Recruiting new employees is challenging. If you’re constantly hiring, you’ve got to build a talent pipeline and keep it full. If you only recruit occasionally, it may feel like starting all over again—every single time. 

But what if you had a secret weapon to help you find great people quickly? Good news: You do! It’s your employees.

When we think of recruiting, we often start from the outside in. Job listings. Career fairs. Staffing services. LinkedIn. And while these are all great ways to go about finding quality candidates, you may want to consider looking from the inside out.

Developing internal talent

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in expanding our search or finding a magical unicorn candidate that we forget to look at what is right in front of us.

Sure, your internal candidate may not have 100% of the skills needed to take on that new promotion, but there are many advantages to hiring from within:

  • Quicker, easier, less expensive recruitment
  • Pre-existing relationships with staff and clients
  • Candidate is a known entity, less risk of a bad hire
  • Higher likelihood of retention, cultural fit is a match
  • Less training required on company systems and processes
  • Creates career path options for enthusiastic team members

Promoting from within may not always make sense, but before you automatically launch a search for external candidates, it’s definitely worth looking around to see who on your team might be interested in and capable of moving to the next level.

Tapping into internal talent won’t magically solve all of your hiring problems, because at some level, you’ll still have a spot left to fill. However, there are many other ways you can use your existing workforce to help you find excellent new additions.

Internship programs

There are lots of great things about internship programs. Not only will you get some extra stuff done, you’ll also get to feel good about training and mentoring the next generation of workers. And chances are good they’ll teach you a thing or two as well. 

If you have an effective internship program in place, it can be a fantastic breeding ground for talent.

Hire an intern for an open position and you’re already half way through your onboarding process! They’re already familiar with the organization, partially trained, and usually well-liked. After all, who doesn’t want to see the intern succeed? It’s like rooting for the underdog. It just feels good.

If you don’t have interns currently, look back at your list of past interns. No doubt there were some stand-out performers you would have loved to hire back in the day. Connect with them on LinkedIn. See what they’re up to and start a conversation. Even if they’re committed to a new position, they may be able to recommend someone else equally as fun and talented.

Employee referral programs

Speaking of recommendations, why not get some from your current employees? Most people know at least one or two hard working people who are either unemployed, underemployed, or underappreciated in their current positions.

Because employee referrals are personal, everyone has a stake in the outcome, which means you’re more likely to get quality candidates. Cousin Ed isn’t going to suggest hiring Cousin Ted if he’s a total flake. Ed is no dummy. He knows that will reflect badly on him as well.

Many employers rely heavily on employee referral programs to keep their teams full of happy, dedicated people. Some companies reward those who refer talent with payouts upon hiring or after the new hire meets certain milestones (six months, one year, etc.). Even with a reward-based system, employee referral programs are extremely cost effective, saving lots of time and money for both HR and employers.

Former employees

It may sound odd to suggest inviting former employees back into the mix, but this can be an efficient way to fill certain positions.

Capable employees leave for a variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with the organization. A move. An illness. A life change. All of these things can temporarily derail career paths. Don’t assume that these star performers are out for the count. They may be looking for the right opportunity to get back into the game.

Retired staff members can also be a good source of talent. Who knows? Maybe they secretly miss being part of the team and would love to help out temporarily or on special projects.

Even employees who left or were let go for other reasons can be a good fit later, depending on the circumstances.

If you’re still feeling squeamish about this idea, here’s something to consider: Howard Schutlz. No? Okay. Steve Jobs then.

Former applicants

Let’s face it. Sometimes you find the right person at the wrong time.

Like when that awesome candidate wasn’t the most qualified person for the position, but somehow you just knew they’d be a great hire. Or when that final hiring decision came down to an agonizing choice between two amazing applicants and you wished you could hire them both.

No need to toss these near-misses aside, never to be seen again.

Keep a file on past candidates that won you over and when a position comes up, look through it to see who might be a potential new hire this time around.

That perfect person might just be waiting inside.

Photo by LittleAngell

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