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 externally to notify potential candidates that your organization has a job opening? In the private sector, when no collective bargaining or other contract exists, employers are not required to post jobs externally.

It means that employers have the opportunity to think through each job opening for current employees before advertising it.

When a contract exists, normally the rules the employer must follow for posting jobs are stated in the contract. To follow the law, employers need to adhere to the contractual provisions that, for example, may require posting jobs and promotional opportunities to all existing employees.

It is also true for state and Federal employment where the civil service has strict requirements for competitive examinations, hiring, and career advancement.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, "Only federal contractors obligated under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA), are required by regulation to post open positions."

Employer Considerations

Generally, in the private sector outside of these two scenarios, employers need to consider:

  • Whether You Have Qualified Internal Candidates. ​If internal job candidates, who are qualified exist, why spend the money or the time reviewing external candidates? Why risk embroiling your organization in a discrimination or other lawsuit? Just interview each of your internal candidates and select. The exception may be if your Affirmative Action Plan requires external job postings to attract diverse candidates.
  • What Their ​Employee Handbook ​Policy States. My recommendation, when qualified candidates exist, is to post the job internally first, and the policy should state this. If you are uncertain about qualified internal candidates, employers should post internally and externally, or the search for an employee could take months. Employers need to practice consistent, written policies and procedures when hiring.
  • Whether Your ​Internal Candidates are Truly Strong Contenders. ​Sometimes, if you post jobs externally, you may attract a superstar who would bring superior performance to your job. If nothing else, the job applications you receive allow you to compare the skills and experience of your internal candidates with the market.
  • The 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.
  • Perceived Opportunities Within Your Organization. Employees want to believe that if they work hard and contribute, that they will be eligible for internal promotion and job transfers. They must see employees obtaining these opportunities if you want to retain your best employees. You have to exhibit a culture of opportunity. If it’s been awhile since an internal candidate got the job, consider the message that the employees are receiving. The opportunity for career development is one of five employee must-haves at work.

    In summary, the decision to post jobs externally is usually not a requirement except in the exceptions noted. But, an employer might want to compare internal talent with the talent that is available in the marketplace.


    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 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.