April 14, 2022

Recruiting As A (Self) Service: Why Talent Marketplaces Will Go From ‘Meh’ To ‘F— Yeah’


We made moves at Hirewell last week. We acquired Rainmakers, a talent marketplace focused in the SaaS sales niche. Michael Ferguson and his team are A+. It was a no brainer.

Why? Well it all goes back to how bad contingent search sucks…

If you haven’t seen my previous flames on the inevitable decline of contingent recruiting, the Cliff’s notes: it’s from a bygone era when skill sets were more general & personal professional profiles were hard to find.

Job seekers had less options (both types of orgs & jobs.) Companies didn’t need to be as sophisticated. Which still lingers in <insert this week’s viral job seeking horror story post here>

But it’s done a 180. Specialization is the norm. Job seekers have high expectations. Everyone doxxed themselves on LinkedIn.

Contingent is being pulled apart in 4 different directions:

???? Highly specialized, expensive hires are going the retained route. Exec has always been this way. Now’s it pushing down the org chart. If it’s important, you need a committed specialist to find it. (Yup, we do this.)

???? Internal talent acquisition is growing. High skill recruiters familiar with process, branding, and communication aspects. Whether it’s permanent hire or OnDemand. (We do both of these, too)

???? Sourcing tech is improving. Your internal team will get more done themselves. Wasting the day doom scrolling LinkedIn Recruiter is silly. Software should find and refine lists for you. (We acquired Sourcewell for exactly this purpose. Launching soon!)

And finally

???? Marketplaces. Anything that can be self-service, should.

Recruiting firms have always been marketplaces. Closed and private. (Thus inherently inefficient.) Job boards are marketplaces, too. (Really basic, dumb ones.)

Not to throw shade at other talent marketplaces out there, but it’s safe to say none have knocked it out of the park yet. (Except maybe RigUp/Workrise in the oil & gas sector.)

Some may have customers and cash flow. But based on the customer aspect: no one is (yet) relying on a talent marketplace to fill all their roles. I can count on one hand how many hiring managers told me a marketplace is a major component of their recruiting.


To work, marketplaces need to be hyper focused on a niche before it grows. It has to feel ‘real’ to both the supply (job seeker) and demand (hiring) sides. You can’t shop at an empty market.

Amazon dominated books before selling everything. Uber and Doordash dominated a few cities before going everywhere. Ebay dominated the junk no one wants anymore market…ok I still don’t get Ebay but whatever.

Not every skill set makes sense for marketplace hiring. If it requires true headhunting? Probably not.

But everything else? Well, we’re starting with junior/mid SaaS sales and we’ll get there…Check out Michael Ferguson’s recent article in Nasdaq about it.

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