Attempting to fill open positions with external applicants versus your qualified employees can present a quandary for any business owner. There are pros and cons in hiring from either talent pool. How this issue is handled represents one of the most important factors affecting the credibility of the HR function within any business. A savvy HR professional can negotiate the fine line between fairness and potential problems using a few simple procedures plus a dose of common sense.


Businesses can find themselves mired in problems -- including those of a litigious nature -- unless HR has a hiring policy in place as a guide. Your policy should state that current employees are given the same consideration as those applying from outside the company for open positions to avoid discrimination contention. The policy should be understood as focusing on filling open positions with the best qualified person after careful evaluation of all relevant factors.

Set Expectations

HR professionals should provide an internal notice clearly stating the requirements of the job, making it clear that internal candidates will not receive special consideration. Job postings should include a detailed description of required duties in addition to job hours, pay range and any additional pertinent information. Every applicant should be held to the same set of expectations, leaving them with a solid sense of what the job entails and whether they are qualified to apply.

Job Posting and Application Process

Make it clear to employees that all open positions will be communicated simultaneously externally and internally. Your internal job posting should not differ from that which you've posted externally. Fairness is critical when posting open positions. The same balance should be practiced regarding the application process, requiring your current employees to apply in the same manner as external applicants. Giving unfair advantage to outside candidates could garner costly discrimination lawsuits for your business.

The Selection Process

Your decision to hire someone outside your company should be completely objective, a process your hiring policies will facilitate. You want to avoid any claims of unfair treatment or discrimination, and this can be achieved by applying your policies consistently across the board. HR personnel must be able to back up the decision to hire externally, showing why the external candidate is indeed best qualified for the job. Your internal applicants will need some communication about why they weren't selected, in spite of being qualified. This discussion should be respectful and informative. The employee should be given the means to further her employment development, which may lead to being considered for future job openings.