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How Organizations Evaluate Internal Candidates for Future Opportunities

Tags:  Reputation, Performance reviews, Internet profiles

Anyone who believes that the information in their personnel file is only between them and their supervisor has never applied for a promotion or transfer.


What employees need to understand when they decide to venture outside their current position with an organization is that by applying for a different opportunity within the same company they open themselves up for the same type of scrutiny that an external candidate would face. The difference is that their work history for the last however-many years is readily available to their potential new supervisor.


Not that everything in a personnel file is available for view, just things like:

  • Attendance records
  • Work records
  • Performance evaluations
  • Recommendations from current and former supervisors
  • Complimentary letters
  • Written recognition or awards

The whole idea is that unlike external candidates where the new supervisor doesn't have the freedom to see detailed documents and talk to other managers, with an internal candidate he has at his fingertips the information necessary to help him make a better decision.

What does this mean to the promotion-minded employee?

They better keep their nose clean. Many organizations have specific guidelines on what behaviors and past indiscretions will prevent them from moving ahead in the ranks. Things like not meeting company standards of performance, not getting along with the boss or performance counseling records could all stand in the way of career success. And the potential new supervisor has a right to know how things have been going before making his decision.


This by no means should be construed as expecting every employee to be a little Stepford employee. Everyone has their off moments, days or weeks. However, remember that recruiters, and subsequently hiring managers, believe that past behavior is an indicator of future performance. So anyone who has a history of recurring issues – they do just the minimum amount required to get by, they're not really a team player, they have a difficult time meeting deadlines – is going to find it hard to get ahead as this information is part of their permanent record with the current employer.

What this means for career-minded employees is…

Work hard. This may just seem like a given, but it's amazing how many people walk through their job blindly figuring it really doesn't matter until one day they suddenly wake up and want something more. Often times by then it is too late. Don't let this happen. Do the best job possible and be proud.


Turn it around. If there have been problems in the past, now is the time to straighten it out. Investigate the company standards of performance, follow up with your supervisor about how to correct performance issues and start making a change for the better now. If the biggest issue is a personality conflict with the boss, talking to her may be the best bet if she sees an employee's transfer as her chance to eliminate the difficulty.


Move on. Sometimes all an employee can do is abandon ship. Of course, the problem is that if someone doesn't want to put in the effort, no matter where they go there will be problems. The good news is that many states have laws governing what information past employers can divulge about ex-employees, so hopefully someone who has decided to change won't be haunted by their past mistakes.


Remember: the best course of action is to always perform to the highest standard, that way whatever they know about you will only be the good things.

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