Why online talent platforms are not just a recruitment opportunity

By guest writer – HR Tech Expert Barry Flack

Oh talent platforms, we’ve been expecting you. Is the latest technology-enabled wave seeking to either radically alter the way we do business or just repackaging the same unchanging world of source, assess and select in the recruitment factory settings? Personally I believe we could be on the cusp of something that, through technology, could evolve rapidly and help provide an opportunity in meeting some of the fundamental supply and demand conundrums across our global workplace – and that is a problem that shouldn’t just be confined to the narrow confines of the recruitment world.

To recap, from a fairly manual base, many years ago modest technology automation brought us wave 1 and the arrival of the online job board, two-fingers and all to the mainstream print media, capturing jobseekers in various moments of online distress, giving up their structured data as the admission price for entering an online marketplace where the associated recruiter behaviour and bias remained wedded to a poor candidate experience facilitated via an awful ATS.

The next wave wasn’t far away with the arrival of the aggregators (e.g Indeed) on the one hand and the realisation that the sourcing world was divided into active (i.e talentless, job-hopping desperados who needed to be approached with caution) and passive (i.e beautiful wispy unicorn types who were so rare, talented and precious that catching sight of one would leave the recruiter giddy with glee) candidates. From its high point, recruiters went some way to destroying the most famous professional network LinkedIn, which currently lies temporarily buried under a mountain of middle-class knowledge worker resentment or because it just got a bit more like Facebook, interestingly just as that particular populist platform entered left-field to utilise its enormous reach and capabilities.

And on that note, as therapists the world over help us deal with a world run by Trump, May, Farage and Putin it’s easy to forget what a momentous year it’s been in the HR Tech space. Deal activity has reached record levels in 2016, with over 100 deals in each of the last 3 quarters. Year-to-date, there has been $1.96B invested across 350 deals in HR tech companies as of 10/27/16.

Most spend has clearly been in RecTech but I’d hope the progressives amongst our wider people profession can understand that the evolving online marketplace is something that should this time fuel a wider debate on meeting the challenges of the future of work. If you are unfamiliar then check out early trailblazing platforms such as Hired (Tech), JobandTalent and JobToday (blue collar), Upwork and TalMix (consultant) and many more arriving, focussed on providing sometimes curated and sometimes available talent matching to a demand profile that stretches from the traditional career role to the uber-style marketplace where a transactional service of matched opportunities exist for those flooding the portfolio / gig employment world, whether they wanted to or not. What stands out for me at this point is:

  • Think of the size of the problem it’s going after. According to a recent McKinsey report 30 to 45 per cent of the working-age population globally is unemployed, inactive in the workforce, or working only part time. In Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, this adds up to 850 million people.
  • As online talent platforms grow in scale, they will become faster and more effective clearinghouses that can inject new momentum and transparency into job markets while drawing in new participants. With matching capabilities becoming more sophisticated (think soon with added frictionless social assessment) we could reduce the duration of unemployment and ‘temps’ could gain additional hours through freelance platforms. For the big ticket problem relating to workplace disengagement, think of what better matching could do to that cultural equation.
  • Data and insight from these platforms could provide us with the transparency of the demand for skills and that has a massive impact for our young generation making better educational choices and also assist those in work with insight to remain relevant as more jobs become automated and a hollowing-out becomes the norm as a result.
    So to capture the benefits, the impact beyond the recruitment world is huge:
  1. We need more relevant legislation to govern our new future of work and corporate practices to be redefined (as demonstrated by the Uber cases in Europe);
  2. Individual mind-sets will have to change along with corporate cultures:
  3. We’ll need to determine what fairness and privacy mean in our new society (Law / ER);
  4. More appropriate reward and benefit solutions;
  5. Learning and development delivering at a point of need, stretching from entry to those in a world of ‘work’ driven by insight for the demand in changing skills and occupations.

The price for this collaboration of the broad, progressive HR church and beyond is the development of a thoughtful, people and technology-enabled approach to try and create a labour market that finally works in the most uncertain of times.

Until next time. Remember that Talent platforms are not just for recruitment.

About the author

Barry Flack helps organisations & HR Technology vendors be relevant to their people or market with practical solutions and advice that allow them to adapt in today’s changing world of work. An independent, award-winning Global HR & Talent professional with more than 20 years multi-industry leadership experience, Barry lectures, writes and presents as well as consults. Contact him for further details.