When you’ve got a role to fill, managing and tracking external applicants is a necessity - but what happens to internal candidates during the recruitment process in your business? It’s important to have a process in place for employees who wish to put themselves forward for vacancies.
If the candidate has been with your company for some time, there’s likely to be a sense of familiarity which could manifest itself as an informality when you are considering their suitability for the position. They may know your business and are likely to be integrated into your culture, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the right technical skills and experience for the position. Just as you would with external applicants, it is important to send existing employees through the recruitment process to assess their suitability as fairly as possible.
Are there any terms and conditions that might prohibit employees applying for vacancies? Can employees put themselves forward for a vacancy as soon as they have passed the probationary period, or do they need to have worked with your company for a number of years? Are employees obligated to tell their current line manager about interest in the new position? These are some of the formalities you will need to base a written policy around, and one which needs to be made available to all employees. The policy should also outline what internal candidates can expect from the process; this will create a formal structure, help manage their expectations and dissuade them from acting entitled.
You know you have talented people working for your business, but how do you entice them to consider a new opportunity with you? These potential candidates already know your culture, your perks and benefits and your values and goals; what else will incentivise them to apply? You may have to redirect the focus of your recruitment marketing material to emphasise how these opportunities will develop the employee professionally and what new skills and experiences they can expect to gain. Once you’ve crafted the proposition and created an advert, make sure it is well marketed. Circulate internal email bulletins, make sure it’s on the company intranet system (if you have one), create an internal referral scheme and make use of communal employee areas, such as bulletin boards, to gain maximum exposure.
Promoting a process based on objectivity is fair, equal and means that every candidate is judged against the same set of criteria. However, this can be especially difficult for small businesses during the screening and interviewing stages because departments and teams often overlap. If you have an intimate working environment and think that there is likely to be an unfair degree of bias in the process, it may help to have the support of an outsourced recruitment team. Having the employee sent through the same process as external candidates and be assessed by a third-party recruiter will allow the recruiter to detect any potential issues or causes for concern which are likely to be overlooked in an internal, informal chat about the role. This also allows for consistency and means that, similarly to external candidates, you can provide them with more constructive and specific feedback should they be unsuccessful.
Hiring internally, if not acknowledged as a valuable part of the recruitment process, can create internal friction and discourage employees from putting themselves forward for new roles. As well as marketing vacancies as and when they go live, make nurturing staff growth part of your employee value proposition and something that you support on an ongoing basis. If you aim to be transparent about your opportunities for development and career progression, you will encourage a culture that supports individual growth and embraces internal change more easily.
Hiring internally can certainly have its benefits. It can notably reduce costs; minimise time spent onboarding and culturally integrating the successful candidate; boost workforce morale by illustrating that internal career development is taken seriously; and it can also help to eradicate a sense of entitlement, reaffirming that all candidates are hired on merit and suitability rather than simply being given opportunities. It’s important to think about the message you are sending out to your employees if you don’t already have an internal recruitment process in place, and look to rectify the situation by employing a process that serves external and internal candidates alike.