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Enterprise Talent Clouds as a Sourcing Channel in 2024

Gain insights from industry expert Rodrigo Vázquez Mellado on the future of talent sourcing in 2024.

March 6, 2024

The world of work has changed dramatically in the past decades, and with around 40% of all American workers doing at least some freelance work in 2023, the gig economy is ever more prevalent and normalized. Global companies need to adapt, so they must find a way to combine the traditional way of finding talent (full-time employment, typically close to home) with the modern practice of engaging the services of freelancers and contractors, local or overseas.

However, the latter comes with challenges because working with freelancers and contractors within a corporate setting isn’t easy to manage manually. That’s where using a talent cloud can help, built for yourself or otherwise. One telling fact, as experts have pointed out recently, is that talent clouds are used by managers to source talent at 400 of the Fortune 500 companies. 

While this is typically done in an effort to circumvent HR and hiring bureaucracies for temporary work, it’s also becoming a sourcing channel for full-time, tested talent. As we’ll see below, the more bespoke the talent cloud, the better your chances of engaging with top talent in the long run. 

What’s an enterprise talent cloud? 

An enterprise talent cloud is a private network of skilled freelancers and agencies curated by businesses for their project needs. By building this network, companies ensure quick access to trusted professionals with relevant experience, enhancing project efficiency and quality. 

On their part, freelancers, agencies, and contractors included in an enterprise talent cloud enjoy priority consideration for projects, increasing their chances of securing high-quality opportunities in the short and long run. Some HR professionals refer to this as an open-talent strategy— a fresh approach to recruitment that views talent as part of a global network, internal and external, providing agility and resilience in meeting organizational demands.

How do you build an enterprise talent cloud?

Building an enterprise talent cloud requires a strategic approach based on your organization's goals and objectives. You can start by defining the particular skills and expertise your projects require and then reach out to freelancers and contractors with these capabilities. Agencies specializing in the fields you need, like say, programmatic advertising or graphic design, can also help.

If you’re starting from scratch, your best bet is a top freelancer platform, like Worksome. These are tools that go beyond being a freelancer marketplace where you can engage professionals on a per-project basis. They are also fully-fledged and cloud-based software hubs that help you manage the whole process, from vetting and selecting a freelancer to having them submit work and then paying for their time in a safe and secure manner. These platforms provide features such as advanced search filters, talent ratings, and project management tools to streamline the sourcing process. 

Once you have a tool in place and have chosen a freelancer or contractor, you need to create a structured onboarding process before assigning work. From the get-go, establish clear communication channels and expectations to foster collaboration and accountability within the talent network.

Regularly review and update your talent pool to ensure it remains dynamic and aligned with your evolving project needs. By actively managing and nurturing your enterprise talent cloud, you can create a valuable resource that drives innovation and success across your organization.

How do you source from a talent cloud? 

Candidate sourcing from a talent cloud involves leveraging the platform's features and capabilities to identify and engage with suitable candidates not just for a few projects— but perhaps for long-term work. In other words, once you feel comfortable with a particular freelancer and constantly go to them for recurring work, you can consider making them contractors or full-time members.

Naturally, the avenues will vary depending on your headcount growth plans and the individual’s professional goals. As with any relationship, it’s best to discuss this openly. If your team is ready to take on an additional member, it’s just a matter of asking the freelancer if they’d be happy to be considered for a full-time role. If they are, then it’s time to send them through the respective hiring process.

An alternative, especially with overseas team members, is engaging them on a constant basis through a contractor status. In short, they remain a self-employed independent worker, but you become their main client, depending on the amount of work. For small companies, this can be much easier to navigate than going through an Employer of Record, for instance. 

The intricacies of each arrangement are all a matter of preference— on both sides of the employee-employer relationship. Hence, one of the benefits of setting up an enterprise talent cloud within a trusted platform is that you manage all these varying relationships, from one-time freelancers to full-time contractors, from the same hub. 

What’s it like to work through a talent cloud? 

As a writer and editor, I’ve been on both sides of the equation when using a talent cloud. As a worker, it can be great news to be invited to join a talent cloud because it can mean ongoing work and a certain preference for pitches for projects. For example, when I was part of a French-speaking-focused talent cloud for Quebec businesses, I’d get notified when a new project that fit my skills was posted. We in the talent cloud could apply before the thousands of others who used the very popular platform.

Later on in my career, a client that I found on a separate talent cloud asked me to join full-time as a remote independent contractor, doing 40 hours of work per week and earning the equivalent of a full-time salary, but able to live wherever I wanted to and occasionally do freelance work for other clients. Looking back, it’s been far easier to find work this way than through traditional methods such as job websites, applying to LinkedIn job postings, or stepping foot on a job fair. 

Then, on the hiring side, the teams I’ve been a part of have also found it easier to source talent this way. At SelectSoftware Reviews, where I currently work full-time, several members of our small team were initially found as remote contractors on a digital platform like Upwork or Worksome. These tools make it considerably faster to smart-filter through several worker profiles, reach out to them, and then engage their services before committing to a more long-term arrangement. 

2024 for enterprise talent clouds

While your talent cloud won't constitute your entire workforce, industry projections indicate it could encompass a larger percentage of companies' personnel with every passing year. It’s safe to say that most enterprises are embracing some combination of an external talent cloud and an internal talent marketplace. 

As evidence of this trend, Harvard researchers have found that organizations adopting the open-talent model achieve comparable work outcomes to those employing traditional staffing methods. However, they do so at a significantly accelerated pace, completing tasks four to five times faster and at a fraction of the cost, typically eight to 10 times cheaper.

So, in 2024, it’s likely time to stop viewing talent clouds and the professionals in them as temporary solutions but as part of a long-term approach to sourcing— and hiring at large. 

Written for Worksome by: Rodrigo Vázquez Mellado

Rodrigo has worked in tech since 2015 across various marketing and product roles. These roles put him on a path toward the world of recruiting and HR. For instance, he used to help recruiters at companies like Walmart and Alorica to improve their hiring through the use of AI. At other startups, he also took an active part in the recruiting of new team members. More recently, he’s worked as a writer and editor at SelectSoftware Reviews, covering HR software niches like payroll, HCM, workforce planning, and AI Recruiting. Rodrigo is also an avid traveler, recent jiu-jitsu practitioner, musician, and language enthusiast. Find from Rodrigo on LinkedIn, blog, email.

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