A business model that has been quietly developing for almost 20 years could yet turn out to be among the most disruptive parts of the workforce solutions ecosystem, according to the “Introducing Recruitment Marketplaces” report released last week by Staffing Industry Analysts. Better commercial models and technology improvements are making these platforms much more compelling today than they were 10 years ago.

A recruitment marketplace platform enables employers to tap into a much broader and diverse network of staffing suppliers — networks that are potentially larger and more diverse than those owned by the largest global staffing firms, according to the report. These platforms may be used primarily, though not always, as the final resource for hard-to-fill vacancies.

Some recruitment marketplaces act as a platform for staffing agencies while others are a platform for a network of freelance (or independent) recruiters; some vendors combine both channels. Other terms used to describe this category of service include crowdsourced recruitment platform, crowdstaffing platform, recruitment agency marketplace and recruitment aggregator.

According to the report, additional benefits of recruitment marketplaces include the convenience of single-supplier invoicing (and rebates) and also much better speed of engagement as participating parties will be obliged to subscribe to the terms and conditions imposed by the platform and not have to negotiate terms on an agency-by-agency basis.

“Most recruitment marketplaces are growing their businesses ahead of general staffing market growth rates, some substantially so,” John Nurthen, executive director, global research at SIA, writes in the report. “SIA expects this model to continue to benefit from greater market penetration as skills shortages increase and employers look for the most effective way of sourcing rare talent. It will also be interesting to see whether recruitment marketplaces can capture market share away from VMS given their ability to offer similar sorts of functionality and fewer integration challenges.”

SIA’s report provides insights on more than 30 vendors globally. It is available online to CWS Council and corporate members.