Does HR Have to Post Job Openings Internally?

Reasons Exist Why Employers Might Want to Post Internal Openings—First

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, posting internal vacancies are not required by any employment laws, but it may be a requirement in a union contract or for a civil service or government position. In these instances posting internal vacancies or promoting employees by seniority is often required by a contract.

What Is the Policy About HR's Obligation to Post Job Openings?

Employers need to clearly state their policies about how they will handle their internal job postings in their employee handbook. This ensures that all employees are up-to-date on what they can expect if they apply for an internal vacancy. This is important so that your employees perceive your organization as a provider of career development and success opportunities for employees.

For example, your internal policy may state that any employee who has worked in their current job for six months or more is eligible to apply for any job opening. You will also usually find that the current manager of the employee who wishes to apply for an internal job opening must be notified and give their consent before the employee may apply. (This saves your organization time if the employee's work is currently unacceptable.)

The policy may also state that the employer has the option to post the job openings both internally and externally, depending on the skills and experience needed for the job. Employers do this when they want to see who is available in the job market who will supplement their current staff. Or, they post jobs internally and externally simultaneously when the employer is fairly certain that they don't have the skills needed available internally.

Must Employers Post Internal Vacancies in Union Represented or Civil Service Workplaces? 

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. So, selecting the most qualified applicant is often not an option.

In the civil service, employees advance by taking examinations and the 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.

Why Might Employers Want to Post Internal Job Vacancies?

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. Employers who are dedicated and committed to developing their current employees will post internal vacancies whether or not these postings are required by employment law for these reasons.

Career Paths for Employees

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 within 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.

A Culture That Provides Career Growth Opportunities

They create a company culture in which employees feel as if they have the opportunity for career growth. 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.

Allows Employees to Showcase Their Skills

An internal application process allows your 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. This is especially important when a group is identifying key players for a cross-functional team or project.

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.

Managers Learn About the Organization's Available Talent

  • Managers want to have a better understanding of the skills and talents of employees from other departments and across the organization, too. This allows the organization to do more effective succession planning, lateral moves, and transfers to other departments and jobs. It provides managers with potential candidates whom they may want to recruit or hire to build a strong team.

You Build Your Reputation As an Employer of Choice

  • If you're seeking to attract the best employees to employment opportunities in your organization, you need to develop the street reputation with potential candidates that employees have career development options with your organization. This is one significant factor in why a preferred candidate may decide to work for you. With social media, sites like, and professional associations, your reputation as an employer is built by word-of-mouth from one employee at a time. 

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.

The Bottom Line

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 | The Best Interview Questions for Employers to Ask

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and ​employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.