A guide to successful internal recruitment



Read time
7 mins

Discover the benefits of internal recruitment and how you can get it right

Between April and August 2020, internal hiring in the UK increased by 20% compared to the same period in 2019. This increase was also seen globally: Germany, Singapore and Mexico all hired internally at a higher rate than the global average (19.6%). Recent falls in unemployment has meant that organisations have had to focus more on upskilling existing employees to fill vacancies – nearly a third (31%) of UK business leaders are working on giving employees the opportunity to move into different roles internally – creating less need for HR to recruit externally.

With 73% of talent acquisition professionals saying internal recruiting is increasingly important to their company, we highlight how you can successfully implement an internal recruitment strategy.

What is internal recruitment?

According to Indeed, internal recruitment is a human resource strategy that prioritises filling new positions or vacancies with existing employees.

Internal recruitment is not to be confused with in-house recruitment, which is when recruitment for the company is handled internally by an employee focused on hiring.

Types of internal recruitment include:

  • Promotions – the most common internal recruitment method. You may decide to promote employees if they are performing well
  • Transfers – employees move from one department to another within the organisation if they want to develop new skills or become an expert in a specific area
  • Confirmations – an employee on probation, an intern in a temporary position, or even an independent contractor who becomes permanent are all examples of confirmations. This also includes keeping maternity leave cover on after the contracted date if the original job holder doesn’t return, or if the team needs to expand
  • Referrals – you can save time searching for employees by getting employees to refer viable candidates to you

External recruitment, on the other hand, is when you look to recruit talent from outside of the company, either through head-hunting specific individuals, or inviting candidates to apply for job vacancies share through your HR recruitment software.

By hiring from outside the company, you can focus on recruiting people who have experience in the field and relevant skills. These candidates are likely to bring with them new ideas, which internal candidates might not be able to do.

Looking for candidates outside of your company also increase your chances of finding a qualified, successful applicant. Having more potential hires can also allow you to be more selective and find candidates with the right education and experience for the job. It’s also an opportunity to improve equality and diversity in the workplace, by hiring from a broader range of backgrounds.

However, a larger pool of applicants means having to spend more time going through all applications and finding the best candidates. Once you find the best candidate, you then have to take the time to train them up and onboard them which can take a few days. Specialist recruitment and onboarding software, such as Ciphr’s, can help to significantly streamline the process of finding, hiring and onboarding new staff.

Benefits of internal recruitment

1. It saves time

You don’t need to spend as much time carrying out background checks because some will probably have been carried out when the employee first joined the company, although some roles may require additional checks to be carried out. You will also save time on interviewing; informal interviews for you to get to know the candidate better may not be needed. You may, instead, choose to focus your time on interviews where you assess the skill level of the employee for the new role. You can also save time on onboarding existing employees will already be familiar with your culture and processes.

2. It saves money

With internal recruitment, you can use internal resources such as community boards to advertise new positions. This is cheaper than having to pay for ads on job sites when recruiting externally, however, it’s important to point out that you can also post job ads for free on some sites when recruiting externally as well.

3. It improves morale

When employees see that they are being given opportunities for career progression, they are likely to feel satisfied at work and more passionate. A new, challenging role with more responsibility can give employees the chance to learn and develop new skills, as well as demonstrating that their employer cares about their development and wants to keep them at the company.

4. Internal recruitment is less risky than hiring someone new

You know that employees are a good cultural fit as they already work for your organisation so there is less risk in the wrong candidate being hired for the role.

Drawbacks of internal recruitment

1. The pool of applicants is limited

When recruiting internally, the only people applying will be those who already work for your organisation. This will be a smaller number of applicants than you would have when recruiting externally, meaning you might miss out on candidates who are a better fit for your requirements.

2. It creates gaps in departments

Giving an employee a new role means their old role is now vacant. You might struggle to fill this gap so you have to take the time to ensure the remaining team is still able to work efficiently with one less employee.

3. It can create a competitive culture

While healthy competition can be good for motivating employees, too much conflict over internal vacancies might negatively impact relationships. Several employees may want to land the new role, and those who don’t get it may be unhappy at work and end up taking this unhappiness out on their colleagues, or even leaving.

How to implement a successful internal recruitment strategy

Here are three tips on how you can create an effective internal recruitment strategy:

1. Address the company culture

Before you start the process of circulating details of the vacancy, you need to ask yourself if the company culture is one where employees will feel comfortable applying for another position. If they feel insecure in their current role and don’t feel confident enough to talk to their manager about moving to another team, they might avoid applying for an internal position out of fear or discomfort.

Mitigate this risk by making sure all managers have received leadership training. You should also encourage managers to have open conversations with employees about career progression – and track these conversations by using tools like Ciphr’s talent management software and let managers know that internal vacancies should be discussed – if needed – when discussing performance.

2. Circulate the vacancy details

Once you know that employees are likely to be applying for internal positions, you should make sure the vacancy is circulated internally in different ways – sending out company-wide emails, posting on the company intranet or putting the job ad on the noticeboard are just some of the ways you can let employees know about an internal vacancy.

In these communications, you should ensure the job description is clear – if employees realise they were mis-sold the role once they are in that position, they might end up leaving the company, which you want to avoid.

3. Use HR software and digital tools

When dealing with internal recruitment, it can help to have recruitment solutions in place. With our recruitment software, for example, you can post internal vacancies to your company job board or to your own website, making it easier for employees to see which internal vacancies exist and the deadline for applying. Employees can then apply for the vacancy through Ciphr's recruitment software, where you can also review it as well, making the recruitment process smooth and efficient.

What’s right for your company?

Choosing between internal and external recruitment depends on many factors.

Ciphr’s talent manager Lucy O’Callaghan says: “if you want to hire someone to fill an existing skills gap, external recruitment may be best. However, if you’re looking to recruit for a senior role, internal recruitment might be better as employees already know the company.

“Either way, internal and external recruitment both have their place in the process of building and growing your workforce.”

Request a demo to find out more about Ciphr’s HR, recruitment and onboarding solutions