How to Talk to Your Boss About Applying Internally

You like the company you work for, but you think you’d be happier in another position or in a different department. So you decide to apply for another job within the organization. You don’t want your boss to find out from somebody else. Yet broaching the subject can be awkward and sometimes even caustic. To help make this essential conversation go as smoothly as possible, consider these suggestions:

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Don’t burn any bridges

The last thing you want to do is make your boss feel as if she is being abandoned or betrayed. Choose your words carefully, and don’t be afraid to compliment her whenever it feels natural. If a worst-case scenario occurs, and you’re turned down for the other position, things can get uncomfortable if you failed to successfully discuss the matter with your supervisor beforehand. Even if you do get the job, you may still have to interact with your existing boss, and you don’t want there to be any hostility between you. Avoid hurt feelings by letting your boss know your decision isn’t personal and you’re very grateful for everything she’s taught you.

Provide solid reasons

Chances are, your boss is going to want to know why you’re looking to transfer internally. Clearly, you have nothing against the organization, or you would be looking for employment somewhere else. It’s only natural for your boss to ask what prompted you to make such a bold move. If the transition involves a promotion and/or a raise, the explanation is simple. However, if it’s a lateral move, you’re going to need to supply rational answers.

Does the other position have better hours or is it located closer to home? Perhaps the work is more suited to your education and skill set. Whatever your reasons may be, make sure you have them clear in your head before you initiate the conversation.

Be prepared for resistance

You’ve probably imagined how the discussion will go, and you’ve come up with scenarios ranging from a tearful embrace to an all-out screaming match. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for the best, but you still need to be prepared for the worst. If your boss is indignant, offended, or tries to guilt you into changing your mind, you can resist these attacks if you’re ready for them. Most likely, you already have a pretty good idea what type of personality your boss has and what kinds of communication tactics he tends to use. Use your knowledge as a mark in your favor and rehearse calm, cool, and professional reactions before you set foot in his office. 

Dissipate concerns

It is entirely possible your boss will be completely supportive of your decision. However, even if that’s the case, she’s still going to be worried about what your departure will mean for her. Are you going to leave projects unfinished? Are you going to help her hire and train your replacement? Do you intend to take other people with you, such as your assistant? You can do both yourself and your boss a huge favor by reassuring her you have no intention of leaving her in the lurch. Let her know you’ll do whatever it takes to make the transition go smoothly, and follow through on your promise.

You’ve made a choice that will better your career, and that’s something to be applauded. Don’t let the conversation with your boss be a dark cloud that dampens your enthusiasm. Approach the matter with confidence, compassion, and logic, and you’ll be on your way to a new and better workplace experience.

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