By now you should know what sort of person you are looking for. The question you need to address now is where will you find them? Before you spend money on advertising the vacancy externally, have a look around you. Your new recruit may already be working within your organisation.

Transfers and promotions

If your organisation has a personnel plan, or a formal appraisal system in place, you are probably aware of:

  • Current staffing levels
  • Current staffing requirements
  • Anticipated staffing requirements for the next twelve months
  • Employees with potential for transfer or promotion

Some companies will provide good employees with training and development in anticipation of future prospects and promotion opportunities. Even if you do not have a formal personnel plan, you may still have the ideal recruit from amongst your existing workforce. There are a number of advantages to promoting or transferring existing staff:

  1. You already know how an existing employee works, their strengths and weaknesses, their training and development needs, their performance, and their loyalty and commitment.
  2. Existing staff have already adapted to the organisation’s culture and working style.
  3. You will save time and expense on external recruitment.
  4. It is motivating, both for the promoted employee and for other staff, to work for an organisation that is seen to promote from within.

But there are challenges to overcome as well:

  1. You must always recruit the person most suited to the role, not necessarily the person who is ‘next in line’. This can lead to dissatisfied employees who consider that they have been overlooked.
  2. You still have to go through a thorough, formal and fair recruitment procedure, giving others the chance to apply for the vacancy.
  3. You need to strike a balance between the need to retain good employees and the need to bring fresh, new ideas and thinking into the organisation.

Advertising internally

Your ideal candidate may already work for your organisation. If yours is a large organisation, with hundreds or thousands of employees, there may be someone working for another division or department who is already looking for another job. So how do you make sure that you attract their attention?

  • Notice boards & bulletin boards
  • Company newsletters
  • Internal e-mail
  • Company intranet
  • Memos & circulars
  • Direct approaches

If you go for the direct approach, make sure that you are being fair to all potential applicants. Office gossip will ensure that the word is spread about a vacancy, so make sure that you exploit this.

Rejecting internal candidates

When an internal applicant is rejected for an internally advertised position, you are likely to create a disgruntled employee. Sometimes this can affect the candidate’s morale and confidence so badly that they feel forced to leave the organisation altogether. So it is important to take time to explain why they were rejected for the role, what specific skills or attributes were missing, and what the candidate could do to ensure that they would be successful next time. Your aim is to ensure that they are not discouraged to apply for other internal vacancies in the future. You may wish to discuss specific training that the candidate should consider in order to be better suited for a role of the type you are recruiting for.

Turning temporary staff to permanent staff

This is a little used method of recruitment that can be extremely effective. You can turn temporary staff to permanent staff in one of two ways:

  1. If you already employ a number of temporary or casual staff, you can search from amongst them for someone suitable for the vacancy.
  2. You can recruit a temporary member of staff to fill the vacancy, and then see if they are suitable for permanent employment.

Although either of these methods can work, the second method involves two main hazards. First, you will be charged heavily by the recruitment agency that supplied you with the temporary member of staff if you offer them a permanent position. Second, you may find the ideal employee, but they may not be looking for something permanent.

Trawling through your temporary staff is good practice, however. People take on temporary work for a number of reasons, and some might be only too glad to have the security offered by a permanent position. Others might be willing to juggle their other commitments in order to work for you full-time.

Case study

Joe was studying for a business degree part-time (mainly evenings) at a London university. He took on temporary work helping out the busy customer service department of a publishing company during his summer recess. Although the work was initially for August only, the company asked him to work in September and October as well, to cover their autumn sales season. Joe found that he could work three days each week without affecting his studying time. When the company was looking for a full-time Marketing Assistant, Joe seemed ideally suited to the role. When the Marketing Director discussed the vacancy with him, Joe was concerned that he would not have sufficient time left to study. With a little negotiation, the Marketing Director and Joe reached a compromise that satisfied both parties. Joe would work a 35 hour week, leaving him with enough time to study in the evenings and at weekends. Joe was delighted to find an employer prepared to be flexible throughout his period of study. He was also glad about the prospects that working for the company would offer. The Marketing Director was delighted to have appointed someone whose work she knew, and whose commitment was already proven.


Workers approaching retirement are often interested in staying on in an organisation on a part-time basis, or in returning as an independent consultant or contractor. It may be because they need the money, but more often it is because they find the prospect of so much free time daunting. Either way, using a retiree to close your vacancy gap can be very sensible.

  • Their work/attendance record is known to you
  • They will probably require less training/induction
  • They already understand the work ethic and culture

Of course, in most organisations, the chances of finding just the right candidate, just as they are approaching retirement, are slim. But if the outgoing jobholder is retiring, consider whether they might want to stay on part-time, or continue part or the entire role as an independent contractor.

Former employees

Some companies have a policy not to re-employ staff who have left them, unless they left on health or maternity grounds. If your organisation has such a policy, then this section is not relevant to you.

For everyone else, how would you feel about re-employing a former member of staff? Usually, the answer lies in the reasons that they left in the first place. Clearly, if you had to dismiss the staff member, there is no question of offering them another position in the organisation. But what if they left to work for one of your competitors? Your pride might tell you not to consider them. However, they may have gained useful market knowledge from having worked at two companies in the same sector, which makes them very desirable.

Don’t feel embarrassed to contact a former employee to see how happy they are in their new position. They may regret having left your organisation, and be only too pleased to return. Keep all your options open. You have no obligation to re-employ a former employee, but you should not rule out the possibility either.

Often, an employee cites the lack of opportunity as the reason for leaving an organisation. If you now have such an opportunity available, then it is certainly worth contacting the former employee to discuss the position. They may be pleased to return to a position with better prospects and greater opportunity. If they do not, you can still ask them if they know someone else who might be right for the position. This can often lead to a referral, and so it is worth making contact.

Reward programme for referrals

When recruiting new staff, some organisations ask their own staff for referrals. If they recruit someone who has been recommended by a member of staff, then the organisation will reward that staff member. The rationale is straightforward. Your staff know what it is like to work for your organisation. They know and understand the terms and conditions, as well as the culture and working environment. If they are motivated in the organisation, then it is likely that some of their friends or associates might be as well. Besides, they are hardly likely to recommend that a friend joins an organisation that will not suit them, are they?

If you decide to ask your existing staff if they know of anyone who might be interested in the position, you must make several points absolutely clear:

  1. Their application will be considered in the same way as any other applicant.
  2. They must apply in the appropriate fashion, either by application form, or by covering letter with CV.
  3. They will not be guaranteed an interview. They will only be short listed on merit.
  4. They will require references other than the existing member of staff.


If your organisation is based in a town or central location, you may find that people drop in from time to time to see if there are any job vacancies. They will often leave a copy of their CV with you. It makes sense to keep these CVs on file for a fixed period of time, in case a suitable position presents itself. If you have such a system in place, it is worth reviewing the CVs of these candidates before committing to recruiting externally.


  • Is there someone in your organisation that you would consider transferring or promoting?
  • Where might you advertise internally?
  • How would you handle having to reject internal candidates?
  • Do you have suitable temporary staff who might be interested in a permanent position?
  • Has a retirement of a staff member created the vacancy?
  • Would the person retiring be willing or able to continue some or all of the role part-time?
  • Would you consider appointing a former employee?
  • Do any of your existing staff know of a friend or colleague who might be suitable for the role?
  • Could you introduce a reward programme for staff referrals?