Does HR Have to Post Job Openings Internally?

An Employer Has Reasons Why They Might Want to Post Internal Openings

Woman carries her office things to he new internal job because she responded to her employer's job posting.
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Must your Human Resources department post jobs internally to notify potential candidates that your organization has a job opening? In most cases, this is not required by any laws, but it may be a requirement in a union contract or for a civil service or government position. In these instances posting the job or promoting employees by seniority is often required.

Employers need to clearly state their policies about internal posting in their employee handbook.

This ensures that alI employees are up-to-date on what they can expect if they apply for an internal opening.  

If the workforce is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, it is likely that all job posting requirements are clearly spelled out in the agreement and they usually give preference by seniority and other bargained factors.

In the civil service, employees advance by taking examinations and internal job posting is required for many positions to provide opportunities for current employees. Executive positions, which are often appointees of the current state or Federal elected leadership, are not required to follow civil service guidelines. The civil service does post jobs that are for public application.

Private Sector Employers and Internal Job Posting

If a private sector employer is not governed by a contract with an employee or a union, you are free to publicize openings internally – or not.

But, there are many reasons why a policy that favors initial internal posting is your preferred choice.

Employers of choice who attract and retain superior employees are focused on providing career development opportunities for current employees. This means that internal openings are publicized first or simultaneously for internal applicants.

The chance to continue to grow their skills, experience, and career is one of the five most significant factors that employees want from their employer.

  • Internal job postings enable employees to pursue career paths within their current organizations. According to a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) survey, approximately five of the factors that employees were dissatisfied with in their current organizations involved career planning and career development opportunities.

    Employees want and deserve the opportunity to continue to grow and develop their skills. Employers need to provide opportunities for career growth or lose employees to an employer who will.
  • They create a company culture in which employees feel as if they have opportunity. This culture is more likely to contribute to employee retention and engagement. If an external candidate usually gets the opportunity, you will lose your best employees. They will move to a company where they perceive they will have opportunities for ongoing growth.
  • An internal application process allows employees to showcase their talents and skills during the interview process. This gives more employees across the organization the chance to know each other and to think of each other when particular knowledge and skills are required.

    Organizations want to understand the skills, talents, and competencies of the people they employ. There is no better showcase than the internal job posting, application, and interview process.

In summary, except in the instances noted, primarily union collective bargaining agreements, a private sector employment contract, and government employees, employers do not have a legal obligation to post jobs internally.

But if they fail to post opportunities for current employees, they will cause employee dissatisfaction, apathy, low morale, and a revolving door for employees heading out to new and better opportunities.

Should Employees Apply for Internal Openings?

In a word, yes. While most employers limit the job movement of new employees, many employers are willing to consider an employee for a new opportunity at six months or a year into their current job. For all of the reasons listed in the above bullet points, employees will want to showcase their talents and skills.

They want HR, coworkers, and managers to get to know them better so that opportunities for personal and career growth and development will come their way. This is good for the organization and a must happen for employees.

Read More About Hiring: Hiring Checklist | A Checklist for Interviewing Potential Employees


Susan Heathfield makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice both on this website, and linked to from this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality, and is not to be construed as legal advice.

The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. The information on this site is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only.

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