In the world of recruiting, the low hanging fruit, comes from those applicants that apply to our job postings. More often than not, it is essential to also have to go out and proactively search for the right candidate. The next level of ‘fruit’ would be picked via search job boards, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter profile searches. Further up the tree you will find candidates via additional social sites, associations, conferences and career fairs. Employee referrals are mixed in there somewhere.
When I am working as a recruiting consultant for a large corporation such as IBM, I relish the opportunity to surprise a candidate with a call or email letting them know that we find their skill set attractive for our position opening. Most candidates find the attention flattering and welcome the opportunity to learn about a job opening they might not otherwise have heard about.
Most companies have an internal job posting up for a few days before opening up that job for external candidates to apply. Within larger corporations it is unfortunate that internal postings may go unnoticed by the best and brightest employees. If we actively pursue external candidates why not do the same for our internal employees? By actively pursuing our internal candidates we keep the employee from being lured away by a competitor, thus saving the company money with a lower turnover ratio. Additionally it is a benefit to search within the company database of employees since internal candidates are already familiar with the company culture, systems and clients. Workers will be more motivated to do their best if they feel you recognize talent and reward effort while providing ways for them to gain new skills and experience. All of this translates to enhanced morale and productivity.
Following are a few key skills and characteristics that you will want to look for in your internal employee: Do they demonstrate a broad business thinking and acumen in a variety of situations on the job? Are they regarded by others as a business expert and openly share learning opportunities with them? Do they embrace change or fight it? Can they see the big picture in a project? Seek out those employees that are committed, engaged and accountable to getting the job done correctly, on time and within budget. Character and motivation are as important as the actual skill required to do the job. Don’t overlook the quality internal candidate that has the potential to learn a needed skill given a little coaching and training.
Not all internal employees are desired candidates, following are a few warning signs to look out for in an internal employee: Are they so good at their current job that they look down their nose at everyone else? Do they think they are superior to the point of telling everyone else how to do their job? Do they go running to their immediate supervisor the minute they have an issue with another team member? Stay away from those employees that upset the apple cart! The manager is more than happy to have you take this type of employee away from their department, this activity of happily giving away an internal employee is most commonly called ‘Pass the Trash’.
Develop a list of those internal employees that are standouts. List the characteristics that you see as valuable to the corporation as a whole. When the time comes to hire someone to your department refer to this list first to see if someone on your list would make a great addition to the team. Make sure you are always on the lookout for good people. Maintain your list of possible internal hires as part of your department’s long-term strategic planning process.
You will need to know how to sell your opportunity to the internal employee. Approach H.R. to find out where the employee stands financially and whether or not they fit within your department budget. If you can’t afford the employee seek a salary exception from H.R. or the finance department. Will the skills you teach the employee enhance their overall career, if so, how? Tell them. How much ramp up time will the employee need? Will you have a mentor available to assist them? Does your department have a positive culture? Where have other employees moved on to from your department?
To attract internal employees to your department contribute to the company intranet. Join your company Facebook page and make contributions on a regular basis. Join groups on LinkedIn and contribute to the discussions. Have a dedicated team members write for a blog that details the activity of your department. Advertise on these various forums when an employee has been recognized for a job well done. Become known as the department that other employees aspire to be transferred to.
The next time you need a critical job filled, search for the sweetest low hanging fruit of all, the internal employee.