Is it Better To Hire or to Train?

Julie Shenkman
Posted by in Human Resources


When a position opens up in your company, the human resources department faces a common dilemma: promote existing employees and provide training, or hire someone with the skills you need. Neither strategy is inherently superior, and neither is a one-size-fits all solution for every hiring need. By weighing the costs and benefits of each option and measuring them against your company's current situation, you can determine the best course of action.

Financial Impact

Cost is often the first consideration when your human resources department decides whether to hire or train. For companies that operate in a large metro area with a broad talent pool, hiring can be fast and cost-efficient. If you anticipate a protracted search, or if you need to bring in an employee from out of town, expect to pay for long-term job advertisements, interview travel and relocation costs. What's more, experienced workers may demand higher salaries. Training costs vary dramatically based on the skill in question. Some fields, such as web design, are covered widely in free and inexpensive online resources. If the employee needs certifications, licensing or highly specialized education for heavy equipment or industry software, however, the costs can add up quickly.

Time Constraints

Time is a big factor in the hire-vs.-train decision. If you need a highly skilled person immediately to handle high-value projects with tight deadlines, you may not have the time to provide training. In this situation, you can serve clients best by hiring a skilled professional who can hit the ground running. If you have a long lead time, the human resources department has time to train an existing worker. For jobs that have loose deadlines, another alternative is on-the-job training, in which an employee learns as he goes.

Cultural Considerations

Company culture and office dynamics impact an employee's success in a new position. Consider how other workers might relate to the colleague in his new position, particularly if it involves leadership. An internal candidate could have invaluable insider insight, but he must also be able to command respect in the new role. This decision depends heavily on your existing pool of employees — human resources professionals should work closely with managers to identify possible candidates. If your team needs to be shaken up, or if you don't have workers with the desire and ability to train for the new job, save time and frustration by hiring an experienced outsider.

Experience vs. Training Potential

In some situations, no amount of training can close a skills gap or replace years of experience. This is particularly true for high-level job openings and companies that are facing problems with productivity, morale or finances. New hires aren't limited by the traditions and accepted norms of your company. Instead, they bring in fresh ideas and perspectives that lead to innovation and transformation. When this is the case, human resources should push for a skilled hire to promote change.

Training and hiring both come with challenges and benefits. By taking open positions on a case-by-case basis, your human resources department can make the most effective and cost-efficient choice.


Photo courtesy of tec_estromberg at Flickr.com

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