Tech & Work

Applying for an internal position can be tricky

Applying for another position in a company you already work for can be complicated. For one, do you tell your plans to your current manager? What about your peers? Here are a couple of ways of looking at the issue.

Applying for another position in a company you already work for can be complicated. For one, do you tell your plans to your current manager? What about your peers? Here are a couple of ways of looking at the issue.

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I received an e-mail from a TechRepublic member who brought up an interesting question: What's the best way to handle applying for an internal position? The answer to this question is complex since the interviews, planning, and preparation for an internal position are somewhat different than when applying for an external position. First, there is the matter of whether you tell your current boss your plans. Then, there are the myriad difficulties involved with possibly competing with your peers for the same job. In the next few blogs, we'll cover these issues.

Today, we'll address whether to let your current boss and peers know you're applying for a different position.

I, personally, have always gone for full disclosure when I'm applying for other positions in a company for which I currently work. But I was also pretty lucky and had managers who were very encouraging and helpful in my career growth. Most managers worth their salt encourage their staffers to expand and take advantage of opportunities. However, I've heard from enough people who've experienced the opposite — those with managers who resent their applying elsewhere — that I know it's a real problem.

So here are the choices:

Explain to your manager that you are applying for another position in the company. If this position is a step up from the one you currently have, then it's a little bit of an easier sell. But if it's a lateral move, you should make it clear that the other job more closely matches your skill set or parallels where you see yourself going career-wise. Try, if at all possible, to dispel the notion that you're seeking a move because you don't like your current manager or your current job. It may not be exactly true, but it will do you no good to burn bridges before you've even stepped foot on them.

The danger of doing this is that, if your boss is a jerk and wants to cause trouble, he can go to the prospective boss and bad-mouth you before you've even had the chance to present yourself. I know that sounds ugly but it happens.

Keep the secret of your applying from anyone and everyone. The interviewer is not allowed to tell anyone else about who is interviewing, so you would have to be the one to let folks know. If you're afraid of being sabotaged in some way by your current boss or co-workers who may also be applying, then you may want to keep it to yourself. You may also want to consider applying for a job at another company that isn't made up of such cutthroat characters — perhaps try out for a spot in the cast of Survivor. Seriously, though, I once interviewed some internal folks for a position and was surprised that a couple of them were pretty quick to point out supposed deficiencies in their peers.

If you take the second tack, be prepared to deal with some hurt feelings of those co-workers from whom you held the information.

There really is no simple answer to this question. It depends on your particular workplace, on whether it is a lateral position or a step up, and your own personal modus operandi. I'd be interested in hearing experiences you guys had with applying for a different position in your company.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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