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You’ve got a vacant position at your company and the time has come to fill it. The first place any hiring manager is going to look is within, to see if there are opportunities to elevate someone qualified for the role. In some cases, there might not be. That’s okay.
When the right candidate doesn’t come from within, many companies see it as a problem—or worse, offer the position to an internal candidate that’s not equipped to take it. This becomes a significant problem, especially in the case of upper management or even C-level positions. The fact is, sometimes an outside candidate is simply the best option.
Lack of candidates doesn’t mean lack of talent
The first conclusion many companies jump to when there’s a dearth of internal candidates is that their workforce is under-skilled. Often, this isn’t the case. Rather, their talent pool might lack the specific set of skills demanded by the available position.
For instance, if you need to replace your Chief Financial Officer, you don’t just need someone who knows accounting. You also need someone who has the soft skills to lead a department and the experience in a leadership setting to embrace goal-setting, evaluation and strategic planning duties. Picking a replacement from a team of well-qualified in-house accounting professionals might not be the answer if they lack these role-specific traits.
An outsider can reinvigorate the business
The reason many companies look internally to replace candidates is out of fear of upsetting the culture. They want someone who knows how things work and who can step into a role with limited change in the workplace dynamic. Often, that means shying away from outsiders who are more qualified and capable of bringing powerful change to the business.
Consider what it means to hire not just from outside the business. You might be able to bring on a CPG executive with 20 years of experience working for multinational brands—experience that might not be available from within your up-and-coming regional enterprise. Not only does the external candidate know the industry, they also know how to shepherd your growing company from where it is, to where it’s going.
Foster new development opportunities
Let’s say your worst fears are actually true: your current employees just aren’t qualified to move into a higher role. While you look for an external candidate, this is your call to action to create upskilling and training opportunities in-house. The next time there’s a vacant position with an opportunity for upward mobility, you’ll have more than enough candidates to choose from—so long as you take the time to educate, train and empower your people.
As an added bonus, the external candidate you bring in to fill the position is likely to bring a wealth of experience with them. This change in leadership brings new knowledge in-house: knowledge your team can absorb and put to work as they grow. Combined with internal training initiatives, it’s a quick way to fast-track your team’s cumulative development.
Don’t be afraid to look outside the company
Ultimately, the key objective in filling a vacant position is to put the best possible candidate in a position to succeed. If that person doesn’t exist in-house, don’t be afraid to look outside the company. You’ll be rewarded with a larger candidate pool, a broader range of experience and a depth of talent that’s virtually limitless. And while it might be a little scary to bring in a new face, it might be just what you need to achieve the next level of success.
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