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Spotting and Honing Aspirational Potential

Carlos Acosta | 27.04.2021

As a hiring manager, one of the many crucial decisions to make is whether to hire internally or externally, especially for positions requiring a higher degree of experience or managerial expertise.

The value of hiring internally is that it’s not only cost- and time-efficient; it’s also a good opportunity to promote existing talent while boosting employee morale and retention in the process.

In the case of senior and/or middle management roles, advantages can be attained by hiring within the organization. An internal hire theoretically will have already been acclimated to the company culture, be emotionally invested in the organization and will have invested their time and talent in support of the employer brand.

Yet, how do you know whether a current employee is ready to advance to a higher role? You most likely know they aspire to greater responsibility and the perks that come with it, but is that enough to meet your needs for hire? As a hiring manager, how can you more actively hone management and leadership potential in your people? Is hiring from within your best choice?

Signs that a Current Employee Is Ready for Greater Responsibility

1. Fit for the position

Naturally, a candidate must be right for the position in all areas: experience, hard skills, soft skills, and cultural fit.

First off, you should assess whether a candidate is great at managing individual contributors. How is their relationship with their colleagues and subordinates? How have they performed when they were tasked to lead an initiative? These are some of the many questions to ask.

Ultimately, you would want to pick someone who could potentially become, or currently is, a good manager of managers.

2. Consistently delivers and performs

The keyword here is “consistently.” A strong candidate is one who has a proven track record to constantly deliver results for the organization. Job performance, as with the first point mentioned, is a key factor when determining whether an employee is ready to be promoted to a higher position.

Additionally, it’s also an essential skill for leaders and managers to deliver what they promised to deliver. Trustworthiness and integrity are two essential characteristics of a good leader, especially towards clients and partners.

3. Strong communication and people skills

For good potential leaders, communication skills are not just about conveying their message effectively and efficiently—it’s more about how they can build strong relationships with others.

This applies to both their subordinates and the clients they come in contact with. For the former, it goes without saying that it’s important for a potential manager or leader to have a good relationship with the people around them.

Client-wise, it makes business sense to build rapport and maintain strong client relationships, and it all boils down to having great communication and people skills.

4. Has good mentorship skills

One of the main challenges of hiring internally is that it creates a gap in the workforce, which is why it’s an important consideration that when you promote someone, their role has to be back-filled. What are the implications for this? Do you have someone you can also hire from within for that role?

In that same vein, an excellent candidate for a senior role is one who has good mentorship skills and has been taking someone under their wing to someday take their place should the opportunity present itself. Mentorship is also a good sign of humility and the ability to share their knowledge and skills with others.

HR’s Role in Supporting and Honing Leadership Potential

Advancing one’s career is a collective effort between the employee, their managers, and human resources. For HR, it’s essential to invest in programs for management and/or leadership training to better equip employees for those opportunities for internal promotion.

A few good ideas are:

Another key consideration in career advancement initiatives is recognizing cultural nuances when it comes to leadership. At The QualiFind Group, we have supported companies around the world in support of their professional and technical recruitment needs. The realities of an employee’s expectations and views on aspiration and motivation can be greatly influenced by the culture they have developed within as well as the education and experience attained.

We have found that different cultures have different approaches when it comes to management and leadership. For example, managers from Latin America, Japan, China, and South Korea tend to be “synchronized leaders”—those that are more prudent when making decisions. On the other hand, those from the US, UK, Germany, and New Zealand tend to be “opportunistic leaders”—those that are less risk-averse and who take more initiative.

Whether hiring internally or externally, it’s important to have a multicultural approach when it comes to career advancement and promotions in order to have a better assessment on job and culture fit. Here are some observations from some of our partners and colleagues:


In Canada, employer branding can be a factor contributing to a promotable pipeline of talent. Canadian companies of all sizes, and across industries, compete annually to make Canada’s Top 100 Companies to Work For List. A key common denominator of the companies that consistently make the list is the rigorous talent development programs they have in place. Programs range from internal self-directed learning portals and subsidizing advanced degrees to specialized programs for high achievers. As a result, these companies have a healthy pipeline of promotable staff, realize lower turnover, get more employment applications and enjoy higher staff engagement. When they do engage us for an external hire, it is a pleasure to recruit for companies with such strong employer brands.


Xochilt Acosta notes that Mexico, as well as other parts of Latin America tend to place a high degree of importance on job titles and hierarchy. This can potentially be an overriding influence on an employee’s desire to be promoted and the hiring manager will need to assess whether motivations are more aligned to the needs of the employee than that of the employer. Xochilt finds that specialists and managers in Mexico that have worked in Asia, Europe or North America tend to approach aspirational motivations in a more objective and pragmatic manner. Those that have not had experiences outside of Latin America need to be adequately assessed to determine how realistic they are about their promotion and development potential, alignment with the talent market as well as whether their motivations are aligned with the company’s needs in the role.


Our San Diego-based Ed Bojorquez speaks to the importance of succession planning. If you’re in a small and agile organization, it’s something managers need to be cognizant of whereas medium to large organizations will most likely have the luxury of a strategic business partner in HR to lead that initiative. Like Canada, employer branding can play a key role in ensuring an organization has the appropriate pipeline of talent in place to promote from within. Strategic vision applied through robust talent development and talent acquisition initiatives are needed to support sound succession planning and when that’s not an option – we stand ready to support our clients with securing the talent they need.

Work with Professional Recruiters for Your Next Strategic Hire

Finding the best people for your company can be challenging, and while hiring internally has its merits, it’s not always the best solution. If your needs dictate that you need to look externally, The QualiFind Group can both advise and support you in making an informed decision and an optimal hire.

We have a long track record of hiring professional, technical, and managerial roles for both domestic and multinational client organizations. We have both experience and proficiency in supporting recruiting mandates that call for multicultural fluency and adaptability. We offer professional recruitment and headhunting services across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and globally through our colleagues and partners in IRC Global Search Partners.

Contact us at https://www.qualifindgroup.com/en/contact/ to explore the best solution for you and your organization!