketplace can perform different functions. Here are some important features.

  • Talent and skills visibility. With a rich database of employee profiles, a talent marketplace houses critical insights like associates’ experience, skills, career aspirations, and development areas.
  • Matching people to projects and internal gigs. At its core, a talent marketplace is an internal gig economy — a way of matching current employees to open positions. These positions might be client projects or internal opportunities.
  • Tracking associate performance and skill progression. A talent marketplace can be used to track associates’ skill progression and to help them create personal development plans. The system also facilitates goal management, as firms can match associate goals to business initiatives and then monitor their progress through real-time feedback and reviews.
  • Matching people to mentorship and coaching opportunities. Firms can use an internal marketplace to develop their talent by connecting them to learning opportunities that stretch them beyond their current skills. These include mentorship and coaching experiences.
  • Monitoring diversity, equity, and inclusion. With a talent marketplace, firms can monitor the projects and opportunities being assigned to diverse professionals and ensure an equitable distribution of work. Since managers are granted access to a wider pool of candidates outside their regular circles, underrepresented employees are matched to more projects.

What are the benefits of an internal talent marketplace for professional services firms?

A talent marketplace helps firms transform the way they utilize talent, creating a workforce that is dynamic, agile, and adaptive in the face of change. Here’s how.

Improve productivity and utilization

A talent marketplace gathers critical data on the skills and capabilities of associates. At the same time, it houses details of the gigs and positions that need filling. This key information helps professional services firms make the best possible use of their talent.

Professionals are matched to projects that fit their unique experiences and interests, leading to better talent mobility and utilization. This approach enables cross-functional collaboration, with associates sharing their skills outside of their department and joining together to meet business objectives. The workforce becomes agile and fluid, with talent members no longer confined to one area but tasked where they’re most useful, increasing productivity.

Gain better talent visibility

A digital marketplace provides visibility into every talent member’s skills and experiences, which helps illuminate those who might have otherwise been overlooked.

This vital data allows leaders to visualize the capabilities and potential of their workforce — at a granular level — and fill open needs. Within the marketplace, firms can quickly identify skill gaps and recognize when there’s someone within the team who can be upskilled to fill those gaps.

Develop your talent

A talent marketplace uncovers advancement opportunities that can help associates further their career goals. It also helps associates track their progress with personal development plans. And more than that, a flexible workforce offers professionals the chance to reinvent themselves.

A marketplace of internal gigs prevents workers from getting pigeonholed or stuck in their current roles. Oftentimes, associates who do well at a certain type of project are continually assigned similar work, leading to stagnancy. Findings from the University of Phoenix’s Annual Career Optimism Index 2022 revealed that nearly half of workers want to develop their skills but don’t know how. A digital marketplace uncovers current opportunities for hands-on learning, so associates can upskill, reskill, and develop new areas of expertise.

On a broader level, a gig economy creates workers who are knowledgeable in multiple areas of the firm and who have a wider perspective of the industry. It also promotes a high-performance culture, where professionals continually build on their experiences and improve with every assignment.

Attract and retain talent

An internal gig economy sets firms apart in recruitment. According to Pew Research, 63% of workers say a lack of advancement opportunities was a reason they left their jobs in 2021. This suggests that learning experiences are key to retaining associates but also critical for attracting new ones.

Visibility into an ongoing marketplace of open projects helps associates envision their future with the firm, improving retention. Associates can see that there’s flexibility at the firm and pathways to continue their careers. This provides talent members with a sense of purpose and challenge — something workers are increasingly looking for after the pandemic.

The mass exodus of workers during the Great Resignation suggests that people are reevaluating their careers after the COVID-19 crisis and that firms need to step up to offer their talent meaningful growth. Redeploying associates into new roles is far cheaper than hiring out and much better for business, too. A massive study co-authored by researchers from Cornell University and the University of Minnesota found that internal hires consistently perform better than external ones and stay longer with the company. A talent marketplace can offer associates the excitement and movement they crave, so they’re not tempted to jump ship for a career change.

Improve your capacity planning and workforce planning

Marketplaces collect detailed data on the tasks that are open for candidates, including the knowledge and skills that it takes for the work to be well-executed. These platforms also include a blueprint of all the skills within the organization. As professionals update their skills and aspirations, firms get a clearer picture of what their workforce has to offer. The longer the system is in place, the more skills data is collected.

This wealth of information can be used for strategic and effective workforce planning. By comparing available skills to available gigs, managers gain insight into the flow of work at their firm and where there might be mismatches in supply and demand. These insights can be used to manage resources effectively while fulfilling both urgent and long-term needs.

Three things to consider before adopting an internal talent marketplace

Adopting a talent marketplace is one of the most powerful transformations you can make for your firm. It’s a complete culture shift and one that requires thoughtful planning. Here are three things to consider before getting started.

1. Is your firm a good fit for an internal gig economy?

To support a talent marketplace, your firm needs to be adaptable and well-prepared for internal mobility. For the most part, professional services firms are prime candidates. This is because workflows are already flexible, with talent members working on multiple projects for different people.

Additionally, your firm shouldn’t be siloed or hierarchical. Priorities will shift to job sharing and moving in response to business needs rather than climbing career ladders. This means there’s no room for talent hoarding — managers must be willing to give up control of their team. As you consider these issues, take time to solidify your firm’s purpose for adopting an internal marketplace and see how this aligns with current organizational goals.

2. Are senior leadership on board?

For a talent marketplace to reach its full potential, the entire staff needs to be using the platform. This means you need a resounding “go ahead” from senior leadership to ensure everyone gets on the bandwagon. Leaders need to stand behind the initiative and help communicate the benefits, vision, and value of an internal marketplace to all managers. Leading by example and communicating regularly about the platform will encourage team members to participate.

3. Do you have the data and technology to support a talent marketplace?

Matching the right people to the right work takes a ton of insights, like complete data on employee profiles, skills, career aspirations, and developmental needs.

You’ll need quick and responsive technology that can keep up with the collection of all this data. You’ll also need a way to leverage this data toward effective resource allocation.

The right talent management platform will include reports on skills tracking, availability tracking, work allocation, performance and real-time feedback, associate career progression, and DE&I. All of this will help you transform your company culture and build a resilient workforce.

Build a future-ready workforce with vi

Looking for the right system to support an internal talent marketplace at your firm? Let us help you. With vi’s Resource Allocation platform, you’ll gain full visibility of your people’s skills, availability, utilization, performance, and interests so you can put your existing talent to the best use by matching them to the right projects, career development gigs, and mentorship opportunities. Get in touch with us to learn how you can start embracing internal mobility at your firm, today.