Employee Promotion Process

by Daniel R. Mueller; Updated September 26, 2017

Without a clear company criteria in place for promotion, the decision of who gets to advance in the ranks and when can seem arbitrary to other workers. Favoritism, be it real or perceived, has a deleterious effect on employee morale and productivity, creating a rift between labor and management. On the other hand, if a company has a clear criteria laid out that it follows for promoting from within, it may actually improve productivity, since it will give workers a clear goal to strive for.

Promotion Candidate Sourcing and Corporate Culture

The promotion process and whether candidates are considered from within has a direct effect on management's relationship with front-line workers. Some companies create a culture of intellectual elitism. Companies do this by ignoring management candidates from the lower tiers of employment within the company in favor of hiring new college or university graduates. Ideally, a company should attempt to create an environment that rewards both long-term commitment and loyalty as well as a college education by selecting candidates from both origins. This may require some added investment in worker skills through continuing education programs. Setting a promotion criteria framework in place will require a careful review of position requirements in a comparison against available candidates within the company. In some cases, there simply is not an individual with the skills necessary to fill a new position, in which case external hiring is both necessary and acceptable.

Pre-Candidate Selection Promotion Considerations

Before choosing the best candidate, the company needs to decide if the position up for grabs will be available for internal promotion first or open for external bids. Positions that require simple or intermediate skill levels can be simultaneously opened to competitive applicants both within and outside the organization, since such positions favor neither experience or education.

Choosing an Internal Promotion Candidate

The most important criteria to judge an internal candidate on is his commitment to the organization, along with reliable productivity. However, an internal candidate should still submit a letter of query to human resources along with any updates to the resume, particularly where additional education obtained in off hours is concerned. If the internal candidate proves unsuitable after a probationary short-term promotion, allow him to return to his previous position if possible and seek an outside candidate or another promotion from within.

Selecting an Outside Candidate in Lieu of an Internal Promotion

When judging an exterior candidate, the first thing to look at is the resume and cover letter. A strong cover letter may indicate enthusiasm for the specific position available, but the underlying resume is just as important, if not more. When reviewing the resume of an outside candidate, try to find inconsistencies such as gaps in employment and excessive career changes, which can be a red flag. While exterior candidate education is important, it may make more sense to invest money training a loyal employee; however, taking a similar gamble on an outsider may prove foolhardy in the long term.

About the Author

Daniel R. Mueller is a Canadian who has been writing professionally since 2003. Mueller's writing draws on his extensive experience in the private security field. He also has a professional background in the information-technology industry as a support technician. Much of Mueller's writing has focused on the subjects of business and economics.