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Knowing When to Promote From Within

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Promoting from within and hiring from the outside each has its own set of potential advantages and drawbacks. Some hiring managers fall back on the known commodity approach and would rather stick with a familiar candidate. Consider the quandary of whether to promote from within that the music group Genesis once faced. When lead singer Peter Gabriel quit the band, fans were unable to conceive of the group without him. The remaining members auditioned potential replacements until they discovered there was a capable replacement singer right under their noses. That singer turned out to be Genesis' own drummer, Phil Collins. The band went on to even greater success with Collins as the new front man.

There are other situations that call for looking outside your organization to fill an open position with the best prospect. Here are pros to hiring from within, followed by the advantages of casting your net outside of the company pool.

The Familiarity Issue
Whether they are interns or employees, individuals who have been with your organization have accumulated a knowledge base. More importantly, they have learned to navigate your business culture and successfully interact with coworkers. Are there hidden gems on your staff capable of rising to the occasion? "I look for people who have the will and a little bit of skill," says manager Ted Armbrister. "Workers with the will or the drive to succeed often end up filling big shoes and surprising me in pleasant ways."

Cost Effectiveness
The training costs associated with getting someone up to speed on your way of doing business can't be underestimated. Usually someone who has been with your company is familiar with your pay structure and what type of compensation they can reasonably expect. In addition, hiring from within can save you a good deal of money on recruiting costs alone.

Continuity and Loyalty
Ideally, you want an applicant hired from within to approach the new position with the added perspective of his or her previous position. Continuity engenders loyalty when others believe that the coworker hired to fill the position is deserving. It shows that the company operates on fair principles and can be a great boost to employee morale. However, hiring from within can have the opposite effect if people perceive there was favoritism and bias in the process. Always use objective methods of evaluating internal candidates.

Shaking Things Up
When you're looking to transform your organization and make significant changes, external hiring can be quite effective. A fresh outlook on how to operate injects team members with new purpose and vitality. The key is to make sure that the new hire's vision is closely aligned with your company's. Seeking outside talent helps a business benchmark itself against competitors, and can also motivate employees who see that you are doing whatever it takes to get the best and the brightest on board.

May the Best Candidate Win
When your talent pool within the company does not possess the specialized skills or the experience necessary to succeed in a position, hiring an outside applicant is often your best bet. Hiring from within can backfire if those familiar with the individual question his or her experience or skill level. "Knowing what people don't know can help you make a more informed decision," says Armbrister. Any manager who has made the mistake of hiring someone who proved to be under-qualified in terms of skills can attest to this.

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