Succession Planning: Think Ahead to Maximize Internal Recruiting

There’s no doubt about it: hiring is becoming more competitive every day. Many organizations are focusing on growth, but there’s only so much skilled talent to go around. Succession planning can help you fill your talent pipeline with strong internal talent, so you can make the most of the workforce you already have. The trick is getting great talent into your organization early in their careers, and developing them into the future leaders your organization needs.

Begin with college recruiting

In order for succession planning and internal recruitment to work at your organization, you need great talent working at your organization—even in your entry-level roles. Get the best and the brightest talent into your organization, before they’re even on the candidate market, with college recruiting. Seventy one percent of organizations agree that collaborating with colleges and universities strengthens their talent pipeline. However, the most effective college recruiting strategies are the least often used. Those include training programs, apprenticeships, internships, co-ops, and mentoring. These strategies will allow you to assess college students for their skills, ability to learn, and culture-fit, so that you can get the best talent into your entry-level roles. Then, you’ll have a solid starting point for internal recruitment as your employees gain skills and experience.

Create a career path for each employee

Sit down with each of your new employees early on, and ask about their career goals and ambitions. Where do they see themselves in 5 years? How about 10 years, and 40 years? Think about how that aligns with your organization’s strategic workforce plan, and come up with a realistic—and mutually beneficial—career path for each employee. This should be mapped with a professional development plan to help employees prepare for their future roles. Then, check in with your employees often to track their progress, and whether their career goals have changed. When 45 percent of people leave their job due to lack of opportunities for advancement, you will be able to better retain your best talent.

Develop succession plans for your leadership team

Your organization’s leaders will eventually vacate their roles, whether due to an internal promotion, an opportunity outside your company, or retirement. In fact, the average tenure for a C-suite executive is just over five years. Depending on the circumstances, you may be left without enough notice to fill a leadership role before the employee leaves. Career pathing and succession planning can mitigate this risk. Think about the employees that would be best suited for each of your leadership roles, and help them prepare for those roles well in advance. Ideally, when a leadership role opens up, you will already have one or more internal candidates ready to step up—even if just in the interim. You can certainly also interview external candidates for each of your leadership roles; just be sure to set that expectation with your internal candidates so they don’t feel slighted.

Final thoughts

Succession planning is a strategic way to help you fill your roles with high-quality talent, faster. It can also help you retain the talent you’ve worked so hard to recruit. However, you will need to partner with key stakeholders in order to make it work. You will need executive buy-in and budget for college recruiting, career pathing, employee development, and succession planning. Perhaps more importantly, you will need hiring manager buy-in so they will take an active role in developing their direct reports, even when they may very well be training their future replacements. This is a long-term game, and not likely something talent acquisition leaders can execute on their own—but the potential payoff is well worth starting the conversation internally.