Looking for Talent in All the Wrong Places

Raffa Financial ServicesRaffa Financial Services on 10/04/2018

When a position opens up in your organization, what’s your first reaction?

For many recruiters and HR teams, it’s “casting a wide net,” “bringing in fresh eyes,” or “rounding out the team” through an extensive external search. And while these may seem like logical ideas to move your business forward, you could actually be taking a few steps backwards.

Outside vs. Inside

You’ve worked hard to hire people with relevant hard and soft skills who fit nicely into your company culture. Could you do it again? Sure! But why not consider looking at your inside talent first? You know, those people who are already kicking butt and taking names. The ones who, if they happened to quit or get recruited away, would leave a big hole in your team. And maybe even in your heart.

Sometimes, we love our high performers so much that we can’t imagine them in any other role. With these employee blinders on, the only option we can see is the one that keeps them exactly where they are. So we shower them with praise, throw a bonus their way every once in a while, and hope they will stick around for the long haul. But in doing so, we could be missing out on some of the best job candidates ever… the ones we’ve already found!

Shifting your mindset to think inside first can yield impressive results. When you consistently promote internally, some pretty amazing things can happen.

Saving time

A good job search process can’t be rushed. Conducting an external search with multiple candidates, deadlines, and interview phases takes a significant amount of time. Time that your busy HR team could use for other things.

Filling a job internally is significantly quicker, and the time spent onboarding a current employee is exponentially faster. Yes, you’ll have to fill your internal hire’s position, but perhaps you can do that with a qualified insider as well. If you develop repeatable career paths, repeatable and efficient hiring processes will follow.

Saving money

Research has shown that external hires:

  • Demand higher salaries
  • Receive lower performance scores
  • Are more likely to leave their new positions than internal hires

Interestingly, the lower performance metrics held true even when external hires had more education and more experience than internal hires, two factors that played prominently in justifying higher pay grades for outside talent.

Let’s do the math here. Higher Performance + Faster Onboarding + Lower Turnover = Win-win-win.

A word of caution: The potential for cost savings here is huge, so don’t skimp when adjusting your internal hire’s compensation. If you don’t pay your internal hires what they’re worth on the open market, they’ll eventually find someone who will.

Increasing employee engagement and retention

Remember that data we referenced earlier about how internal hires hang around longer than external hires? Lack of career path is a major reason why good employees leave.

Instead of just talking about how you love your employees, prove it by promoting internally. Not only does it show how committed you are to their career development and growth, it also gives your team something to work toward. Your staff will naturally be more engaged when they can see exciting options and pathways available to them and an employer who rewards hard work and performance.

What not to do

Hiring from within can be a great way to go, but there are a few things you’ll want to avoid when hiring and promoting internally.

Play favorites  If you’re going to solicit internal candidates, you’d better make sure you’re holding everyone to the same standards and processes. Come up with a system and stick to it. Hold both job seekers and hiring managers accountable for following proper protocol.

Create conflict  Healthy competition is good. But when employees are pitted against each other for internal positions, there is potential for those who aren’t chosen to feel slighted. This can be mitigated with open and positive communication and an atmosphere of teamwork. Offer to meet or chat with candidates after the fact to provide feedback and coaching. This can be a very helpful process for candidates and managers alike.

Promote randomly  Be careful not to promote your star performers away from their natural skill sets. Your awesome accountant probably isn’t going to make a super sales manager. That said, pigeonholing your employees isn’t a good idea either. They may have untapped skills that could be a huge benefit to your organization. Being open but strategic will help keep the right people in the right seats.

Insider ROI

Promoting from the ground up is a great way to ensure your leadership is full of people who know the company, respect the culture, and understand what it’s like to be in lower level positions. This results in a deeper knowledge of how things work, and a better understanding of what processes can and should be improved. It also breeds efficient and empathetic managers, which leads to a happier, more productive workforce.

So, go ahead! Start thinking of your current stars as future leaders and see where it takes you.


We help clients identify organizational challenges, create big picture strategies, and put customized solutions in place. From tailored benefit programs to custom retirement plans to risk management services, we’ve got you covered.


Photo by MvanCaspel

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