In my time as a journalist, internal recruitment was commonplace. We regularly saw reporters and photographers recruited from all over the country to work with the team.

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This type of internal recruitment isn’t common only in newsrooms. Many companies recruit from their current roster of employers rather than recruit externally.

If you’re considering an internal recruitment strategy, find out below if it’s the right move for your business.

Internal recruitment can look like getting promoted to a new role or taking a lateral move to another department.

In addition, a company may choose to open job postings only to internal applicants or it may do so temporarily before opening the position up to external candidates. On average, the cost to hire someone is about $4,000, according to SmartRecruiters, but hiring internally can cost much less.

It saves time and money — and also ensures folks within your organization have a shot at the upward mobility they desire.

In other cases, internal candidates can apply for the open position, but recruitment efforts may focus on external candidates. This may be because of a lack of interest in the posting among current employees or because the desired skill set doesn’t exist internally.

According to our Marketing Leadership survey, 46% of marketing leaders say their company has decreased hiring efforts in 2022 and 34% say their business has paused hiring efforts in 2022 due to the potential for a recession. With this in mind, we may see an increase in internal recruitment, as companies look to save money.

graphic showing top answers to the question, "how has the potential for an economic downturn or recession affected your company's hiring plans in 20224 Methods of Internal Recruitment

1. Promotions

As mentioned before, a promotion entails moving an employee into a higher position of seniority in which they’re given more responsibility and a higher salary.

For example, when the lead news director at my newsroom took a job elsewhere, the assistant news director was recruited internally to take over the role.

2. Transfer

A transfer is when an employee remains within the company but moves to another location.

For example, the station I once worked for was owned by a company called TEGNA. TEGNA owned multiple televisions across the country, and it was common for journalists from my station to transfer to other TEGNA stations in a different city or state while still maintaining their same role.

Transfers are often the result of a change in business needs or the employee’s desire to make a change, such as working closer to family or living in their desired climate.

3. Reorganization

It’s normal for businesses to grow, shift priorities, or merge with other entities. In these cases, reorganization might occur. It can take the form of employees being shifted to other teams or leadership taking on fewer administrative duties and working directly with employees to keep up with increased demands.

An example of reorganization happened back in 2017 when Dow Jones announced that its flagship publication, The Wall Street Journal, would be reorganized to shift its focus away from print and into a digital strategy.

New jobs were created and employees were reallocated into new roles that were focused on the publication’s digital presence and goals.

4. Role Change

Usually, a role change is not a promotion. In this case, an employee may be recruited laterally, meaning they maintain the same level of authority but are operating in a different role.

This is a great solution if an employee is showing skills and interests outside of their current role.

An example of this occurred when a television producer at my former TV station showed an immense talent for creating content for the station’s website and social media.

When a digital producing role opened up, that television producer was selected and a lateral move was made from television producer to digital producer.

What Marketing Leaders Are Looking For

According to our Marketing Leadership survey, marketing leaders are looking for the top skills in candidates:

  • Social media marketing
  • Data analysis
  • CRM
  • People management
  • Strategic planning

graphic showing answers to "What are the top 5 skills marketers should focus on for career growth?"

One way that internal candidates can stand out is by offering strategies on how to pivot during major events, like COVID and a recession. This was the biggest challenge marketing leaders faced in 2022, according to our survey, and any candidate who helps toward this effort is sure to stand out.

Additional key attributes marketing leaders are looking for include:

  • A clear understanding of the company’s target audience and its products
  • The ability to think strategically, both in the short- and longterm
  • Industry expertise
  • Knowledge of trends and an interest in exploring them

Graphic with answers to the following survey question: 'how can marketers working as individual contributors make the greatest impact in their role?"

What about visibility? Our survey shows that candidates looking to make an impression with marketing leaders can do so by:

    • Stepping into leadership opportunities – This can look like leading a project or proposing a new initiative.
  • Aligning marketing activities with company-wide goals – Say your company is working on moving upmarket, your next marketing proposal should factor this in and work toward this goal.

Though these tips can apply to both internal and external candidates, internal ones definitely have an advantage as they know exactly what their leaders are working toward and adjust their approach accordingly.

Legal Implications of Internal Recruitment

Regardless of the method of internal recruitment used, employers must create a policy that is fair and equitable for internal applicants, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.

In this policy, clear expectations must be established for employees who wish to apply. These expectations must be implemented consistently and communicated effectively throughout the company.

It’s also important to remember that federal laws prohibit employment discrimination based on:

  • Age
  • Citizenship
  • Disability
  • Family and/or medical leave use
  • Genetic information
  • Military service
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation

3 Advantages of Internal Recruitment

1. Talent Retention

According to our 2022 Marketing Leadership survey, the second highest challenge marketers report facing is hiring top talent.

As a result, retaining top talent will also be a priority. Hiring internally will allow high performers to advance within the company (motivating them to stay long-term) as well as show others the growth opportunities.

2. Cost Effectiveness

In 2022, cutting costs was a major concern for brands with a looming recession. In 2023, that’s expected to continue.

According to our Marketing Leadership survey, 42% of marketing leaders say the potential of a recession has affected their hiring plans in 2023. Among them, over half (54%) plan to decrease hiring efforts.

graphic showing top answers to the question, "how has the potential for an economic downturn or recession affected your company's hiring plans in 2023

This creates room for more internal recruitment, which eliminates costly job board fees, time-consuming rounds of interviews, and pricey background checks.

3. Shorter Learning Curve

Chances are that whoever you hire internally will already have a solid understanding of the company’s culture, practices, and processes, thus lessening the time it would take to get acclimated to a new role.

3 Disadvantages of Internal Recruitment

1. Workforce Gap

When a position is filled internally, you’re moving an employee from one role to another. This effectively closes one gap but creates another that needs to be filled.

If the role has been deemed redundant, it works out well but it’s important to ensure that their previous responsibilities have been absorbed by someone else.

2. Stagnation

One of the perks of recruiting externally is that employees from outside the company can bring unique perspectives and innovative processes to propel the company forward.

This can be the opposite for internal hires who are likely to work using the same processes and ideas they’ve been using throughout their time in the company. Lack of fresh approaches and ideas can create stagnation in the workplace and can put the business behind its competitors.

3. Lack of Skills

With internal recruitment, there is a chance your current roster of employees may not have the right set of skills for the position you’re looking to fill.

And while internal hires typically require less training than external hires, you may run the risk of spending more time and money training the internal hire if they don’t possess all the qualities to succeed in their new role.

In those cases, it would be better to recruit externally to find a candidate who already has the necessary skills from previous experience.

So, is internal recruitment right for your business?

Ultimately, there are many factors that determine whether internal recruitment is the right choice over external recruitment. If your company has a position to be filled and you have one or more employees who could be successful candidates, then recruiting internally could be a timely and cost-effective choice.

However, if your employees do not currently seem to be the right fit, or you’re concerned about limiting your candidate pool, then it wouldn’t hurt to expand to external recruiting.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2022 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. 

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