The Incredible Shrinking Talent Market. Or is it? (Spoiler alert: It’s not exactly.)

By Joe Fernandez | 14 January 2022

Your business is moving at light speed, and you need experienced talent with specific knowledge and skills to fuel growth and solve critical problems. You look out at the open talent market, and it feels tighter and more expensive than ever. Where did everyone go? Gone are the days where you post a job and dozens of experienced candidates bang down your doors. For every experienced candidate today, it seems there are dozens of companies banging down their doors. You walk through the hallways and into the cafeteria, and those places are nearly empty, too. Did the market for experienced talent really shrink due to The Great Resignation? Is your only choice to outbid and overpay? Not exactly.

The reality is that the expertise you need still exists in the market but in different forms, and it is more widely distributed thanks to remote work. In fact, expertise and knowledge can be more accessible today, not less.

Talent access now comes in different forms. If you’re flexible, you will find the expertise you need faster and without breaking your payscale or budget.

What does the talent market look like today?

  1. The Free Agent or Side-Hustler (Open to Consultations)

Executives, scientists, doctors, technologists, specialists…semi-retired or available for consultations. This pool is rich with purple unicorns, passion players, self-proclaimed “nerds”, and deep vaults of knowledge. A recent Bank of America survey found that more than a third of people have picked up a side hustle since the beginning of the pandemic. Back in 2017, long before the pandemic, ERE was already touting Baby Boomers as Your Secret Weapon in the War for Talent, thanks to the emerging gig economy of skilled workers.

  1. The Full-Time Entrepreneur (Open to Contract Work)

Independent consultants seeking steady contract work. These are the enterprising rockstars, often willing to take on the same load or greater than an FTE but with more focus, specialization, and intention. And with less overhead costs to you.

  1. The Passive Candidate (Open to New Career Opportunities)

Often the active and indispensable high performers, open to new challenges but too focused on executing in their current role to be actively looking. They may be your next best hire, but you must find, engage, and inspire them first.

  1. The Job-Switcher (Actively Seeking)

Plug-n-play. Actively seeking their next team, eager to contribute and to be reinvigorated. Ready to jump in tomorrow for the right opportunity and challenges. 

Access to expertise must be democratized and span all forms. As rideshare platforms tap into empty seats in cars to unlock greater mobility, technology can also enable companies to tap into trapped knowledge everywhere to unlock greater innovation and growth. The benefit is twofold; companies get smarter faster, and knowledge workers, each an expert in their domains, benefit financially and most importantly, through greater meaning and purpose. 

 The Graph above is from 2021 Bank of America Survey

Before you look externally, the knowledge and skills your team needs are probably under your nose (or within your organization)

Did you know that Kyra in the Chicago office previously helped build the legacy system that your team is actively bidding to replace? Or that Bill in the LA office was once a buyer for your services and has shopped your competition? Or that Michelle led the food safety project in Ukraine, a project nearly identical to the one that you’re struggling to resource? 

Like icebergs, companies have vast reserves of untapped knowledge hidden below the surface. Employees are known only by their team, for the specific role they were hired for, and not for the full set of experience and skills they may possess. Social profiles are sparse and internal directories are only useful when you already know who you’re looking for. This underutilization of talent creates huge costs in productivity, recruiting, and missed opportunities. Once solved, companies can grow and innovate faster, fully realizing the value of their most coveted asset – their people.

A blended talent model can be difficult to harness and manage. And one-off, transactional conversations cannot replicate the collaborative creativity that comes through relationships and trust.

A one-off conversation may give insight into critical questions and help solve acute challenges. But it’s the relationship over time that creates exponential value. Innovation, growth, and successful execution will always be the byproduct of great collaboration. 

At OnFrontiers, we’re reimagining a world where you can have it all – on-demand expertise, strong relationships, inspired collaboration, and teams consisting of the best talent in every form. We’ve built an inclusive talent marketplace and enterprise platform,  the Enterprise Knowledge Network (EKN), that connects people based on what they know, not who they know, internally and externally. We partner with our customers to make these deep vaults of expertise more searchable and accessible, which makes it easier to mobilize the right teams. But this challenge can’t be solved by technology alone. Silos must be dismantled to create a true knowledge ecosystem that allows talent to flow where the skills and experience are most needed.

Yes, the traditional talent market may be shrinking, but our collective arsenal of human knowledge is just starting to be unleashed. I believe that we’re on a path to a smarter and more fulfilled society, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

If you’d like to learn more about how we’re reshaping the future of work, please contact me!

#futureofwork #thegreatresignation #thegreatreshuffle #knowledgenetworks