The hiring process in some companies focuses on external candidates. The professionals in these companies who are responsible for hiring might be more passionate about external talent than the potential internal candidates, and their recruiters more likely search for the talent outside the company. There should be a balance between external and internal hiring especially if you are following a talent management policy to identify and retain your talents.
Changing your company culture for talent acquisition from an external focus to internal is a long and challenging journey. It includes setting and following principles across the board, involving the top management and all your employees. I will explain my suggestions below.
- Decide about your hiring policy and align with your stakeholders. The beginning is to create a structured hiring policy prioritizing your internal candidates to move cross-functional (transfers between roles and/ or departments) or promote. You should clearly define the eligibility rules for promotions and transfers. It is better to align what you are aiming with your main stakeholders. This can not be established overnight. You should analyze your capacity and eligibility of internal candidates. It is better to have a look at your last year statistics of internal v.s. external hiring ratios and commit a target ratio.
- Set up your approach for the change.As the owner of this cultural change and mind shift you should demonstrate great passion. It needs a sponsor and involvement of every human resources professional that has a direct impact on hiring managers, functional leaders, and any other hiring decision makers including talent team within your company.
- Be prepared for challenges. You will face barriers from hiring managers who believe that the needed talent is on the outside of the company, they will continue focusing on external hiring and say “we need fresh talent that will bring the expertise we do not have within the organization” , “I do not have a real talent to achieve the targets” and put pressure on the hiring team. Do not expect that the hiring managers are as passionate as you are about sourcing the vacant roles internally all of a sudden. There is no easy and speedy way to make the line managers adapt this change. You should show them the results frequently.
- Create a genuine story and a name for your program, to establish a highly valued program that benefits enhanced employee engagement and retention, I strongly suggest to name your program genuinely so this will help you to call it by a name and promote it later. Always try to mention the name in meetings where appropriate. Shape a meaningful story for it having some context that shows the internal hiring ratio in the past couple of years, your turnover ratio and its main reasons. So that you can later show the progress and change in culture.
- The barriers against the change. The old conventional promotion approach of the company could be a barrier. The hiring managers may continue to be inclined to promote somebody they know with specific know-how. It means that the hiring managers are less likely to consider an employee working in another division, or the line managers who normally likes keeping “their talent” within their own division will be against the change. To ensure the success of the program, you should continue to transform the organization’s way of thinking. You should show that there is no “my talent” anymore, but there is “company’s talent” and the talents should move across the divisions for their development and success. You can do this by creating the clear policy.
- Sponsorship of senior leaders is very crucial.
No new big transformation can be achieved without the sponsorship of senior leaders in the organizations. Whoever your leadership team is, you should have their alignment on this change program. Without this alignment, you will just kick off and promote a program that will not be bought by the company. You will need this sponsorship to overcome the decision challenges (like the one in section 5) that may come from hiring managers. In these times, you will need a concrete reference (your policy) and stakeholders, sponsors who will continue to support the policy and its benefits.
- Do not forget the intelligence ; report, analyze and share the results of internal hiring activity and its link to turnover with the senior leaders.
To do this you will need a good analytic tool that monitors all hiring, promotion process in detail and creates in-depth reports to make decisions. It will absolutely be powerful to show what percentage of your talents have internally moved cross-functional or promoted. This tool will also help you to manage the eligibility of your employees to transfer or promote. This will give you the opportunity to coach your line managers and talents to make good career decisions.
- Make career counseling a tool in your talent management approach. You could make one of your talent team members to be responsible for this. She/he can coach and teach your talents about their career movement within the company. This will give great focus on your internal talents and will help them to hold their careers in their hands, which in turn will make them more engaged.
- Prioritize your program to be a part of people discussions in the leadership meetings, regularly update the leaders of the company about these results and give them separate internal hiring ratio (promotion and hiring from within) targets for their own functions so that they will follow up this with their direct managers and support your cultural change to succeed.
- Approach for the management of exceptions; do not think that there will be no exceptions because there will be. We all know that if you make an exception than the rest will follow. A method for managing them would be to establish a committee or a decision authority. If you do not want to have a headache, you should be open and honest for exceptions as well.
- The last but not least ; focus on the selection and assessment criteria of your internal hiring process. The criteria for promotions and cross-functional transfers should be simple and transparent to the entire organization.
My suggestions could continue forever :). To me, these are some important topics you should focus on IF you want to start and achieve an employee focused change program in your talent acquisition policy so that you have a good mixture of internal and external talents. Do not forget that external talent will become internal who will then need attention.
Do you think these could work ?
If you have any questions and comments about implementing a successful change in your hiring process please do not hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org)