Corporate Inbreeding OR What Do You Mean You Only Want Internals?

Jason Pankow Candidate Pool, Jason Pankow, Recruiting

I know this has been covered at FOT in the past, but it seems to be the story of my life, recently.

New position opens. It’s fairly senior. Fearless recruiter (that’s me) sits down with the hiring manager to discuss the nuts and bolts. We talk about qualifications, must haves, nice to haves, diversity plan…all the good stuff. After a productive discussion, fearless recruiter asks, “So, where should I focus my search for these candidates?”

HM responds, “Oh, I only want to consider internal talent.”

Beg your pardon?

See…at a corporate behemoth like mine, there happen to be a lot of highly talented folks already employed at the company. Many hiring managers, particularly ones who have been at the company for a while, believe that there is such a vast talent pool already inside, there is no reason to spin our wheels looking outside. There is truth to this and the point is a fair one.

But, here’s why I push back.

I fully support considering internal talent. Often, internal transfers are part of a long term career plan. Other times, especially in my world, people simply want to work on a different (and much more exciting) product.

However…I am not a fan of exclusively considering internal talent. Think about it. If a company continues to recycle its talent over and over again, where are the new ideas? Sure, there are smart and creative people in the company. But, there are also smart and creative people in other companies who have grown and been influenced in different ways. New ideas are important to innovate. New people can bring new ideas. If we refuse to open ourselves to these people, we’ll be doomed to status quo.

Often, posting a position internal only seems like taking the easy way out. It’s a way to [maybe] fill a position quickly and simply get the process over with so you can get back to work.  Another way to look at it…it’s slacking. That’s right…I said it. You worked in group A which worked closely with group B which is how you met internal candidate Q, whom you later convinced to transfer to new group X. Done. No fuss, no muss, no coconuts.

As consultants, (and surely as a recruiter, even as a corporate one, you see yourself as a consultant, right?), it’s important that we keep our clients reminded of the fact that there is extraordinary talent that is to be found outside of the company. In fact…there is so much talent out there, that companies hire people like me to find and close such talent. Sure, we can look exclusively at internals, recycle our own talent while creating an opening for another team to fill. Or…we can throw some externals into the group, consider everyone, and truly hire the best and brightest for the job.

At the end of the day, may the best person win, regardless of where they’re coming from.