This article was first published on LinkedIn  September 28, 2021. 


The Bank of England has recently commented that a feature of the COVID growth rebound is a skills shortage with employers frustrated by the inability to find the talent they need for their businesses to recover and grow (Reuters, September 8, 2021). This refrain from the UK is familiar and often heard across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US. Globally, we are facing some of the most severe shortages of talent in recent memory.


New challenges are typically met with an increased appetite for novel solutions. One of these solutions is the Internal Talent Marketplace. The premise is “Why search externally, when maybe you already have the talent you need internally?” Talent marketplaces offer something for everyone:


  • Employees can browse for side projects to develop new skills, find new passions and expand networks
  • Managers can shop across the entire company for help on projects
  • Employees can splurge on a new role … without leaving the company
  • Organizations can “window shop” to see all the skills in their company and which projects require which skills


When organizations understand at the macro level what skills their workforce has, at the individual level who has which skills, and at the project level what skills are needed for success, they can move people to the work. Taking a skills lens leads to greater internal mobility than before; this level of understanding is also crucial for company’s upskilling and reskilling efforts. Not only does this help in the more efficient use of talent, but all of the above lead to organizations retaining more employees by offering better employee experiences and career opportunities.


An early adopter is Unilever, which has operated an internal talent marketplace since 2018. The company is seeing many benefits including productivity, engagement, career path enablement and skill development; to learn more read Inside Unilever’s program that allows employees to try out new jobs and gig working opportunities at the company. “Essential to overcoming the opaque relationship between jobs and skills is deconstruction. It’s like taking a flower apart to the atomic level,” says Ravin Jesuthasan, Global Transformation Services Leader at Mercer, in his article Want to future-proof your career? Prepare to reinvent yourself constantly. “The flower is pretty in the vase, but stripped down to its atomic makeup, you begin to understand why it’s pretty.”


By 2025, 50% of all employees will need reskilling to ensure their continued relevance, according to the World Economic Forum.


“By 2025”… that’s only a few years away. And, as with previous articles in this skills tech series, we are fortunate that digital technologies have emerged to make the application of leading edge talent management thinking a practical possibility for both employers and employees. Examples of such solutions are found in companies like Eightfold and Gloat:


  • Eightfold’s intelligence platform is powered by over 1.5 billion talent profiles and 1.4 million unique skills, and can predict if a person has the skills and potential to succeed in a job. Eightfold is known for delivering AI-driven, real-time insights about individuals’ potential, career trajectory, skills, skills adjacencies and more.
  • Gloat is a market-leading platform for connecting talent to work and discovering unknown skills. The power of its AI and size and scale of tis client implementations make Gloat’s solution unique.


But it’s not all about the technology. “Over the past 24 months, we have seen many organizations implement internal talent marketplaces. Those that have had most success have had the right mind set and enabling architecture. Without this, valuable skill sets can go unmined, work needs may continue to go unmet and any immediate benefits will be short lived,” says Kate Bravery, Mercer’s advisory solutions leader. “To be effective in the longer term, internal talent marketplaces need to be sustained through culture and the reinforcement of other people practices and processes, such as work design, compensation and employee development opportunities. In addition, simplicity and a compelling user experience are non-negotiable.”


The concept of the internal talent marketplace is still relatively new. Given the severe talent shortages around the world, the increasing comfort we see with the use of gig workers and greater demand for workplace flexibility from employees, I expect that Internal Talent Marketplaces will become an increasingly common feature of the talent management landscape. 

Ilya Bonic
Ilya Bonic

President, Career, and Head of Strategy at Mercer

Speak to a Mercer consultant