Tips For Pursuing Internal Openings at Your Company

So, you have your eye on an internal opening within your company—now what? It might seem strange to have to come up with a game plan just to apply to a company you already work for. But in fact, it’s just as important to have a concrete plan in place as it would be if you were applying externally. While it’s always a good idea to talk to your boss about applying internally, it helps to take a few initial steps first.

Tips for internal positions

Take it seriously

Too many people mistakenly believe they have a leg up just because they already have a position at the company. But you need to work just as hard at selling your skill set as you would if you were applying for an external vacancy. Or, as The Job Network points out, “Since many businesses tend to overlook great internal candidates, you may need to work even harder.”

Get the inside scoop

Applying internally can give you a real advantage, since you are already most likely working with or around some of the people who share your desired job description. Talk to them! Forbes suggests finding someone already working in the position you want and sitting down for a friendly chat. What does he like about the job? Dislike about the job? What are some of the skills needed to be successful in the position? What kind of advice does he have for you? Soak it all in, then use it to your advantage come application and interview time.

Inform your boss

You really don't want your current boss or manager finding out that you've applied for an internal position before telling them in person. It comes across as underhanded and a bit sneaky, even if you don't mean it that way. So, sit her down for a formal chat (i.e., not in the break room while you are both grabbing a snack). When you do bring it up, do so in a way that demonstrates how your internal move helps not just you, but the company as a whole. Try to make your interest in another position part of a larger picture, and remember: Don't burn any bridges, because your new position is never guaranteed. It will be awkward for everyone if you badmouth your current position, assuming you won't be in it for much longer, only to have to face your same boss if you are not hired.

Contact Human Resources

Now that you've told your boss your plan to apply, it's time to find the HR point person in the department for which you want to work and say hi. Forbes recommends you let him know “which position you want, and discuss the job’s responsibilities and requirements, your background (knowledge, experience, skills, and education), and your 'fit' for the position. Tell the HR person that you’d like to apply for the position and ask for his or her feedback and thoughts on whether they believe you could be a successful candidate.” This is another way to get in front of the hiring manager and team and be extra prepared for what the company is looking for in the role.

Follow the rules

You can't go wrong if you follow protocol—and chances are high your company has a protocol in place for cases just such as yours, in which a current employee wants to apply for a different position within the same organization. If this is the case, be sure you follow the chain of command accordingly. If you are not entirely sure if there are any rules pertaining to this type of situation, be sure to bring it up and ask all your questions while you are reviewing the job post with the HR department.

Many companies prefer to hire from within, so it’s true you may have that to your advantage. But just remember: Walking into any interview assuming you’ve got it in the bag is the fastest way to be shown the door.

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