What does an internal talent marketplace look like in the real world?

What does an internal marketplace look like in the real world
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Recruiters’ workloads have increased by 45% from 2021 to 2022[1] – likely due to the Great Resignation.

The struggle to recruit new employees and retain existing ones can be frustrating and exhausting.

Your business needs a steady flow of talent to fill crucial roles and bridge critical skill gaps. You must also properly engage current employees to satisfy them and help them reach their full potential.

Maybe you can solve both issues at once?

An internal talent marketplace enables an organization to fill positions with current employees. This has the dual effect of utilizing talent right under your nose and engaging existing workers with new opportunities.

Talent mobility leads to lower hiring costs, higher employee satisfaction, and achieving your workforce’s full potential. And it can also help you discover future leaders from within your organization.

This article presents seven best practices for creating an internal talent marketplace, as well as how it works and its benefits.

What is an internal talent marketplace?

An internal talent marketplace is HR software where employees can input their skills and receive information on potential new roles they may be suited to. 

It’s a way for companies to connect hiring managers to pre-existing employees, bridge talent gaps, and fill crucial positions.

We know what you’re thinking – no, internal recruiting is not a brand-new process. An internal talent marketplace aims to streamline the internal talent acquisition system to make it more efficient, effective, and data-driven.

How does the typical internal talent marketplace work?

We now understand an internal marketplace conceptually, but what does it look like in practice?

Can employees access it? What can they do with it?

Employees can input skills, interests, and career ambitions into an internal marketplace to get recommendations on the different directions their careers can go.

Career pathing is a common function of most internal talent marketplaces that shows an employee a few potential career directions and provides advice on how to get there.

This advice can include identifying skill gaps, presenting learning and development opportunities, and more.

What do frontline managers use it for?

Frontline managers benefit from the quick identification of ideal candidates for crucial roles.

They can consider applications using their own expertise without involving a third party and complicating the process.

Since frontline managers are often accountable for their workers’ success and career progression, they can also use an internal talent marketplace to find new and better opportunities for employees.

What does HR use it for?

The benefits are nearly endless for HR.

Here are a few ways HR uses an internal talent marketplace:

A few ways HR uses an internal marketplace
  1. Succession planning and workforce planning

  2. Assessing which skills are needed for specific roles

  3. Rethinking and rewriting job descriptions and ads

  4. Assisting staff with career progression by helping them create and update their profiles

  5. Helping managers spot opportunities to share on the marketplace

Since we usually classify an internal marketplace as “HR software,” it makes sense that HR professionals see an abundance of benefits in using them.

Is it a software system? Or is it just internal recognition?

It can mean both – it’s a business practice and an AI-based system.

Let’s break down the two meanings of internal talent marketplace:

Internal marketplace meaning


As a business practice

A process focused on developing talent, promoting new skills, and filling important roles internally

As software

A program that captures employee and position data and matches skills to opportunity

The two meanings are most often used in tandem. If you’re using the software, it means your organization has that business practice.

Why should you invest time in developing an internal talent marketplace?

Why should you invest time in developing an internal talent marketplace
  • Lower hiring costs

  • Higher employee satisfaction

  • Better employee retention

  • Reduced hiring bias

  • More agile workforce

  • Stronger focus on talent development and gap identification

  • Achieve your workforce’s full potential

An internal talent marketplace can help employees achieve their career goals, boost company retention, and assist HR in focusing talent allocation.

These systems aim to solve problems and satisfy the needs of every party involved.

Let’s take a look at the key benefits of using an internal marketplace:

  • Lower hiring costs – A shorter, internal hiring process means less money spent on hiring, onboarding, and training. Additionally, there are long-term savings from reduced turnover.

  • Higher employee satisfaction – Career development leads to better engagement and purpose. A 2022 study showed that learning and growth opportunities were the number 1 factor employees tied to happiness and an exceptional work environment. 

Top 10 drivers of work culture
  • Better employee retention. If an employee doesn’t see a promising future with you, they’ll find one elsewhere. This is unfortunate, as most employees would much rather develop where they are than seek new opportunities. However, companies with excellent internal mobility programs retain employees for nearly twice as long.

  • Reduced hiring bias. Internal marketplaces use software to assess skills and find the best fit. They don’t rely on opinions and assumptions. This not only boosts a company’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives but also helps you hire the best candidate for the role when bias may have been an obstacle.

