Internal talent mobility: Types, benefits, and best practices

Internal talent mobility: Types, benefits, and best practices

When hiring for open positions, you may be overlooking a pool of qualified candidates: your current employees. An internal talent mobility structure allows you to look within when filling positions in your organization. This strategy can benefit your business in many ways, leading to cost savings and higher employee retention. Explore this guide to internal talent mobility to learn about the types of programs you can implement, the benefits of this strategy, and some best practices to implement to ensure successful internal hiring.

What is internal talent mobility?

Internal talent mobility, also known simply as talent mobility, is a management and development strategy focused on transitioning employees into new roles within an organization. It may occur when an employee advances into a higher position or moves into a new role in another department. Rather than hiring external candidates, internal talent mobility allows you to use your existing workforce to fill open positions. Typically, employers make these decisions based on various factors, including current employees' skills and career goals.

Types of internal talent mobility structures

You can use different types of mobility structures to promote internal hiring. Here are the most common ones:


In a vertical structure, employees transition into higher positions within the same company. This type of internal mobility may involve promoting employees to new roles within their current department. For example, an IT specialist may become an IT manager.


A horizontal talent mobility structure is when employees move laterally into a new position at the same level as their current role but with different responsibilities. For example, a marketing writer may move to a new position as a social media marketing specialist.


Cross-functional talent mobility occurs when you move an employee to a new role in a different department or business unit. For example, a customer service agent may transition into a sales position. Often, employers use cross-functional talent mobility to address changes in their business or industry. This type of internal talent mobility can help build an agile workforce.

Benefits of internal talent mobility

While creating an internal talent mobility structure can take time and effort as hiring managers adapt to be more agile, the benefits of these programs can be significant. Here are some top advantages of implementing a talent mobility program in your organization:

Cost savings

A talent mobility program can help your business save money. When you hire internally, you don't need to spend money on recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees. While some internal candidates may require additional training for new roles, those costs are typically minimal compared with hiring externally. You can then use these cost savings for other business activities.

Lower hiring risks

When you hire internal candidates for new positions, you already know key details about their skills, job performance, and work ethic, and you understand how they engage and interact with other team members. Hiring current employees for open positions lowers the risks associated with external candidates.

Higher retention rates

Many employees want to work for companies that enable them to grow and advance. A recent study by the Pew Research Center identified a lack of advancement opportunities as one of the top reasons people left their jobs, second only to low pay. An internal talent mobility structure shows employees that they have a path for career progression in the company. As a result, it encourages them to stay, boosting employee retention rates.

"An internal talent mobility structure shows employees that they have a path for career progression in the company."

Improved engagement

Talent mobility programs allow employees to expand their skill sets, gain additional training, and learn from experienced employees. Employees who feel like they're working toward a goal tend to be more engaged in the workplace. This engagement is more important for employers than ever. Recent Gallup research showed that only 36% of employees in the United States felt engaged at work. Talent mobility can go a long way toward improving employee engagement for your business.

Expanded operations

If your business has plans to expand, internal talent mobility can be an essential part of those new operations. Hiring internally for those positions allows you to expand into new geographic locations and markets quickly. Those employees will also bring valuable knowledge about the business, its culture, and its mission into those expanded operations. While not all businesses use internal talent mobility for expansion, it can be useful for those who do.

Best practices for internal talent mobility programs

Internal talent mobility has many benefits for businesses. If you want to implement or improve an internal hiring strategy for your company, here are some best practices to consider:

Upskill employees

Prepare your employees for new jobs by providing them with opportunities to upskill. Offer continuous training, prioritize mentorship programs, and invest in educational programs, such as certification programs. Through training, employees can expand their skills so they're ready to apply for new internal positions when they become available. Upskilling can also motivate employees to learn new skills, potentially promoting career progression for people who otherwise may not have pursued a new role.

Promote the program

Ensure that you have buy-in from your leadership team for the internal talent mobility program. Explain the benefits of internal hiring for the organization and encourage department directors to communicate with their employees about the company's growth and advancement opportunities. You may also have employee groups that can get the word out about the program. Effective promotion can ensure that your top employees know about the opportunities available to them within the organization.

Hold development reviews

You probably already hold performance reviews for your employees. Consider adding development reviews to this cycle. A development review involves speaking with employees about their career goals and professional development. It encourages employees to think about what they want to achieve in their careers and how they can accomplish their goals. Development reviews also show employees that the company is invested in their professional growth, which helps them feel valued. When employees believe they have a future in the company, they're more likely to stay and apply for internal positions.

Emphasize the candidate experience

Just like when recruiting external candidates, emphasize the candidate experience to your internal candidates too. According to research by Gartner, only 27% of employees feel that their company clearly advertises internal positions. Make it easy for current employees to learn about and apply for open positions. Throughout the hiring process, provide timely feedback to internal candidates and express appreciation for their interest. If you hire another candidate, be respectful and maintain their privacy to show the employee that you value them.

Ask for feedback

Seek feedback from employees as you implement a talent mobility program. Use tools such as development surveys or questionnaires to identify the types of opportunities employees want. When hiring for a position, ask internal applicants about their experience, including the application and interview process, and use this feedback to continuously improve your internal talent mobility structure.

An internal talent mobility program can have many advantages for your business, from cost savings to improved employee engagement to higher retention. When starting a talent mobility program, follow a strategy to engage employees and gain support. Over time, a strong internal talent mobility strategy can help you build a highly skilled, engaged, and enthusiastic workforce of individuals ready to grow within your organization.

More tips on attracting and retaining top talent:

Want even more tips for internal hiring? Check out these strategies to find and hire internal candidates for open positions.

When hiring for upper-level positions, it can be difficult to find qualified candidates. Here are three advantages of promoting from within your organization.

Your current employees make not only good candidates but also good recruiters. Use these tactics to engage employees to build a successful employee referral program.

Existing team members are one source of untapped talent. Find out the other areas where you can expand your recruiting strategies to find the best candidates for the job.

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