Radnor, Pa. — March 30
Although many companies prefer to promote from within, even those with the best records for promoting internally launch external searches to fill some positions, according to Salveson Stetson Group, a full-service retained executive search firm.
“There are several reasons why organizations launch external searches, even when they have strong internal candidates,” said John Salveson, Salveson Stetson Group co-founder and principal.
Among these reasons are:
- The desire to benchmark onboarded talent against available candidates.
- Potentially upgrading their talent pool.
- Acquiring skills and abilities the organization is lacking.
- Bringing a new perspective — often from a different industry — into the organization.
- Sending a message to internal candidates that they will be competing against the best available candidates — from both inside and outside the organization.
Only about one-third of internal candidates are promoted to managerial and executive positions when competing against those from outside the organization, according to search industry estimates.
Frequently, however, current employees fail to compete as aggressively against external candidates as they need to be successful.
“Internal candidates shouldn’t assume their colleagues know everything about their background and experience,” said Sally Stetson, Salveson Stetson Group co-founder. “Internal candidates have to sell themselves to those making the hiring selection, talk about their accomplishments and send a strong message that they are ambitious and interested in moving up.
“Unsuccessful internal candidates should ask for feedback to help them improve and learn specifically in which areas they came up short.”
Companies need to be sensitive throughout the search process to current employees competing for a position.
“It’s important that internal candidates know where they stand,” Stetson said. “If they are treated badly, it may encourage them to look externally for new employment.”
Companies also need to have a final wrap-up conversation with unsuccessful internal candidates if they don’t get the job.
“They should know what additional skills and experience they are lacking in order to be successful the next time they want to be considered,” Stetson said. “It is a good developmental opportunity for both the company and the employee.”
Competing for a job opening with an external candidate presents a chance for current employees to compare their skills with those of their external peers.
“Internal employees get an opportunity to analyze their strengths and weaknesses from a developmental and experience standpoint,” Salveson said.
In addition, when internal candidates are successful after competing with external candidates, they have more credibility and respect, having contended for the position against an outside talent pool.
“It sends the message that they didn’t get the job just because they were already there, but that they truly earned it by demonstrating they were the best candidates from inside or outside the company,” Salveson said. “This is why inside candidates often welcome outside candidates in the search process.”