  • More agile workforce. An internal marketplace allows employees to shift from role to role in an agile and ongoing way. This fast-paced, flexible method gives endless opportunities to employees and employers and is essential in the modern age.

  • Stronger focus on talent development and gap identification. The world moves fast, and 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. Learning these skills internally is the most efficient and effective method of reskilling.

  • Achieve your workforce’s full potential. Utilize employee skills from varying departments and enable cross-collaboration. This is great for project-based hiring because you can better understand the skills required for a role and match talent to short-term work. It also makes the employee experience more fulfilling.

Although internal talent marketplaces are new, the benefits are already being experienced by companies today.

One such organization is Seagate, a data storage and management solution company that adopted an internal talent marketplace during the pandemic.

quote by Divkiran Katuria of Seagate about their internal talent marketplace

Seagate needed a quick, solid solution to shift its workforce away from the positions that weren’t operating at full capacity towards new emerging growth areas.

What were the results?

Results after adopting an internal talent marketplace
  • $1.4m in savings within the first four months of launching

  • 35,000 hours saved during the first four months of usage

  • 58% increase in the participation and assignment of women

  • 88% of employees registered in the system within 45 days of launch

Companies like Seagate see outstanding, real-life results by harnessing internal marketplace technology.

If you’re interested in doing the same thing, let’s move on to the next section.

7 best practices for building an internal talent marketplace

Let’s take a look at how your organization can adopt an internal talent marketplace successfully.

After assessing a few best practices, you’ll find your company can easily weave an internal marketplace into its talent management strategies and thrive as a result.

Here’s a quick summary of the best practices:

Best practice


1. Analyze your roles and identify key skills

Perform a skills-gap analysis to identify where your company has skills gaps and surpluses

2. Reduce bias by assessing skills blindly

Assess skills objectively to reduce bias based on qualification and education

3. Leverage talent marketplace software

Streamline the internal marketplace process by using appropriate software

4. Shift your company’s mindset

Gradually change your company culture to adapt and thrive with an internal talent marketplace

5. Tailor your strategy to the employee

Target your employees’ specific desires to engage and motivate them

6. Give constructive feedback to improve future hires

Inform candidates of missing skills and abilities to improve their internal job change process

7. Stop looking for the perfect fit

Look for a candidate who meets 80% of your requirements instead of 100%

Now let’s talk about each of these in more depth.

1. Analyze your roles and identify key skills

You first need to identify what plays a major part in a position’s success to know which roles would suit your employees.

Examine the tasks required – what skills are needed to complete them?

Additionally, it’s important to identify gaps and surpluses in your internal talent pool, so you can appropriately match existing talent with new roles.

Both of these goals can be achieved by running a skills-gap analysis, which is a method to determine what skills and knowledge a workforce lacks and what skills and knowledge it already possesses.

Internal skills testing is a great way to start assessing your company’s skills gaps so you can start matching roles to people.

It’s also a great way to analyze a role for necessary skills. If you currently have a high performer in a similar role, you can test them to see what skills they excel in and what makes them effective in the position.

Experts design these tests to give you objective, concise information so you can make an informed decision about an individual’s current skill set and the skills needed to get the job done.

2. Reduce bias by assessing skills blindly

Hiring managers are increasingly moving away from reliance on resumes, realizing that they’re holding us back from hiring the ideal candidate.

An internal talent marketplace runs on skills, not education or formal qualifications. These systems are designed to match ideal skill sets with positions to provide new internal opportunities.

Now, we do realize that anyone could say they have stellar communication – how do we prove it?

Let’s use an example.

A recruiter may unconsciously assume that a sales rep doesn’t have the skills to be a human resources manager due to a lack of formal qualifications. But with unbiased online skills tests, a candidate can test their raw talent objectively.

Here are a few skills tests that apply to both sales reps and HR managers:

Assessing these skills blindly and using a data-driven system to match the ideal candidate to a role reduces or eliminates bias from your hiring process.

Know your candidates by their skills, not their lifestyle, education, work experience, or race.

An unlikely employee may excel in a role if given a chance.

3. Leverage talent marketplace software

Talent marketplace software is a fast, efficient solution for finding and utilizing internal talent.

