It’s impossible to proactively pipeline without first defining best-of-market talent. 

Who exists in a particular space performing at the highest level? What can you isolate in their background to find others who operate similarly? These individuals can come from within your organization, or you may need to find them externally. 

Many talent leaders call this work building “candidate archetypes”–ideal profiles of executives that draw upon both skills and competencies.

Skills include knowledge acquired in previous work experiences, such as coding or digital marketing, whereas competencies can be more encompassing of things like personality traits and leadership style.

Both are critical when comparing internal and external talent to build proactive pipelines, for the three reasons below. 

1. Connect Internal Skills to Key Competencies

Before reviewing external candidates, talent leaders will often start by looking at internal teams to understand what skills the team already has. You can create a starter list of skills by reviewing internal talent data, which you can then connect to the competencies your organization values. 

Many Thrive TRM users leverage Thrive Skills for this, since they have previously tagged skills to contact profiles in their database after parsing resumes or validating experiences during interviews. 

Another tip from talent leaders is to tie competencies to internal performance reviews. If you assess an executive against a set of competencies and then measure subsequent performance against those same tenets, you are able to validate that the skills you value for particular roles are actually the right ones. 

2. Compare External and Internal Skills

Once you move on to reviewing external candidates, see how the skills match up against the starter list. If they’re about even, you may not actually have a talent gap and can instead spend time and resources on other high-priority tasks. If the opposite is true, connect the missing skills to organizational competencies and proceed with building your talent pipelines accordingly. Either way, highlighting skills at the forefront gives you more objective data to influence hiring decisions later on.

We recently launched LinkedIn Skills, a new feature that automatically pulls in the achievements, specialized training, and experiences that contacts have added to their LinkedIn profiles during import into Thrive. This gives you and your team an optional, entirely new dataset to work with when comparing skills between internal and external talent. 

Thrive’s new LinkedIn Skills provides additional data to compare internal and external talent.

While there is no manual data entry required, keep in mind LinkedIn Skills can’t be edited by anyone on your team, as they intentionally represent the skills a contact self-identifies and chooses to include in their profile. You can, however, search for LinkedIn Skills to find and filter contacts throughout your Thrive database. This could come in handy in identifying cutting-edge skillsets that evolve quickly (e.g. React.js for a UI developer).

3. Assess Internal and External Candidates Fairly

When you’re satisfied that you’ve calibrated for the right skills, you can then leverage competencies to level the playing field when comparing internal and external candidates from companies at different stages. Early-stage, high-growth organizations, for example, often promote faster, sometimes based on institutional knowledge rather than core skills. Competencies help you see past an external “Director” title and identify which candidates are best suited for the role.


Good competencies help standardize how to assess both skills and potential. This is why they are so helpful in comparing internal and external talent. They prevent executive talent leaders from being distracted by a candidate’s glitzy company or current title and instead keep the focus on the necessary skills and cultural fit that will ensure longevity and performance in an executive placement. If you leverage skills and competencies effectively, you can assess internal and external candidates confidently to build proactive talent pipelines for your organization.