2024: The year technology transforms the talent market - Five predictions

Vikram Ashok · February 14, 2024 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/57fe

Flexible and on-demand talent will surge amid budget pressures and changing work habits

In a year rife with uncertainty, adaptability reigns supreme. Challenges like surging inflation, dynamic talent landscapes, tech disruptions, and geopolitical shifts demand agile strategies. Against this economic backdrop, leaders must be agile and capital efficient. More than ever, talent is the key to success. Yet the talent market itself is in a state of flux! As technology changes the global talent marketplace, it's important to understand what's driving this change, so that you can not only anticipate those changes, but capitalize on them.

Here are my big five predictions for 2024 -- predictions that are shaping how we're designing our solutions at Graphite.

Prediction #1: Budget constraints will create demand for flexible talent

In 2023, widespread budget cuts and layoffs prepared companies for a potential recession. Looking to 2024, Google, Disney and others have initiated further cost-cutting, signaling ongoing budget pressures. But these companies will still need access to critical expertise. With hiring managers facing an uphill battle to bring on full-time employees, the demand for on-demand consultants will increase. The economics support leveraging on-demand talent, but the question is quality and reliability. Will these companies be able to source the right people at the right time? That's where technology will play a big part. The winning players in this arena will be those that can leverage technology to provide their clients on-demand talent that's not only highly efficient, but also high-quality.

Prediction #2: Service providers will give way to platforms

The on-demand talent market has traditionally been serviced by hand. Client requests are handed-off, and then handed-off again as service providers run through stacks of resumes trying to find candidates that might be close-enough to present. We are on the cusp of a sea-change to this way of doing business. Technology can now sort and organize massive amounts of candidate data enabling real-time matching to client needs. In parallel, high-performance talent isn’t going to want to send their profiles off into an email abyss. Top talent is going to expect a transparent digital experience, where they feel they are equally in control of the process. These demand and supply dynamics will converge in the form of digital platforms able to handle high-volume with a personal touch.

Prediction #3: Soft skills will increase in importance

Once technology solves the basic problem of skills and experience recommendations, the market will start to demand even higher quality matching. The next frontier is “soft skills” assessments. It won’t just be about IQ, but also about EQ. Which candidates represent the right fit not just for the project, but for the company culture? Which candidates will match the cadence of the project? Our data at Graphite suggests that a poor soft skill match is the #1 cause of a failed independent consulting project – yet the tools for measuring soft skills effectively are still in the works. Further complicating the matter is the fact that some consultants may be great at supporting one type of company culture but fail at another. Some projects don’t require collaboration, whereas in other projects collaboration is critical to project success. Winners in this arena are going to design capabilities that create exceedingly strong soft-skill based matches.

Prediction #4: Transformational projects will give way to incremental improvement

As enterprises continue to anticipate choppy market conditions, they will shy away from large-scale transformational projects in favor of more modest incremental improvements. The challenge for providers is that staffing $100K projects is 10x more labor intensive than staffing $1M ones. Technology is here to help – it’s just too hard to staff, service, and support an endless stream of mini-projects when you’re designed for a few big ones. 

Prediction #5: The standard 9-5 commute job is mostly 'dead,' particularly for mid-to senior-level workers

Since the pandemic, we’ve seen a transformation in how, where and when work gets done. Return to work mandates from several companies have been met with resistance, and it's hard for us to envision a future where mid to senior-level professionals in white-collar industries will go back to the standard 9-5 commuting arrangement five days a week. That ship has (largely) sailed. The gig economy is crashing into the high-skilled workplace and that trend is only going to accelerate.

Summing this all up, the rapidly changing nature of work, coupled with intense economic pressure, is going to create the perfect storm for the emergence of tech-forward players in the talent market. The providers that get in front of these trends will make big gains, while the ones that don’t will fall behind. And for my bonus Prediction #6 for 2025 – expect market consolidation as the tech-forward winners stretch well ahead of the rest and start to gobble them up!

(Image source: https://unsplash.com/@austindistel)

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Vikram Ashok

I'm Founder/CEO of Graphite.com, a global technology platform for on-demand work. I have prior experience in private equity. I enjoy talking about and writing about the future of work, marketplaces, the gig economy and HR tech.

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