Last February, Gallup reported that 51 percent of U.S. employees were searching for new jobs or watching new job openings. That same month, U.S. employers were trying to fill 5.7 million job openings. Talk about a chocolate-and-peanut-butter moment: Companies have lots of new jobs, and lots of their employees want new jobs. It’s a tailor-made setup for internal mobility.
There’s one hitch, however. Even though Bersin research reveals internal mobility is one of the top three differentiators of a successful, mature talent acquisition capability, it also finds that fully three-quarters of companies have only rudimentary internal mobility programs. In fact, most companies don’t do the following: 
- Provide clear career paths for existing employees
- Post jobs internally
- Ensure recruiter access to the internal labor pool
It’s ironic: A company’s strongest job candidates may already be under its roof. These internal candidates are trusted, talented employees who have already been through the organization’s performance management system. They are higher performers, more adaptable, and less expensive to find and place in new jobs than are external candidates. And yet, most companies are ignoring them—and, worse, losing them to competitors.
How can this situation be remedied? We offer three suggestions for our readers and will explore them in more detail in the year ahead:
- Adopt internal mobility as a principle of organizational culture. Internal mobility is tricky. Employees who try to identify new roles within their companies can find themselves navigating a maze in which a wrong step can harm their career prospects. For example, trying to find a new job can suggest dissatisfaction with their current position, and finding a new job can leave their current boss and colleagues in the lurch. Sometimes, it’s easier to leave a company altogether than move around within it.
To support internal mobility, companies will first need to destigmatize it. To do that, they should create and champion cultural tenets to support career mobility for every employee. Such a culture would properly value the enhanced skills, engagement levels, and networks that accrue to employees—and their employers—when internal mobility is encouraged. Also, it would discourage talent-hoarding by managers.
- Create accessible paths to internal talent. We’ve heard far too many stories of talent acquisition (TA) professionals diligently searching external talent pools and discovering the perfect candidate, who turns out to be a company employee, for them to all be untrue. These incidents occur because most companies don’t provide the TA function with access to existing employees.
Companies need to include employees in a passive talent pool, so that recruiters can search internally, as well as externally, for the best job candidates. Getting employees into the candidate relationship management platform may be challenging, but it’s hard to imagine that employees wouldn’t be happy to create and update their own profiles in return for a shot at new career opportunities.
An even easier way to gain access to internal candidates is to post jobs internally before posting them externally as a matter of policy. This may seem obvious, but a surprising number of companies don’t take this simple step.
- Adopt some internal hiring targets. “What gets measured gets done” is an old saying, but it’s still around because it’s mostly true. So, companies should consider a hiring target for internal mobility.
That said, the quest for internal mobility should not be taken to extremes. Hiring only entry-level people from external sources and moving only current employees up through the organization is a numbing insular prescription for talent and performance. Companies need infusions of external talent at all levels. The secret is to avoid either extreme and to seek a well-considered mix of internal and external hires.
The case for internal mobility is a sound one. It pays off in an enhanced employer brand: Employees want to work for companies that offer them diverse opportunities. Employees can seek engaging work without quitting, and engaged employees are productive employees. And it can benefit companies financially by lowering recruiting costs, reducing new-hire turnover, and improving retention rates.
Every day from January 16 through January 26, Bersin will be sharing perspectives on the most timely, relevant, and interesting developments for HR professionals to watch in 2018. Check back every day, or visit bersin.com on January 29 for a consolidated report with all of the predictions.
 “Are Your Star Employees Slipping Away?” Gallup News / Jim Harter and Amy Adkins, February 24, 2017, http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/204248/star-employees-slipping-away.aspx.
 “Job Openings and Labor Turnover—February 2017,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 11, 2017, www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/jolts_04112017.htm.
 High-Impact Talent Acquisition, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, and Denise Moulton, 2018.