Have you ever seen a position filled at your company and thought, "Hey, I would like to have known about that one!" When to post a position and when to just fill one with your choice of personnel is a slippery slope for managers. While regulations for posting open positions is stricter in the government sector, that's not the case with privately owned companies. There is no law requiring private sector employers to post jobs.
However, according to Mary Ann Masarech, BostonWorks.com's "Ask an Expert" columnist, posting jobs is still a best practice corporations should exercise because:
"A consistent, well-publicized job posting process benefits both organizations and employees. It fosters an environment of opportunity and encourages employee-driven career management. When employees inquire about or apply for new positions, organizations can take stock of the interest and abilities of its workforce and be more strategic in cultivating talent."
A very good point. There's nothing worse than not even being considered for an internal position that you know you could do well. This certainly would put a dent in any lateral company moves in a company. What if some guy in accounting is an IT whiz and wants to apply for a position in that area but the hiring boss has never heard of him? Unless there is a formal posting process, those types of opportunities are lost.
Having said that, however, there can be problems with formally posting positions. First, the process itself can be long and drawn out for an enlightened manager who already knows who among his staff is really the most qualified for a position. Good managers know the strengths and weaknesses of their staff members. The process of posting a job and then going through a series of interviews is frustrating, both for the manager and for the person who could become aware he is just going through the motions.
Of course, bad managers don't know the strengths and weaknesses of their people. So there's another opportunity for abuse of the system. For example, I was once interested in an open position at a company but the VP who wrote the job description was so specific in the listed requirements that he all but used the preferred candidate's initials. That was a case of a manager pretending to follow the course but really ensuring the outcome at the onset.
I've been on both sides of this fence. What has your experience been?
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.