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You know they’ll be a good cultural fit. They have more knowledge of your company than any other candidate. Their time-to-productivity is guaranteed to be lightning quick. They want to build a career, not just find a job. And they want to do it with you. So why are you ignoring them?

That may sound like a “unicorn” candidate, but the truth is, they really do exist. And you already have droves of them, just waiting for your call. Sounds like a recruiters’ dream; is it any coincidence a group of unicorns is called a blessing? (Yes, really). Yet shockingly, 9 out of 10 of these candidates report their employers aren’t really giving them compelling reasons to stay, and the last time they changed jobs, they had to leave their company to do so.

These unicorns are your current employees.

So why are so many companies unknowingly letting go of their unicorns—and what can talent acquisition teams do to give this narrative a fairytale ending?


The High Cost of Ignoring Your Talent Mobility Strategy

Internal talent mobility—the process of moving existing employees across roles, functions or geographies—is certainly nothing new to HR and talent acquisition leaders. Filling job vacancies with internal talent—either via promotion, lateral move, transfer or relocation—is a proven way to meet both your employees’ needs for continued growth and development and the needs of the business.

The benefits of internal hiring are compelling: reduced time-to-hire, lower cost-per-hire, and improved quality of hire. Research shows that the average cost of finding and hiring someone from outside the company is 1.7 times more than an internal hire. And between 40 and 60 percent of external hires aren’t successful, compared to only 25 percent for internal hires.

But there are also profound negative consequences of ignoring this hidden job market. Today, 71 percent of your employees are actively looking for a new job. Your employees are looking for a change; wouldn’t you rather it be with your company? Without a successful internal talent mobility strategy, the risk of losing your top performers is unnecessarily high. To avoid this, companies should focus just as much (if not more) on their internal recruitment marketing efforts as they are on their external initiatives.


Role of Recruitment Marketing in Driving a Culture of Internal Mobility

Despite the reasons hiring from within usually beats hiring from the outside, recruitment marketing efforts are often primarily—if not exclusively—focused on efforts to attract and engage external candidates.

Only 30 percent of organizations are using employer branding to retain internal employees. Let that sink in for a minute. The focus on and investment in employer branding by talent acquisition leaders today is immense—and yet less than 1 in 3 are using those strategies to engage ideal candidates that sit in their own offices and seats. Given the benefits of internal hiring, shouldn’t we be leveraging those same recruitment marketing tactics to develop and support a healthy talent mobility program?


Here are three ways you can help drive a talent mobility mindset in your organization:


1. Communication

A lack of communication and transparency is often what holds organizations back from fully embracing—and benefitting from—internal hiring. Often, employees don’t even know about the talent opportunities that exist across the business. According to research by LinkedIn, 69 percent of HR and talent acquisition professionals in the U.S. said their internal talent mobility program is well-known among employees. Meanwhile, only 25 percent of employees said they were aware of their employer’s internal talent mobility programs. That’s a pretty different take depending on where you sit.

You have to make it easy for employees to understand what opportunities exist for advancement within your organization. Take a queue from Kaiser Permanente and send email announcements about new job openings to your employees one week prior to publicly posting the requisition. Hold regular internal networking events for employees to learn why—and how—others in the company have successfully made lateral and functional career moves. Reward and recognize lateral and functional moves just as you would a “move up” promotion.


2. Education

While employee communication is critical, it’s not enough. Sodexo, for example, found that to really create a talent mobility mindset they needed to do more than share information with employees—they also needed to address the organizational barriers to talent mobility.

Talent hoarding—when managers cling to their star employees, rather than providing opportunities for career development—is a major threat to your talent mobility efforts and, unfortunately, increasingly prevalent. According to research by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, talent-hoarding managers exist at half of the 665 global organizations surveyed. So how can HR and talent acquisition leaders inspire a mindset of talent mobility in managers?

Since managers play a starring role when it comes to opening and filling job vacancies, talent acquisition leaders should encourage managers—through education, incentivization, or a combination of both—to look internally first. It’s important to highlight why a manager and his or her team would benefit from internal recruitment, and why sourcing internally is a smart business move. It’s particularly helpful to first gain executive buy-in for your talent mobility program, so that this message is also reaching managers from the top-down.


3. Automation

Recruiting is a human business—and we humans are complex beings. We all have unique interests, preferences, skills, and aspirations. How can recruiters be expected to keep track of—and effectively market to—such a diverse audience of employees without the help of technology?

It’s important to consider how you can leverage automation to help you match employees with positions that best fit their skills and interests. A Fortune 100 company, for example, is using SmashFly’s Recruiting CRM to market job vacancies to their own employees. They collect data on employees’ interests through talent network forms, and SmashFly’s CRM then automatically personalizes and deploys email notifications to advertise opportunities internally based on the employees’ self-selected preferences. So, if a great designer on the marketing team is looking to move into UX, they’ll receive a customized job alert when the product management team has a UX position available.

Communication, education and automation are critical when it comes to elevating your internal talent mobility strategy. But it’s important to also think about internal talent mobility systemically—because even the best tactics and technology won’t get you very far if you haven’t built a culture that supports talent mobility. Creating a robust, thriving internal mobility strategy requires a shift in thinking at all levels across the organization. By leading the charge in shaping this smarter approach to recruiting, you can help talent acquisition make the leap from service provider to business partner and change leader.

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