Internal Career Fairs Help Close Skills Gaps

By Jenna McCoy

August 9, 2022
6 min read

Early in my career, a leader shared with me that career shifts happen in 3-year increments. Year one, you start in a new role and you learn the ropes. Year two, you find your rhythm and start to perform and excel. Year three, you’ve mastered your craft and start to consider, “What’s next?” When that 3-year itch hits, where do you turn to answer the question, “What’s next?”


Shockingly, according to a Gartner study,1 “only 33% of candidates who sought out a new job in the past 12 months searched internally within their organization first.”


In the midst of “The Great Resignation” and the high costs associated with turnover, organizations simply cannot afford to have precious talent walk out the door. Organizations must be proactive in answering when their employees begin to wonder, “What’s next?”


While there is a myriad of ideas when it comes to retention and career pathing, one often overlooked idea is an internal career fair.

Internal Career Fair vs. Career Pathing

Career pathing is typically siloed in that employees can move upward only within the team, department or function they are already in. Career pathing often overlooks when an employee has a skillset or interest that matches a different part of the business.

An Internal Career Fair solves this by enabling employees (those who are actively, passively or not at all considering a new role) to gain exposure to open roles organization-wide and network with colleagues they may have never crossed paths with otherwise.

Equitable Opportunity

Unless an employee has expressed that they are interested in pursuing a new role or career path, managers often are unaware that their direct reports are exploring a new role. Naturally, it’s difficult to have a conversation with a manager about one’s desire to move to a new role.

In the rare instance where an employee does express the desire to take on a new role, that employee often has an advantage on the internal job market as their manager is actively seeking out internal roles on their behalf and connecting them to stakeholders within the organization who are hiring.

With 45% of employees saying they are actively seeking a new role or plan to within a year,2 organizations need to provide career options for all employees — not just those who express they want to make a career change. 

An Internal Career Fair solves this by providing an opportunity for employees across all functions and job levels to see the career possibilities within the organization. Perhaps there is an employee who is considering leaving the organization, only for them to come across an internal opportunity that gets them into the function they’ve always dreamed of being in. 

Manager Involvement

Managers need to be involved in the Internal Career Fairs in multiple ways.

  1. Open to Exploration

    If a manager wants to reap the benefits of the internal career fair (e.g., filling that role they’ve had posted for ages), then they need to accept and support their team in exploring new career opportunities. With employees primarily leaving due to perceived lack of unsupportive managers and assumed limits on career progression,3 it arguably behooves managers to enable direct reports to explore career opportunities. Additionally, it creates an opportunity for the manager to discuss their direct reports’ career desires, reflecting an investment in them not just as an employee, but as a person.

  2. Open-Minded to Unique Skill Sets

    From a hiring perspective, managers should keep an open mind when it comes to potential fits for their open roles. While an internal candidate might not have the traditional skillset, they do have the organizational knowledge that can often be difficult for external hires to acquire. Hiring managers should work with HR counterparts to think about the skillsets that would align with the open roles.

Solving for Skill Gaps With DeVryWorks

At DeVryWorks, we partner with clients to make meaningful progress against their retention, reskilling and upskilling efforts. When organizations implement internal career fairs, we enable our clients to drive productivity by accompanying the internal job opportunities with an aligned academic program from DeVry University. This aligned academic program that enables the internal transfer to build the skills they need for the new job, while they are on the job.

Pairing the internal job transfer with enrollment in one of DeVry’s academic programs ensures that the employee obtains the relevant skills for their new role and demonstrates that the organization is willing to invest in their employees to ensure tenure and career trajectory within the organization.

If you are interested in replicating a similar approach at your organization, contact us to discuss more.

About Jenna McCoy

Senior Manager of Sales Enablement, DeVryWorks

Jenna McCoy provides strategic leadership over the DeVryWorks commercial partnership process, upskilling of the DeVryWorks strategic account management team and supports sales technology innovation. In addition, she leads development of the customer buying journey by collaborating with product, marketing, sales and service to evolve the corporate partnership process based on partner needs.

Related Content