Vacancies: should you recruit new staff or promote internally?
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Vacancies: should you recruit new staff or promote internally?

on 18 November 2020

​Every organisation goes through recruitment processes to fill vacancies from time to time.  The age-old dilemma lies in the fact that promoting someone from within the organisation may result in advantages for the organisation when compared with the alternative of recruiting new employees to fill such positions.

Vacancies - recruiting internally or promoting?

But the recruitment process is one of Management’s hardest tasks, as this necessarily involves knowing well and truly the organisation’s requirements, and understanding whether each employee’s capabilities, fit into the organisational requirements.  Hence the filling of such positions could be a disappointment to some, but may be positive in that the decisions taken will seek to understand the additional value and benefits to be generated from having an external person joining the organisation, as opposed to the additional value and benefits to be gained should someone from within the organisation be promoted to fill the vacancy.

If one had to analyse the benefits and costs of recruiting new staff to fill vacancies, and compare these with the benefits and costs of promoting existing staff internally, the net effect is always dependent upon how much the organisation is willing to pay in terms of financial packages, how soon the vacancy needs to be filled and become productive, and the vital criteria of whether the organisation may not have the specific skills required within the organisation, and one may have to recruit purposely.

These factors are further compounded by other determining criteria that necessarily affect the final decision on whether to promote from within or recruit from external sources.  David Brookmire (2013) recommends considering the following criteria in such situations. In his opinion, where there exists a very strong culture, a financially strong business and retention concerns, an organisation would do well to consider filling vacancies from internal sources as their main option. Alternatively, whenever new competencies, new innovations and a turnaround role are required, the organisation should consider recruiting staff from external sources.  It may also be argued that employing from external sources is normally a more risky option than promoting from within mainly due to the fact that the internal employee would already be known to the organisation, which may use this employee’s talent in filling a vacancy.

It is also however true that the most appropriate talent does not necessarily come from within – in fact, in the words of Andrew Mangion, Executive Chairman of EC Language School during a recent BLM Conference, it is a proven fact that the employees that help an organisation grow and develop to a certain point are not necessarily the best persons to enable that organisation to grow even further – hence, the team that helped an organisation go from point A to point B is not necessarily the best team that will enable the organisation to go from point B to point C.

The development of talent within the organisation is thus a long-term approach, and by including HR long-term strategies within the corporate strategy, one is able to determine which forthcoming vacancies should be filled by the existing workforce, and where external talent should be brought in to the organisation. As an organisation grows and matures over time, so must its’ People Management strategy, focusing upon building a talent pool that will enable the organisation thrive over time in the challenges it faces. Through effective HR planning an organisation is thus able to identify the competencies that will be required in both the short- and long-term.

When deciding whether to promote employees internally or else recruit from external sources, the primary task of modern people management is to actively seek, match, train and retain the talent it requires, as this is key to business success.

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