The need for Internal Talent Mobility

Changing market dynamics are putting a high pressure on the business environment. Competition is steadily increasing, businesses are facing economic and operational changes, new inventions in the fields of technology and automation, as well as a new generation of employees with different needs and expectations. All those aspects lead to new ways of working and thus new jobs and skills requirements.

But how does a company get the right people for the new jobs that arise? In the past, most companies turned to external hiring. Here are some reasons why this is not a sufficient strategy anymore:

  1. External recruiting can be very costly. For example, many companies experienced a situation where they hired an external expert via an agency at high costs, while at the same time an experienced employee, who would have been the perfect fit for the job, left the company. Adding to that are all the costs related to the rest of the acquisition process all the way to onboarding.
  2. One of the main reasons why employees leave their jobs is the lack of growth opportunities. This will only increase with the generation entering the job market, adept of “job hopping”. The need for retaining employees by enabling growth within the organization is becoming crucial for sustainable business success.
  3. Jobs and skill needs are evolving rapidly, especially due to technological change, while finding the right candidate externally can take a lot of time, the gap of positions to fill will keep on growing if alternative sources for talent are not used.

According to a LinkedIn study from 2020, 73% of organizations said that internal recruiting was becoming increasingly important to their company. Internal recruiting rates have gone up by 10% compared to 2015. However, many companies still struggle to make their internal mobility programs work.

What is currently standing in the way of internal talent mobility?


Few organizations have total visibility over their employees’ capabilities, for some of these reasons:

  • Classifying skills and relationships between them is difficult, especially since they also change over time,
  • There is no real process of recording skills and keeping them up-to-date,
  • Capabilities of employees are only recorded in relation to initial hiring and job profiles, not gathered expertise in later projects or in private environments.
  • Only skills linked to an employee’s current job are looked at and not the ability to grow and learn new ones.

This leads companies to resort to costly external recruiting instead of addressing the gaps with learning opportunities, missing-out on great talent that they already have.


  • Employees often lack information regarding open positions and needed skills, making it difficult for them to identify opportunities,
  • The link between open positions and an employee’s career path (what is possible, how to get there…) is not always made clear to employees,
  • The efforts put on promoting positions externally are much higher than for promoting internally.
  • Systems and administrative procedures can create and unindented barrier to internal talent mobility. For example, departments using different systems can lead to high IT efforts.
  • and changes after a transfer, making the company less likely to encourage talent mobility. Another example are policies such as rules that employees can only change jobs within the organization after a number of years in one role, forcing employees to look elsewhere when they want to make a change.


  • Internal mobility is still perceived negatively in some cases. Changing departments or teams is sometimes seen as “being disloyal”, making employees unlikely to remain in an organization when they want to make a career change. This often happens when organizations grow (through a merger or an acquisition for example), where the company is not really seen as “one” and the employees are reluctant to move between units.
  • The view of an internal candidate’s skills is often biased towards what they are doing in their current job. If they have skills that they are not using in their job, those can often be seen as non-existing or not valid. This leads to employees obtaining jobs at another company based on those skills that are overseen.


  • There is no agile approach to talent. People are often assigned to one function (HR, Marketing, Finance…) and hiring managers don’t necessarily consider the ability of talent to move between functions. The only way to move is vertically within one’s silo.
  • Managers also often want to “hold-on” to talent that they have helped grow and develop, making it difficult for talent to take on new opportunities.


  • In some companies, only lateral transfers (within one level) are possible. Pushing employees to leave the organization to gain more experience and then come back to a higher-level position.
  • Unconsolidated levelling/grading (often the case for global companies) leads to inconsistencies in compensation within the organization. This can demotivate for example employees to transfer if that means they would downgrade despite having the same experience level.

We will soon publish another article to give tips about how to improve internal talent mobility within your organization. Stay tuned!

Overall, internal talent mobility remains difficult for organizational, operational, and cultural reasons. However, with a clearly defined strategy, a consolidated job architecture, simplified processes, supported culture of change and with the right technology, internal talent mobility can be achieved and will be on of the greatest competitive advantages for organizations.