Internal recruitment

Should you promote your staff or hire externally?

Recruiting is always a difficult process—for any business, regardless of size, annual income, or number of employees.

If you lose an important member of staff, or are looking to hire someone new, you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming process.

But there’s a school of thought that suggests hiring from within your business is one of the most effective strategies available.

And in this guide we’ll take you through how you can make it work.

What is internal recruitment?

It’s where your business looks at your existing employees to find a suitable candidate for a role you have.

You can actively promote the role amongst your workforce, encouraging applications.

After that, through internal staffing you can shortlist candidates and hold interviews—as you would when you recruit from applicants not already with employed by your business.

There are advantages and disadvantages with this approach to hiring.

But the idea is it can make your recruitment process easier by finding the suitable talent from within your business.

It can also cut down on costs and save you money—but we’ll reveal more of these benefits further below.

Anyway, to sum up, an internal recruitment definition is as follows—when a business looks to fill a job vacancy from its existing workforce.

It’s as simple as that.

The different types of internal recruitment

There are various ways you can promote a role to your existing workforce. Some of the most popular ways include:

  • Promotions.
  • Transfers.
  • Advertisements.
  • Freelance to full-time employee.
  • Enlisting retired former employees to freelance or work part-time.
  • Having an employee referral scheme.

The most popular example is promotions—taking a talented member of staff and progressing their career in a new role.

But it’s ultimately up to you which approach you take.

Your internal recruitment process

Advertising a position through internal channels could motivate any staff who think they have a chance of getting the job to work harder to prove themselves.

By raising their efforts, their results will often improve—not a bad way to improve motivation across your workforce.

Here are some internal recruitment examples:

  • Circulate the job opportunity in a 'News' email.
  • Keep an updated Jobs/Careers section on your company intranet.
  • Post the job on your corporate website if you don't have an intranet.
  • Pin the job ad on your company noticeboard. Make the ad eye-catching.
  • Make sure it’s clear whom staff should contact if they want to apply for the role.

If you’re going to open the position up to internal applications, you should approach hiring for this role as normal.

This means you should write a detailed job advert focusing on these:

  • The job role and its duties.
  • The level of experience sought.
  • Any certifications that would help the candidate.

Since you’re hiring from within, you should make it clear whether you’ll offer any training—it’s important as it may affect your applicant shortlist.

As you already know your employees, you can even consider trying out a few new approaches—experiment to see if you can improve your existing hiring strategy.

A job audition can help you determine which of your internal candidates best suits your vacancy.  

Anyway, you can read our HR guide to best recruitment practices for some hints and tips.

Here’s an internal recruitment email sample

You can use this template to advertise whatever the role is—you can adapt this as you see fit for your business (plus, for the role you have).

In this, you should look to include:

  • Job title.
  • Department.
  • Location.
  • The responsibilities of the role.
  • Candidate requirements.
  • The recruitment process.
  • Deadline for applications.
  • Perks and bonuses with the role.

Your template can follow the structure below, but be aware this is a sample and you must follow the policies and procedures of your business.


Email subject: There’s an internal opening for [Job title]

To [department],

There’s a new vacancy available for: [job title]. That’s in the [department].

We encourage all employees interested in this role to apply. It’ll be responsible for the following duties:

  • [List of job duties].

If you want to be considered for the role, you should have at least [list your requirements for candidates].

Please reply to this email to start the application process off—we’ll email you the full job spec. And please explain why the role interests you in your email to us.

You can also speak to our HR department, or a line manager, if you’d like to find out more.

Best regards,

[Manager name]

*End template*

The advantages of an internal recruitment process

The reality is businesses often overlook this option in favour of the traditional route.

Do you need a new staff member? Get the job advertisement out. But you may miss out on a golden opportunity if you do that.

It can make sense to hire from within, providing you with some of the following benefits of internal recruitment:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Looking within your business cuts down on external recruitment charges, which are often costly. There’s no posting on job boards, either, or paying for any background checks (if that’s often a part of your recruitment procedures).
  • Save time: Recruitment is hard work—scouring through hundreds of CVs from recruiters to pick a handful of interview candidates takes a lot of time. Taking a look at your existing workforce to find suitable individuals? It’s a real time saver.
  • Employee familiarity: They already know how your business operates, are a proven force within your business, and fit into your company culture. So it’s a great opportunity to take talent from within and develop them, making them even more effective within your business.
  • Lower onboarding times: Again, your employees know your business—so induction days and training will be greatly reduced.
  • Improve employee engagement: By promoting from within, it can strengthen your company culture—it shows you value your workforce and there may be opportunities for career progression.

The advantages and disadvantages of internal recruitment really depend on your type of business and the level of experience for the role you have available.

So consider your options available. Sometimes a promotion from within may be the perfect choice—other times you’ll absolutely have to look outside of your business.

Disadvantages of internal recruitment

External recruitment methods are still an effective way to bring exciting new talent into your business.

Simply put, you may not have any existing employees capable of fulfilling a role you require.

For example, you can’t suddenly promote someone to a web developer role—if that’s not their skill set, they won’t have a clue what they’re doing. 

You’d need an experienced web developer. So, there’s no other choice but to recruit externally.

Some other disadvantages of promoting from within are:

  • Limit your candidate pool: So, as above, you may end up seriously limiting your business. If there are only a handful of candidates to choose from—and their experience isn’t quite what you want—that’s not the best option.
  • Workforce gaps: By hiring internally, you may end up creating a need to hire externally anyway. If there’s no one to cover off your employee’s original job, you’ll have to start recruiting again. So, your best option may be to start with an external recruitment campaign.
  • Destabilise your company culture: Bringing in external candidates can stimulate your culture, ensuring your employees meet new people, and bringing in exciting new ideas to your business. Only hiring internally can block such opportunities.
  • Colleague conflict: For your employees unsuccessful when applying to a new role, this can create bitterness. So to maintain harmony, you may want to hire someone new.

Ultimately, you must weigh up your options when hiring internal candidates.

Internal and external recruitment have advantages and disadvantages, so take your pick from whichever suits your business right now.

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