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Article: Why Companies With Strong Internal Candidates Still Launch External Searches Related Resources

Why Companies With Strong Internal Candidates
Still Launch External Searches
from the Salveson Stetson Group

Although many companies prefer to promote from within, even those with the best track records for promoting internally launch external searches to fill some positions, according to
Salveson Stetson Group, a full-service retained executive search firm.

“There are several reasons why organizations launch external searches even when they have strong internal candidates,” said John Salveson, co-founder and principal with Salveson Stetson Group

Among these reasons are:

· The desire to benchmark on-board talent against currently available candidates

· Potentially upgrading their current talent pool

· Acquiring skills and abilities the organization is lacking

· Bringing a new perspective – often from a different industry – into the organization

· Sending a message to internal candidates that they will be competing against the best available candidates – from both inside and outside the organization

Only about one-third of internal candidates are promoted to managerial and executive positions when competing against those from outside the organization, according to search industry estimates.

Frequently, however, current employees fail to compete as aggressively against external candidates as they need to in order to be successful.

“Internal candidates shouldn't assume their colleagues know everything about their background and experience,” said Sally Stetson, co-founder of Salveson Stetson Group. “Internal candidates have to sell themselves to those making the hiring selection, talk about their accomplishments, and send a strong message that they are ambitious and interested in moving up. Unsuccessful internal candidates should ask for feedback to help them improve, and learn specifically in which areas they came up short.”

Companies need to be sensitive throughout the search process to current employees competing for a position. “It’s important that internal candidates know where they stand. If they are treated badly, it may encourage them to look externally for new employment,” said Stetson.

Companies also need to have a final wrap-up conversation with unsuccessful internal candidates if they don’t get the job. “They should know what additional skills and experience they are lacking in order to be successful the next time they want to be considered,” added Stetson. “It is a good developmental opportunity for both the company and the employee.”

Competing for a job opening with an external candidate presents a chance for current employees to compare their skills with those of their external peers. “Internal employees get an opportunity to analyze their strengths and weaknesses from a developmental and experience standpoint,” said Salveson.

In addition, when internal candidates are successful after competing with external candidates, they have more credibility and respect, having contended for the position against an outside talent pool.
“It sends the message that they didn't get the job just because they were already there, but that they truly earned it by demonstrating they were the best candidates from inside or outside the company. This is why inside candidates often welcome outside candidates in the search process,” said Salveson.

About Salveson Stetson Group

Salveson Stetson Group ( is a full-service retained executive search firm founded in 1996. Specializing in $150,000+ salaried positions, Salveson Stetson Group places executives at organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to non-profit entities. The company is based in suburban Philadelphia.


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