Internal recruitment


You notice an open position in your organization, one that could very well be your dream job. The question is whether you can find the courage to apply for it. – Does that sound familiar? Regrettably, to many of us, it does.

Nearly every organization has a well-thought out external recruitment process. But perhaps it would be equally beneficial to think about internal recruitment and its course. While many organizations have already done so, it is surprisingly commonplace to encounter situations where internal applicants have been overlooked. You can often find interest for open vacancies within your organization. How this interest is manifested is largely dependent on the smoothness of internal recruitment processes and general attitudes toward internal applicants.

Shortsighted cost policies

Recruitment always ties up resources and incurs costs. It may therefore seem easier to recruit a person from the outside, given internal recruitment’s potential to kick off an avalanche of recruitments. This may nonetheless prove to be shortsighted.

Recent discussion has often focused on career rotation and securing the commitment of key personnel (talent management). People need changes to their job descriptions every three years or so. Three years constitutes the period of time during which people usually become so adept at their own job that their attention starts to shift elsewhere. What is the solution to this? Are you going to let the person in question apply for a new job elsewhere or offer him or her opportunities for career development in your organization?

In some organizations, career development is only possible in conjunction with recruitment. If the competence required for an open position can be found within the organization, internal recruitment may turn out to be a very profitable investment indeed. Offering such career opportunities does not impact the individual in question alone, but the entire organization. It creates a general atmosphere of a desire to keep competent people in the company and offer them opportunities for development.

How to encourage internal applicants

As in any other personnel issue, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. The organization can establish confidential channels through which employees can apply for new positions without fear of exposure. Applying is so much easier if it is not the general subject of hallway discussions. It helps the applicant to avoid prying questions and uncomfortable situations should he or she not be selected for the job. Many also forego the idea of applying so as not to be labeled a ’traitor’ by their supervisor.

It is also advisable to train supervisors. Such training will help them not to put up obstacles in way of the careers of their skilful subordinates and to understand that being supportive of career development promotes a positive supervisor image. Supervisors who support the career development of their subordinates attract professionals who have a desire to develop.

An internal applicant is not automatically the best applicant

It will pay off to brief employees about the possibility of internal applications, provide them with examples, and draw up common guidelines. It is also important to understand that an internal recruit is not necessarily the best alternative. Sometimes the required competence can only be found outside the organization.

It is advisable to evaluate internal candidates according to the same competence and suitability criteria as external candidates. Filling a position with an unsuitable person just because you want to offer them career opportunities serves nobody. It is therefore worth clarifying the genuine skills and motivation of internal candidates too, by means of, for instance, personal assessment.

However, internal recruitment has its advantages, some of which are listed below:

  • The person already knows the organization
  • Career development helps to reinforce the person’s commitment to the organization
  • The organization does not lose competence, but increases it
  • Opportunities for career development promote a positive employer image

The boog post is written by Terhi Aho. Terhi raises issues involving social media and work environment from HR’s perspective. Twitter: @terhiaho