What’s Old Is New Again: Hiring from Within

November 12, 2021
Author: ThinkWhy Staff

Remember the long-ago days when larger companies offered a career ladder, and long-tenured employees would get on-the-job training and additional training and climb that ladder? Well, it’s trendy again, and now called “internal recruitment.”

A benefit of internal hiring is quicker onboarding due to the employee’s company knowledge.

Internal Recruitment is a great way to retain good employees who are already familiar with the company, especially in the current tight labor market. Many companies have developed innovative tools to help retain, upskill and promote from within.¹ But the problem for most companies isn’t tools — it’s changing entrenched practices focused on external recruiting versus career-building.

“You have to put in place programs, support systems, rewards, and tools to help people move from job to job,” said human resources expert Josh Bersin.² “This includes lots of things which may not be in place today.”

Most employees understand that to get ahead, not only must they manage their own career, but sometimes changing companies can be the only way to advance and earn more.

“There is no real career track for people working here, and if you want a promotion, you probably need to go somewhere else because if a role does become open, we’ll probably go outside to fill it,” John Hollon, talent management journalist and editor, said in a recent ERE article.³

At first glance, the concept of hiring from within for filling critical roles and for employee development — both of which are good for the company — sounds like a reasonable, easy-to-support idea. But when an employee changes jobs to fill another valued role for the company, it leaves a hole and the consequences cause temporary challenges that can build resistance.

The employee’s previous manager and talent acquisition must now invest time and effort in filling that hole. The move impacts the employee’s previous team projects, leaving other team members to carry the load until a replacement is up to speed. Wouldn’t it just be simpler for everybody to hire a new person for that first role?

Essential Steps for the Transition to Internal Hiring

For internal hiring to work for your company longer than a New Year’s diet, the essential first step is to secure buy-in from all levels of management on the significant benefits of developing employees both vertically and across departments. Their commitment to developing people rather than hoarding them for special roles leads to cross-trained, capable people who better understand how the elements of the company work together. In turn, this can result in smoother operations, increased innovation and high employee engagement, which correlates to increased productivity.

Once management is supportive, you can minimize roadblocks and related headaches by starting with these steps, making it easier for everyone in the company to adapt.

  1. Establish revised hiring procedures to include and prioritize internal hiring.

  2. Implement new tools (or revamped tools for a budget) to enable user-friendly adoption of new processes.

  3. Create reinforcing reward systems for managers who develop and release their employees, and employees who make the leap to lateral and vertical company job openings, to reinforce the new internal candidate prioritization.

  4. Launch with communication at all levels, with positive success stories and clear training, to ensure that all employees are aware of the change and know how to take advantage of and/or support internal opportunities.

Worth It in the Long Run

Taking advantage of assets you already have in hand — in this case your employees — simply makes sense in the current labor market. Scarcity of certain talent, high levels of voluntary resignations, and the high cost of employee turnover currently justify an investment in internal recruitment and employee development. But, with the forecast of continued scarcity of talent in many fields, the trend to retain, upskill and promote from within could have positive ROI for your company for the foreseeable future.

Related Reads


  • fuel50.com/2020/02/the-future-of-work-lessons-in-job-architecture-and-career-management-josh-bersin/
  • joshbersin.com/2016/04/reinventing-the-career-what-should-organizations-do/
  • ere.net/internal-recruitment-no-longer-talent-acquisitions-overlooked-stepchild/ *