How to build a talent marketplace

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Online marketplaces are the future of hiring!

In 2011, New York Times reporter Ron Leibman decided to check the cost of accommodation on Airbnb in New York, and the results stumped him. Over 5 days, he saved $724 compared to staying at hotels that were at best on the same level as the apartments he rented through the platform.

Marketplaces like Airbnb, Amazon, Lyft and others radically changed not just the way business was done, but also how people thought. So having proved its viability in almost every industry, the e-commerce market model could not help but find its way into the talent market – one of the most prestigious and exciting spaces out there.

In an era when attracting talented workers is a more complex and competitive task for a company than attracting customers, talent marketplaces that provide a centralized ecosystem of interaction between professionals and customers are more relevant than ever.

Previously, hiring a suitable person for a company could take weeks or even months. But thanks to websites such as Upwork, the time required to find an employee has been reduced to an average of three days, and sometimes just a few hours.

So it is that today, the talent marketplace is becoming an ideal way for any company to find a suitable employee. The platform collects all the important information about the candidate (skills, experience, portfolio), and stores it in one place, making hiring staff as transparent and effective as can be.

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Another important factor positively influencing the rapid development of the talent marketplace is the opportunity to hire not only an individual employee but also a company that can provide a ready-made team of professionals for outsourcing projects. This approach significantly expands the target audience, covering a variety of business segments.

And from talents’ point of view, by letting users collaborate with companies from around the world, find interesting projects, and work at a convenient time, these platforms can help talented specialists find the professional development and earning opportunity they’ve been looking for. This guarantees a constant influx of users and steady growth in the talent market.

Below, we look in detail at the things you need to pay attention to when creating and promoting a talent marketplace, to get a successful product quickly off the ground.

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Think like a marketer

One of the main difficulties everyone faces when creating a marketplace is the chicken/egg situation of creating both supply and demand from scratch. A company is interested in a talent market because it helps them find great employees – but how to attract talented workers before you have employers on board?

The headline here is that you need to start with a bit of a splash – something to make a name for yourself on both sides of the talent marketplace. Key ingredients could include:

  • Offering registration bonuses for a limited number of early users
  • Ensuring attractive conditions for interaction with the platform for both the potential employee and the employing company (competitive service fees, opportunity for growth, etc.) This will attract both professional workers and developing talent.
  • Spreading the word through a mix of advertising, guerrilla marketing, and influencers
  • Getting out there at events like conferences, especially when it comes to the local market

Regardless of your advertising budget, one of the most important tasks for any marketplace is gaining trust. This is a pivotal moment in the work of every company, and any business that neglects it becomes vulnerable. At the same time, once a marketplace has passed this stage with dignity and built around itself a community of brand advocates (motivated by their positive user experiences), it becomes a viable product with potential for exponential growth.

To create trust and not only attract but also retain users, make sure you:

  • Ensure transparent market interactions between the employing company and the employee
  • Provide guarantees of transaction terms fulfillment for both parties – covering not only financial relations but also informational content (data confidentiality, copyright, etc.)
  • Foster every possible opportunity for developing talent
  • Never stop working – keep identifying and addressing the most important concerns for talented workers and clients/employers alike

Don’t forget about differentiation. As in any competitive environment, scale matters – but choosing a narrow focus and aiming to succeed in your niche can also be a route to success for your talent marketplace. A good comparison here is between Upwork and Toptal: the former works with freelancers of all levels, while the latter restricts access to premium talent.

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Audience segmentation

Alongside marketing tools, there’s another key to success in the e-commerce market: taking care of user experience, for both the company the employee.

A talent marketplace should be intuitive and simple. It’s important that the customer has the ability to filter users by skills – or create project criteria to act as an entry threshold, automatically screening out under-qualified candidates. The segmentation of projects by field, required skill-level, duration of working relationship, etc., will help the professional job seeker find work faster, and thus increase their loyalty toward the platform.

No less important are the profiles of the employer/customer and the employee. These profiles must provide complete information about the parties in a convenient format, making it easy for candidates to choose opportunities and for the company to pick a professional.

And of course – when creating and developing a talent marketplace, always analyze the existing players, applying their best practices to your new business.

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Conditions for success in the talent market

Despite the penetration of e-commerce markets into many areas of life, and the wide range of opportunities they provide, the talent marketplace is not suitable for every type of specialist. Some employees who are talented workers in the traditional sense of the word won’t be in the core target audience of such platforms (their work is strictly regulated by well-established processes, and they’re likely to remain subject to a linear management structure). And a talent marketplace won’t work for top executives, for whom mediation is impossible.

The professional areas most fertile for interaction between talented employees and entrepreneurs via a talent market include programming, design, SEO, marketing, photography, and business consulting services. These areas are well-suited to freelance relationships and offer good opportunities for both parties.

The talent marketplace is ideal for finding employees for large or actively developing talent-oriented companies, startups that don’t have sufficient resources or need for traditional staffing, or any business that needs one-time or periodic high-level work which doesn’t necessitate hiring an employee.

But remember – in order to understand which talented workers and trends are in demand, a deep analysis of existing platforms is a must. Time and money spent on this research is an essential investment because the presence of valuable employees on your site is the only way to guarantee that business representatives will take an interest in it.

Your talent market: real-life applications

Just as Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit and other online platforms have influenced their respective industries, so the talent marketplace is changing the hiring process – opening up both tremendous opportunities for the talented employee and smart new avenues for any company looking for great professionals.

Our experience and analysis show a number of underlying factors in the success of talent search platforms:

  • The need for talented workers is inexhaustible and growing exponentially
  • Human resources are rising in value – guaranteeing further demand
  • Interest in working through a talent marketplace is generated on both employee and employer sides by guarantees offered that all the conditions of the transaction will be fulfilled (this really speaks of high prospects for the talent market)
  • Users of these platforms are both private individuals and companies operating in various niches
  • With the right approach, the point of profitability and permanent income growth is reached relatively quickly

Finally, when it comes to income streams, a talent marketplace draws from several sources.

First, the platform’s commission on successful transactions is typically charged to both customer and contractor (this is the standard monetization model in the talent search market). Then, further revenue is generated through the sale of additional features, like ‘pro’ accounts with advanced functionality that can open up new work opportunities for developing talent, or subscriptions for talent-seeking clients providing them with access to the best candidates and a full suite of product features.

And so you have it: the talent marketplace is one of the most promising and attractive ideas out there right now for creating your own business.

 

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