IT Employment

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.

13 comments
mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

First, rarely is it wise to do this: a)It is bad politically b)It is hard to get more money (real money) Second it is difficult to "inspire" people to mis-qoute "a prophet is not respected in his own village." Move to other companies and you write your own ticket, move within a company like a little mouse and get stepped on. One of the many reasons women get paid less; they rarely if ever take the "bold" action.

srmcevoy
srmcevoy

The other thing to consider is company policy and if you are required to inform your current Manager. I have worked a few places with that in the company policy.

MDub
MDub

I applied for a new job having met criteria to be considered for other jobs within the corporation. The MO of my boss is to chastise the individual for considering a move, so of course I didn't communicate the opportunity. It's very important to understand the company culture, know your boss and maybe even their boss to meander through the line mines. It's not easy. In my case, the corporate interview process is very secretive - meaning you almost have to prick your finger in committing to not telling anyone of the process, interview exchange or results. The general consensus for why the company works this way is to avoid lawsuits. Most of us think they do it to channel the "chosen" resource to a job while shutting out others. The whole process from initial job posting to fulfillment seems to consistently take over 90 days. People aren't consistently notified of their interview results, but hear of opportunity fulfillment via the grapevine. So my long story short is to be savvy of the environment, know the personalities and be prepared - interactively, and professionally. Unfortunately I didn't get the job this time, but will persevere.

jck
jck

And, I have the opportunity to be there again. Currently, I am in a position that another department where I work is looking for a do-it-all programmer. My current boss is a great guy and the people I work with are all great, but I am curious as to whether or not the opportunities for me in the other position would be more beneficial professionally and personally. I am going to put out "feelers" and see what the pay, benefits, retirement, etc., are in this other position. I think if the opportunity seems right, I will not hesitate to go there and build up what would be a better future for myself.

tom.hall
tom.hall

Like Toni, I have had great bosses that encourage growth. The problem I have encountered is how to try and sell myself with folks that already know my personality, work ethic and skill set. That can definitly be a plus but also has always made the interview a bit strange for me.

Darryl~
Darryl~

I've been in this position many times, most recently about 6 months ago. In this latest instance, I applied for a management position in a different department and didn't tell anyone, including my manager. I later withdrew my name from the competition upon learning a more senior employee from the department with the available management position had submitted their resume for the position; I didn't want to cause waves and felt he was more qualified than myself for the position anyway, in addition, him and I get along quite well. As it turned out, they decided to look outside the company to fill the position and he wasn't interviewed; that made hard feelings between him and upper management and when they had difficulty finding a suitable candidate he was passed over and they asked me if I would reconsider....which I did and am now my more senior co-worker's manager. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but I have the type of personality that enables me to get along well with most people so things have been going quite well for the past couple months. I think the most important thing when in a position like myself is to ensure you let everone know you intend to be a team leader and more importantly, a member of the team. I have been in this same position twice before, this approach seems to work well.

golden.kenneth
golden.kenneth

I've tried several times to move either laterally or vertically within my company. Sr, PM, Supervisor, and Manager and only once did I even get an interview. Twice I've not even gotten replies back from HR outside of the automated one. Found out my manager (who is my age) was holding me down because of a comment I made about enjoying my business background in a healthcare environment. However my new manager has different views of my career goals and I might just move up eventually. I'll keeep trying though! Keep your friends close and enmies closer, but don't tip your hand unless you'd trust him with your wife!

pam.rickey
pam.rickey

At my company, also, it is the policy that you cannot apply for an internal position without informing your current supervisor. I recently heard of an employee who did not tell her manager. The person interviewing called her supervisor, prior to offering her an interview, to find out if he was aware that she had applied for the position. Fortunately for her, the manager pretended like he knew about it and she did get the job. The really tricky thing is that it is not a written policy and some may not know that it is expected. I actually did not know myself until I went to my former boss a few years ago and let him know I was applying for another position. He was already aware of my career goals, so that helped, and things turned out well in my case also.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Generally, the employee is not encouraged to apply unless they have been in their current position for 2 years and have had acceptable reviews for those two years. I had a staff member meet those requirements, who applied for a job she was more interested in. I encouraged her - on the premise that she would be more productive if she was happier. I gave her some prep on the interviewing process, but didn't want to be seen as coaching too much. Its the first time I've encountered such a policy. At other large companies where I've worked, you are told to notify once you have completed the formal application process. James

JoeBro
JoeBro

Even if you have a long established relationship with your interviewers, there are still lots of things that they might not know about you. Dealing with conflict, managing a situation/project/person without direct authority, and failure/learning from mistakes are all things that your current management team may have trusted you to do without direct knowledge or input. And they are definitely things that they will be interested in hearing about. Also, it's a great opportunity to demonstrate the little things that you've done: have you, off your own back, introduced a new change control process or convinced the department to adopt version control - even organising team drinks demonstrates that you are concerned about more than just doing the nine-to-five. These are things that your management team would have been grateful for, but might have forgotten amongst the larger projects. This is an opportunity for you to remind them just how much you've added to the team

doogal123
doogal123

I think in some instances, if not required to notify your current supervisor, don't. Some supervisor's egos can't take the idea that you would want to leave them, and also think that it is a negative reflection on them. This may often tie in with supervisors who are sly bullies. Upside is, if you move and succeed, your move is positive proof you knew what you wanted and had the chops. Down side is, if you don't make it to another department and the old supervisor finds out and is offended, your life can be made verrry unpleasant. Hold your cards close to your vest, take the chance - I did, and it worked well for me.

j_tcicatello
j_tcicatello

At my current employer all internal openings are posted on the intra-net, as soon as you submit your profile (application) your current manager is notified via e-mail with all the details.

bluesnake
bluesnake

Good to hear that you have helped out a prospective candidate for another position. From my experience managers try to restict his sub-ordinates from flourising. At the end, I believe however it is a win-win situation - the employee is happier + probably better salary whilst the employer is happier as s/he is more productive. Also it is important that during the interview one must not mention or reveal that s/he real intentions esp if the current post is boring.

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