Internal Passive Candidate Engagement: Building a Culture of Internal Mobility

Chances are, if you feel a lack of opportunity in your current position – upward or laterally – you would likely consider other career opportunities outside your company. You may even pursue them.

The job market in most parts of the world is teeming with these very opportunities. In North America, the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in decades, and here in the U.K. it’s at its lowest point since 1975, at just 4.0%.

Wherever they are in the world, employees are exposed to a multitude of opportunities. So, what is your company doing to ensure employees are considering moves inside your four walls?

Encouraging employees to expand and develop their careers within an organisation – and offering clearly defined career path options – can help decrease turnover and prevent the loss of valuable employees (and company information) to competitors.

According to Oxford Economics and Income Protection Providers, Unum, staff turnover costs British businesses more than £4 billion every year. Not to mention, the cost of time – the time it takes to recruit, train and ramp up new employees, all of which impacts productivity and an organisation’s bottom line. Just like customers, it’s much more cost effective for companies to retain the employees they already have.

Four Tips to Tap into Your Internal Talent Pool

1. Create a culture that supports internal mobility.

There’s never a perfect time for someone to leave a position, whether it’s inside or outside the company. Work may be disrupted, a position needs to be backfilled and, sometimes, even feelings may be hurt.

A company whose culture embraces internal mobility knows this especially well – and plans for it. Instead of policies and procedures that inhibit people from growing and moving within the organisation, they create their own internal feeder pools where people can opt-in to be considered for new opportunities. True internal mobility is a “top down” movement, where there are no roadblocks to internal career paths.

Consider a flagging system, usually hosted within HR, where employees can raise their hands to be considered for internal positions without being penalised for doing so. Culturally speaking, it is especially important that employees are supported in their efforts to make career moves, and that policies and procedures back them when they do.

2. Define recruitment best practices that facilitate mobility.

Does your organsation have HR professionals focusing on mobility, i.e. internal mobility recruiters, a mobility team or policies to focus on cross-divisional moves? If not, this is a good place to start.

Before going externally, advertise roles internally first. Included in your recruitment best practices should be a step to internally headhunt high performers and other employees of interest. In addition to a flagging system, where internal employees can raise their hands to be considered for newly opened roles, ensure your recruiters have access so they can identify high performers and target them for new roles or areas of promotion – both within their current department, and outside of it.

3. Put development programmes in place.

Employees are more likely to stay with an organisation they feel invests in them. Focused training and opportunities to cross-train not only build a better and more skilled workforce, but they also prepare people for other jobs within the company.

Learning and development programmes are critical to backfilling roles as people move up and around the enterprise – but not all training efforts have to cost money or be formal. Mentorships and affinity groups are also great retention tools and allow people to seek out and identify like-minded colleagues to work with and learn from.

These programmes can double as a great source of new ideas for the company, while grooming the next generation of company leaders.

4. Create a culture of collaboration.

Aligning talent across divisions, whether by a domain, skill set or geography, creates opportunities for employees to move across the enterprise, and promotes employee loyalty and engagement.

Building this kind of cross-divisional, cross-functional collaboration creates a workforce with greater skill and deeper understanding of the company and its goals. Connected workers can more holistically and effectively approach and resolve company challenges than when they work in silos. By enabling disparate employees to work on projects together, they also become more aware of the opportunities that exist in other divisions, departments and regions

Tools like Skype for Business, Yammer or Microsoft Teams – or even a simple intranet – enable information to be more readily shared and socialised throughout the enterprise. Having the right technology in place improves time to productivity for cross-divisional teams but also serves as a critical platform for internal opportunities to be shared.


The unemployment rate around the world is low and the number of opportunities is high. Employment branding, therefore, is not just about getting people in the door – it’s about getting people to stay and to grow. The brand continuum, where it’s easy for people to see adjacent opportunities, is vital to retaining good talent. That’s why a culture that embraces internal mobility isn’t just about fluidity – it’s about improving every employee’s capability and skill set.

Organisations with a strong internal mobility culture – and the tools and processes to manage it effectively – are far more likely to have not just the most engaged employees, but also the most skilled and productive.