Internal or External?

If you have a position to fill should you be able to fill it internally?

In a word, yes.

I once worked with a client who believed that if you are running your department properly you should always have people ready to move up the ladder should someone leave the company or be promoted or transferred. In fact she told me emphatically that she considered it important to have someone who could step in and take her place should some tragedy befall her – like getting hit by a bus.

If you don’t have that kind of succession planning in place don’t feel bad – it sounds good in theory but doesn’t often work in real life (especially the getting hit by a bus part).

However you should be hiring people who are promotable and your company on the whole should have a culture whereby people are promoted on a regular basis.

In fact if you go outside to fill the majority of your positions (especially management positions) it sends a poor message to the rest of the staff. Most of whom have ambitions of their own which if left unfulfilled will make them easy targets for headhunters.

If you have a position to fill and there is no one in your department who is ready to step into the role you should consider looking within other areas of the company.

Remember current employees have an advantage over those from outside the company in that they already understand your product, have a feel for company culture and are a known commodity with relationships and a network internally.

This gives them an edge over external hires even if they don’t have as much experience. The tricky part is often how to attract them. I worked with a client once that had terrible responses from internal postings and yet when they hired externally people would complain that they hadn’t looked inside.

Part of the problem is the internal posting method of most companies which usually consists of a poorly written and poorly presented job description posted on a bulletin board in some out of the way place. Some companies have begun to move their internal postings to an electronic intranet format but you shouldn’t just depend on this.

You should be networking within your own company to find out who the rising stars are and you should be developing relationships with them so that they want to work in your department. They should see it as a logical step for them career wise.

One problem that will arise is that people will apply whom you know up front are not even a remote fit for the job. When this happens do not let them go all the way through the process only to be disappointed. Tell them up front that you don’t think they are a fit.
I know of some companies where they let people apply for jobs over and over and over again and take them all the way through the process when they have no chance of being selected. If you are going to encourage people to grow and stretch you owe it to them to sit them down and discuss where they need to develop in order to make it to the next step.

When you have exhausted all internal possibilities only then should you call Michael or myself to help you.

Oh, and bring money.

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