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Downturn Hiring – Turning to Internal Mobility

Stacy Chapman
April 17, 2020

Employers are feeling impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in a huge range of ways…and many, many of them are making changes to hiring.  One theme we hear from customers is that they are switching to primarily (or sometimes only) internal recruiting.  In our platform, that’s a really simple data switch, but that’s not the reality for most companies.  So – how do you make this switch, partially or completely? 

First, address the key challenges head on: 

The data sucks 

Of all the data you have on potential candidates – your ATS, CRM, RMS, event resumes…so many places – the stalest, least complete, most challenging is likely to be your data on employees.  Worse, it’s usually the last dataset to be connected tightly into your talent acquisition technology and data stack. So it can be really hard to identify the good internal candidates, and even harder to use your matching technologies effectively.  You really DO need to fix this for the long term, because more and more you need good data for everything.  But in the meantime, think of rapid ways you can get the basic data you need, even if that means surveying your employees.  Tie it into some retention work 

The internal politics haven’t gone away 

Internal mobility has been on the agenda in HR for decades, but it’s still tied up with the future of work.  One of the big reasons is around culture and internal politics: 

Yes, you can open up job postings to internal candidates, but it doesn’t do much good if managers won’t hire internal people with lesser skills, managers hoard their staff, and there are no tools to find the right job. Many companies tell me this problem is quite challenging” – Josh Bersin 

At a time of crisis, your managers are likely to want to hold on even tighter to their top performers, and there will be issues for the employee as well.  Are you ready to tackle the politics? 

Your process and systems likely won’t make it easy 

Most recruiting systems and processes are intended to source, find and filter external candidates.  Although there are plenty of specialized internal mobility tools, if you haven’t got them set up an running it will be hard right now.  You’ll need to get creative about connecting and leveraging the tools you have, and apply everything you can to process. 

Your employees are probably nervous right now 

There is always some risk in taking a new job, even if it’s a promotion.  What if you can’t do it?  What if the team isn’t right for you?  What if the new manager drives you mad?  At a time when there are so many layoffs, furloughs and Zoom meetings, those risks will seem a lot higher.  You need to be ready for that, with policies, reassurances and maybe even some guarantees.  A time like this can give your employees a real chance to advance their careers, but they will need to trust you and you may not have the internal mobility support systems in place.  Focus on how to mitigate their risks 

Privacy and data security matter more than ever 

Employees at many companies feel nervous about you collecting data on them, and privacy laws support them.  Be sensitive as well as compliant, and over-communicate what you are doing. 

However, there are also a lot of significant benefits to pushing through these, because:  

Employee engagement is more important than ever 

Now and always there are significant employee engagement benefits to promoting from within.  And with the workforce in many companies feel nervous and discombobulated by all the challenges we’re facing, focusing on engagement is a really good idea right now. 

You have more talent than you realize 

Your workforce is full of hidden gemstalent hidden by talent hoardersand you most likely have a terrible skills inventory if you have one at all, but you definitely have talent you aren’t aware of.  Why not use these tough times as a driving reason (burning platform, if you will) to get that sorted out? 

Institutional knowledge matters a lot 

It’s likely your organization has been through tough times before, but even more likely that a lot of your employees have not.  And how you get through the tough times will require institutional knowledge that you can’t afford to lose.  Leverage it. 

A lot of bad is coming out of this pandemic – how nice if one of the good things that emerges (alongside a deeper appreciation for all kinds of formerly undervalued workers) turns out to be a much stronger focus on internal mobility.  

To know more visit www.swooptalent.com

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

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