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A vacancy is an employment position with a company, government organization or non-profit that has no current occupant.

How Vacancies Occur:

Vacancies can occur in several ways. The most common way is that an employee leave a position by promotion, demotion or termination. Promotions can cause a chain reaction of vacancies as employees within an organization promote in succession down the hierarchy. A demotion of one person often causes the promotion of another person. Terminations can cause a chain reaction of promotions if the vacancy is a management position. Sometimes organizations create new positions, so these begin as vacancies.

How Vacancies are Filled:

Vacancies are filled through some sort of selection process. The larger the organization, the more formalized this process will be. For governments, the selection process is almost always highly formal. A formalized process gives all parties involved in the selection a sense of fairness in the process. Such a process is also meant to stand scrutiny from those outside it.

Vacancies Versus Full-Time Equivalents:

Vacancies are not the same as full-time equivalents. FTE is a measurement of how many employees an organization has assuming all employees work a full-time schedule. A vacancy for a full-time position is one FTE. Part-time positions count for less than one FTE. The exact amount depends on how many hours per week the person in the part-time position works.

Also Known As:

  • vacant position
  • vacancy
  • job opening
  • open position
  • opening

  • A company’s chief executive officer retires. This creates a vacancy at the top of the organization. After a lengthy hiring process, the company’s board of directors promotes the company’s chief financial officer to the chief executive officer position. One of the defining traits of this company is it’s propensity to promote from within, so after several selection processes, the accounting department director becomes the chief financial officer; the accounts payable manager becomes the accounting director; one of the accounts payable accountants becomes the accounts payable manager; and someone from outside the company is hired as an accounts payable accountant. As a result of the chief executive officer retiring, the company filled five vacancies.
  • A rapidly growing city needs the size of its government to keep pace with its population. After looking at the city’s growth over the past few years and projections of what growth will look like over the next ten, the city manager and police chief decide that the city will need to hire two more police officers each year over the next ten years. In addition to positions that must be filled due to promotions, demotions and terminations, the police department will have two vacancies to fill next year.
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