Must HR Post Job Openings Externally?

Certain Workplaces Have Requirements but Most Don't

Businesswoman taking an interview of an African American woman
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Must your human resources department post jobs outside the company to notify potential candidates of a job opening? It depends on the nature of the business and whether the employer is bound by a contractual obligation to publicize the opening.

Contract Exceptions

In the private sector, when no collective bargaining or other contract exists, employers are not required to post jobs externally on sites such as, Monster or LinkedIn. That gives them time to think through each job opening and look at current employees who might fit before advertising to outside candidates.

When a contract exists, it typically spells out the rules for posting jobs. To follow the law, employers must adhere to the contractual provisions as written. The rules may, for example, require posting jobs and promotional opportunities to all existing employees so everyone has an opportunity to apply.

The same goes for federal employment governed by the civil service. It has strict requirements for competitive examinations, hiring, and career advancement that are designed for fairness. External posting is not a requirement, but most federal jobs are posted in the USAJOBS database. State and local level civil service positions have similar websites, although nothing requires posting in a job listing database.

Employer Considerations

Generally, employers need to consider these factors in deciding whether or not to make an external job posting:

  • Qualified internal candidates: ​If strong internal job candidates exist, why spend the money or time reviewing external candidates? Why risk embroiling the organization in a discrimination or other lawsuit? Just interview each of the internal candidates and select one. An exception may be if the affirmative action plan requires external job postings to attract diverse candidates.
  • Employee Handbook ​policy: Whatever the policy, it should be consistent and spelled out in the handbook. When qualified candidates exist, it can be a good idea to post the job internally first. If that's unsure, employers should post internally and externally, or the search for an employee could take months. Employers must practice consistent, written policies and procedures when hiring.
  • True strength of ​candidates: Sometimes, posting jobs externally attracts a superstar who would bring superior performance to the job. Also, job applications that come in let you compare the skills and experience of any internal candidates with the outside market.
  • Goal of the hire: If the goal is to fill a position with a qualified internal employee, don’t post jobs externally. But, if the goal is to bring new knowledge and skills into the organization, then hiring a qualified, experienced outsider will bring the knowledge to your organization faster.
  • Opportunity perception: Employees want to believe that if they work hard and contribute, they will be eligible for internal promotion and job transfers. They must see other employees getting these opportunities or the best will eventually leave. Exhibit a culture of opportunity. If it’s been a while since an internal candidate got an open job, consider the message employees are receiving. The opportunity for career development is one of five employee must-haves at work.


The content on this site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality, and is not to be construed as legal advice. The site has a worldwide 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.