Should we bring in new talent to fill roles, or develop in-house talent?

Posted on 21st August 2019

One question we get asked quite a lot within the HR team is whether we recruitment for our clients. The answer is one of those annoying responses of “yes and no”!  By this I mean we do not do the actual recruiting which I’ll explain shortly, but what we do is offer advice to help the client establish what the need actually is and the best way of fulfilling this.

So, when I say that we don’t do the recruiting, we’re not a recruitment agency and have no intention of ever offering this as a service.  To be a good recruitment agency, that needs to be the sole purpose of the business with people highly skilled in recruitment.  We work with many of the best recruiters across the UK (and beyond) so if you’re reading this thinking, I needed help with recruitment, do give us a call and we can point you in the right direction.

What we do is work with clients to help think positions through rather than rushing into recruiting, particularly if somebody is leaving unexpectedly and the client is in a little bit of a panic about how they’re going to cover the work.  We encourage clients to spend time thinking through what the business really needs, so rather than just recruiting the exact same role with a similar person, is this a good time to have a look at the role and will you need the same again?  It may be that with time to think, clients realise what they need is something different and this is their chance to make the change.

The next question we are frequently asked is would it be better to recruit and bring in new talent or should you train the people you already have?  As a business that is 50% based around developing people, in particular managers, you would assume our answer would always be “develop in-house” but we know it’s not always that simple.  In this blog I am going to share with you the three main factors to consider before you make the decision to recruit or train within.

How much time do you have?

This has to be the key factor; it is about practicality and what is possible whilst keeping a business going and operating smoothly.  If you’ve got the time to train somebody in-house then this is a great option and improves employee engagement and commitment to your business.  As we all know, developing skills and career development is one of the main drivers of employee engagement and you will keep team members longer, if they know they are working for a business where there is always opportunities to progress and they are not stuck in the same job forever, and to progress they would need to go elsewhere.

However, it is not just the time to train someone (and the trainer’s time) but also how quickly you need the person in that role to be “up to speed” and performing.  In some cases, you need someone to be able to “hit the ground running” from day one, and if this is the case then recruiting externally is likely to be your best option.

Is there potential in-house?

You can only develop in-house if you know what skills and potential is within the existing team, but also crucially what their goals and aspirations are.  Just because you would rather “grow your own”, if there is no-one in the current team that wants to develop those skills, you are back to square one.   It is therefore crucial for talent management, and of course all aspects of good people management, that you know your teams and what they are capable of and have a desire for.

Both our HR team and training team work with clients to look at succession planning and career pathways, so that a business has a steady stream of people at different levels developing their skills and experience, to be able to step up (or indeed across) to new roles when the opportunity arises.

There is also likely to be times when there are simply not the skills or potential in-house.  This may be a very specialist role, a very senior role or sometimes simply a role that the next person is not ready for just yet, and you need to recruit someone new.  Here we would nearly always suggest that you go to an agency, probably a specialist agency, to find the person that you need – and as mentioned we work with some of the best so please ask us who can help you.

Do you need some diversity?

By this I certainly do not mean in terms of the demographics of your workforce; if you need some advice and help on this, then that is a completely different topic (but one we can also help with).  What I mean is, do you need an injection of new ideas, new experience and a fresh approach?  Sometimes when you have a very stable team that has worked together for a long time, they can get stuck in their ways, and someone new can bring a fresh set of eyes to the business.

You may want to actively recruit for someone with different experience within the industry, sector or profession.  Someone who will bring in new ideas, new ways of working and of course contacts and their network.

In conclusion, therefore, as is so often the case, there are pros and cons of recruiting from outside and developing in-house.  There are also situations that lend themselves more to one than the other.  Developing people in-house has huge benefits for employee engagement and your reputation as an employer; and in the long run can be more cost effective.  However, if you need to fill a role quickly, you don’t have those skills in-house, or perhaps you need that injection of new experience and new talent then external recruitment is your answer.

If you would like to discuss any of the above further please give us a call on 01536 215240 or email

Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director