It offers a wide range of features:

  1. Enabling employees to promote their skills, interests, and aspirations

  2. Providing learning and employee development opportunities

  3. Recommending relevant positions and projects

  4. Managing the search, recruiting, and onboarding of internal talent

Matching people with opportunities is much harder than it sounds. The talent can be right there, but even an extremely detail-oriented hiring manager could miss it.

HR technology, like a talent marketplace platform, streamlines this process. It’s akin to having your company’s personal LinkedIn – a system filled with skilled candidates, learning opportunities, and crucial roles to fill.

4. Shift your company’s mindset

One of the biggest barriers to adopting an internal talent marketplace is culture. 

Many managers and HR professionals have traditional beliefs about internal hiring and skills-based hiring – they may not even realize they have these biases.

Such ideas can include a rigid belief in the upward career ladder, as opposed to the varied career “jungle gym” an internal talent marketplace provides.

They may also have trouble believing someone without job experience can excel in a role. 

Shifting this mindset and culture is essential to successfully adopting internal talent marketplace processes.

How do we do it?

Our biggest tip: Don’t assume you need to shift your entire hiring strategy to an internal marketplace overnight.

These things take time, so start small with a few roles and gradually incorporate more positions, training opportunities, and mentoring/mentorship opportunities.

Karen Powell, chief talent and learning officer at IQVIA, worked hard to incorporate an internal talent marketplace into her company’s culture.

Her advice is to think of the process as a dimmer dial rather than a light switch. The change is gradual, but we’ll get there with time.

You can help speed up the process by making implementation more accessible and fun. Start with promotional videos and knowledge repositories that educate your staff on the marketplace and how to use it.

It’s important to remember that people are all at different stages of readiness, and some may take more time to come around.

5. Tailor your strategy to the employee

An internal talent marketplace is designed around the welfare and growth of a company’s employees.

This article has mostly explored the ability to offer new jobs and career paths to your workers. But what if a new position isn’t what some of them want?

The idea is to target exactly what each individual wants in their career.

Let’s say an employee is disengaged and unsatisfied, but they want to try to remain in their position or at least within the company.

Here are a few ways the internal marketplace can help engage an employee without changing their role:

  1. Providing recommendations on future projects and activities

  2. Offering learning and development opportunities to help them build up their skills

  3. Connecting them to mentoring opportunities

Mentoring and coaching opportunities are some of the best options to motivate and engage talented employees.

Having the chance to share their talent with junior teammates provides them with new goals and challenges, as well as boosting collaboration and team culture.

6. Give constructive feedback to improve future hires

Applicants don’t always get the career move they were hoping for, and this can negatively impact the employee engagement and satisfaction you’re aiming for.

A positive way to mitigate this is by providing the worker with constructive feedback on the skills and abilities they were lacking.

Many talent marketplace software offer automatic feedback, in which the system informs the employee which skills they need to get the upskilling or role they desire.

Suggesting which skills the candidate needs and how to obtain them (through classes, courses, or projects) can turn a disappointing outcome into an opportunity for career growth.

7. Stop looking for the perfect fit

You may end up disappointed if you go into an internal marketplace hiring strategy expecting an employee that checks every box for their desired role.

Patricia Frost, the chief executive officer of Seagate, says that her company’s biggest behavioral change while adopting an internal talent marketplace was to stop looking for the perfect solution.

Instead, they opted for a 75-80% fit, then filled in the gaps with upskilling.

This method not only helps a company find a candidate faster and more efficiently, but it also encourages employees to take a leap when they might not otherwise have done so. 

Many workers are intimidated by strict requirements, so they opt not to try in the first place.

In the end, has any recruiter ever found a candidate that fulfills every requirement anyway?

Connect talent to roles with an internal talent marketplace

An internal talent marketplace is an excellent system for discovering unknown talent, filling roles faster, engaging employees, and improving retention.

It will take some time to shift away from a traditional mindset of the linear career ladder towards a branching career tree – a process that enables employees to be more flexible, climbing between opportunities. But it is the future of work, and it is worth it.

Adopting an internal talent marketplace can be streamlined and simplified by using key software, such as marketplace software and online skills testing.

That way, you can assess and prove an employee’s skills free from unconscious bias.

To learn about another useful tool for building your internal marketplace, read our article on making a transferable skills checklist.


  1. “How to attract top talent in a tight market”. (2022, May 19). PageUp. Retrieved October 13, 2022. https://www.pageuppeople.com/resource/attracting-top-talent-in-todays-market

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