During times of growth, do you prefer to hire externally or promote internally?

  • 24 April 2020
  • 2 replies

Userlevel 2

In my 10 year career, I have worked in 2 different organizations that had opposite approaches to filling management and leadership positions, and I would love to hear your thoughts on how you approach filling key roles.


One organization was really big on developing their future leaders internally. There was a large focus on identifying talent across your teams and providing the training and opportunities to take on more and more responsibility. When there was a new position being added, internal candidates were typically the preference as they were more of a known quantity. 


The other organization was all about hiring top down. For example, our COO may wear 4-5 different hats and at some point, a decision is made that one of those hats has become too big and needs to be worn by someone full time, so a new role is added. Instead of looking internally, we would go look for someone externally that has strong experience in that area to come in from the outside that can hit the ground running. 


There are certainly times for both, but I would love to hear your personal take. Thanks!

2 replies

Great question Brandon, especially during this odd time in the hiring market. 

I would say it has a lot to do with the stage of your company. If you are early stage, most employees have only been with the company for a short time, or they are the Founder, CTO, etc who have no room to move up. 

But many early stage companies do have generalists who are looking to specialize, so within our org, we make a point to track each employees career goals and makes sure we are putting those goals first. 

That being said, it’s important to put the most qualified person in a role, regardless of if they are internal or not. So I think a combination of focusing on your employees career growth, while keeping an open mind about external candidates is key. This has a lot to do with operations actually- the hiring process and employee development must be extremely well thought out in order for the system to work. Just my two cents!

I agree with Diana, and would add that this is an important topic to keep in mind, because oftentimes organizations wait to hire until the need is so strong, that the process gets rushed. And when that happens, internal employees can either get overlooked, or an internal employee is promoted to a position they are not ready for. That’s why career development is a key piece for any organization to focus on. 


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