Much has been written about the difficulties many employers face finding job candidates. The pandemic has acted as a massive disruption to the labor market and, beginning last year, we saw a perhaps surprising ripple in “the Great Resignation” — a marked trend of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs and leaving organizations with many open positions.
There’s no easy solution to the problem, but some employers might be able to ease their hiring woes by looking inward. That is, you could review your organizational chart and look for employees who could be promoted to open positions and leadership roles that the tight job market is making it hard to fill.
Upsides of the inside
Promoting existing employees is generally less expensive than hiring from the outside. You’ll save on the costs of finding, recruiting and hiring a new employee, such as advertising on job boards and engaging with recruiters. Promoting internally also can speed up the process; it’s usually faster and easier to identify and interview employees than to find and schedule meetings with candidates.
In addition, promoting employees can help boost morale and improve retention. One reason some employees leave their jobs is because they don’t see opportunities for advancement. Staff members might be less likely to feel this way if they see colleagues promoted to higher positions.
Another benefit is the level of familiarity you have with your employees. You probably already have a feel for their strengths, weaknesses, personalities and performance capabilities. So, promoting internally can sometimes be less risky than bringing in outsiders.
However, promoting existing employees isn’t risk-free. Some employees simply aren’t cut out to be supervisors or managers, or to fill other highly skilled roles. For example, a star salesperson might thrive when selling but flounder when asked to manage other salespeople. Plus, there could be resentment on the part of employees who weren’t promoted and now must report to someone who used to be their peer.
Continuing to look outside
Shifting more emphasis to internal promotions shouldn’t mean giving up on outside hires. The greater job market still offers a much larger pool of candidates. And new employees could provide fresh perspectives and innovative ideas for improving operations or moving in a better strategic direction.
Depending on the position, outside hires also can bring new skills and experience to the role that might lead to more efficient processes and improved financial performance. And recruiting outsiders could lessen resentment among employees who were passed over for a promotion, as well as the unhealthy competition that can arise when employees vie against each other for a position.
On the flip side, you can only know so much about outside candidates. For example, an external applicant’s resumé might look impressive, and the interviews could go great, but the individual’s personality might clash with your culture once work begins. This can lead to conflicts and morale problems that spread throughout a department or even the organization. Or the person’s actual skill level might not match up to what was presented on the written page.
The specific job description and circumstances related to an open position will ultimately determine whether you should promote from within or recruit from the outside. Nonetheless, it’s generally a good idea to be flexible when choosing the optimal approach. You might be surprised to learn that the perfect candidate is already on the payroll.