Are you interested in always promoting from within? Many companies are religious about this age old practice. I don’t like it. Many of these companies don’t even think about engaging a search firm or consider using internal resources to look outside to fill a critical position opening UNTIL they have exhausted all possibilities to find the talent within their own walls.
I think that’s a huge mistake. While I do believe there are exceptions, and occasionally there could be a superstar inside the company just waiting to be discovered – companies and hiring managers need choices. It’s almost a false sense of security to always think that the talent you need is already on the payroll.
I have one client that rarely engages my firm unless it’s a “C-level” search and even then – they spend an enormous amount of time trying to rationalize why an internal candidate should automatically get the job. Pleeease. The time and cycles they go thru evaluating their talent pool is usually wasted time. What they have done over the years by promoting insiders without considering an outside candidate breeds mediocrity. When you hire a weak person internally, you don’t worry about being challenged on business issues. Remember – they’ve already convinced themselves that the insider would be PERFECT and more importantly is “ONE OF US” A “LIFER” so to speak. Huge mistake.
I think it’s a great idea to consider an internal candidate for a critical position opening and compare them to the slate of outside candidates. Absolutely! That is a healthy and wise choice to make. You can measure core competencies, leadership skills, historical performance, success metrics, adaption to the culture and many other drivers that let the employer make the right choice. If, by chance, the right choice winds up being the internal candidate, the hiring manager can take solace in the fact that they did their due diligence, sourced multiple candidates and ultimately made the selection based on comparative data. Without looking outside… I’m sorry – it’s biased and in many cases you could do the right thing for the insider and create a disaster for the company.
I have seen countless examples of great employees that were absolutely perfect for the job they were hired to do. It was the promotion or new job that ultimately caused their career to implode. I always try to get my client to look beyond today’s business environment in evaluating a candidate sourced and vetted by our firm. I want them to look at the candidate’s scalability to determine how well the candidate will be able to adapt and embrace changes as the company grows. Usually, scalability skills come from experience and past performance.
If I had a critical opening and the future of the department or the company depended on hiring the most qualified candidate – I would always look outward. While it’s nice to think that the “diamond in the rough” is in our own backyard…chances are it could just be an illusion.
Always look out the window and beyond for talent. Even if your hunch that Mr. or Mrs Right is already on the payroll, validate your hunch. Convince others that you were right. You might not ever know, if you have your blinders on..
Did I mention that I feel strongly about this subject? Didn’t think so…
Editor’s Note – This post is part of a Point/Counterpoint series, related to an upcoming article in Workforce Recruiting, exploring the merits of filling key spots internally vs. externally. Let’s call it “FOT Responds”, or maybe more appropriately, “FOT Argues”. We’ll link to that article when it goes online…
Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He’s a closer, and you really don’t want to call him unless you’re ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim – his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being “detail oriented” in their feedback….