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Vertical Marketplaces Poised to Lead Post COVID-19

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The way the world has gotten work done for decades has become highly diversified across a multitude of different sources of talent. Some work is shifting toward specialization while repetitive, rules-based work is being automated. Specialization has made work more technical and markets more targeted. And over the last several years, even the way companies acquire them have become more specialized!

This trend will accelerate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the virus reached U.S. shores, organizations faced an intense war for scarce talent. Worker-placement platforms evolved to assist in bringing together gig workers and the companies that needed them for short-term assignments.

High demand and limited supply created an environment in which broad, horizontal talent marketplaces could thrive. Sure, sites such as Craigslist and Indeed have a broad, expansive reach but times have changed. And while the next weeks and months impact on a recovery still seem unknown, hiring initiatives could explode forcing another intense war for talent.  In fact, because the country’s underlying economy was humming along before COVID-19 emerged, many expect recovery to arrive much more quickly and be more widespread than previous recessions.

As this rapid recovery gains momentum and the surplus of quality, skilled workers floods the system, organizations will need more agile and specialized platforms for attracting, evaluating, and landing the specific workers they need. Though wide-reaching, generalized placement platforms may still be able to supply a volume of candidates for low- to moderate-skill positions, companies may not turn to them for help fill critical roles. Whether startups emerge or existing platforms adapt to fill targeted needs, more narrowly focused marketplaces will provide one-stop sites, either for specific worker types, demographics, industries, or job descriptions. The best will provide access to workers seeking full- and part-time jobs, freelance assignments, contract work, and other traditional and non-traditional employment arrangements.

Here’s why leaner, more vertical hiring platforms will carry the day during the recovery:

Emphasis on Skills

The pandemic will hasten the trend away from defining workers based on job titles. Taking a cue from the contingent worker market, employers will begin cataloging the skills they have available to them and the tasks their workers can accomplish using those skills. Workers will escape being “typecast,” and – like freelancers and consultants – may find themselves moving from project to project and task to task as the need arises. They will have greater influence on which company initiatives they work on. Those who have or can quickly acquire critical aptitudes outside their “core” experience and skill categories may enjoy their pick of available assignments, gigs, and employers. Companies that know what they need will turn to these “specialty” platforms to screen the candidate pool. They will know the workers on a specialized site are more likely to meet their standards for education, experience, and critical skills.

Added Value

Vertical worker placement platforms that vet these skills, guide workers to open positions in which they can excel, and those that recommend prime candidates to hiring organizations will gain users and establish themselves as the industry standard. Delivering these additional services transforms marketplaces such as Toptal and 99 Designs to dedicated matchmakers. They can devote resources to employ AI, coaching components, dispute resolution services, payment processing, etc. Many specialty sites already are offering liaison services. Shift, which helps military veterans’ transition to civilian jobs, can graphically show how service experience translates to tasks companies need to be performed. Sites that take a “one-size-fits-all” approach put themselves at risk by playing it safe. More innovative platforms will step in to fill niche markets, tinkering with offerings, prices, and fulfillment that resonates with the market.


Once the rush to replenish talent supplies begins in earnest, it will continue to gain momentum. Companies will need to move quickly to get their fair share of the available skilled workers. They will no longer enjoy the luxury of taking weeks to hire for critical roles. Platforms that focus on specific industries will serve as pre-screeners, handling the time-consuming initial ranking of candidates. That helps firms hire more quickly, at less cost, and with reduced turnover. These marketplaces will use technology specially designed for the industries they serve. They will be able to use analytics to produce reports for their hiring clients, categorizing applicants based on their likelihood of accepting the position or which applicants possess the most relevant skills. Especially if COVID-19 persists or returns, this service will help secure the best workers. Timing will be critical. Companies that misinterpret the economic renaissance as a blip risk being left behind. The companies fastest to develop a plan and burst out of the starting block will win the race. Narrow vertical marketplaces will fire the starter’s pistol, while horizontal platforms will not be able to pivot, even when the economy indicates it is time to pull the trigger.

Managing your workforce is difficult to do on your own. It is even harder when faced with the current uncertainties and dramatic shifts in demand. Metasys is the expert you need to help you consider all your options and make the best decisions for optimizing your access and use of talented sources of workers. The workforce management teams at Metasys can show you ways to cushion your organization against the current difficulties and position it to flourish when the economy reboots. Our managed service provider programs (MSPs) can support your plan for effectively hiring all categories of workers to carry you through the crisis:

  • Traditional employees to help you maintain operational continuity and provide basic services to customers
  • Long-term freelancers for ongoing projects and initiatives that can be jump-started when it becomes apparent that we have turned the corner
  • Contractors, temps, and gig workers you can call upon to scale production and logistical services.

Contact Metasys to put our expertise, technological infrastructure, and industry contacts to use building your stable of talent resources that you can tap for any situation, opportunity, or challenge. We will tailor a solution to fit your needs, your industry, and your budget.


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