The Internal Application: How to Make a Move Inside Your Company

Posted October 26, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

Here on Career Girl Network, we talk a lot about the job search. We’ve given you best practices for looking for a job, how to master the dreaded online application, interview skills, and much more. But we rarely talk about how to get a new job in the same company. This kind of move can be a great one for your career. And we’re not just talking about getting a promotion. We’re talking about applying for a job within your company doing a completely different thing or  working in a completely different department.

First, the reasons you may want to consider an internal vs. external move:

  • You like your company and its culture. If you like your company and fit well in the company culture, but you’re looking for a new challenge, applying internally may be the right fit for you.
  • You want to rise more quickly in your next job. Much of the beginning of a job is learning the ins and outs of the company and its culture. If you already know the culture of a workplace or company, it’s easier when you switch jobs or departments to rise quickly in the new job. You’ll be able to assimilate more quickly, learn faster, and have a shorter amount of time before you become important and a key player in your new area.
  • Little to no disruption in security. Changing jobs can mean changing health insurance companies, potentially having to invest in COBRA while that health insurance picks up (many companies now have three month waiting periods to be eligible for health insurance), and other disruptions in your pay or care that can affect your overall life security.
  • Safety of retirement benefits. Leaving a job at two or four years could mean you’re not fully vested in a match provided by the company to your 401k or other retirement account. Moving within the company could mean keeping that money safe and becoming fully vested in the future.

So you’ve decided you’re interested in making a move within your company, but how do you even get that ball rolling? Follow these tips:

  • If you work for a large company, chances are your company has a job board. Start looking at it regularly. You may even find that your company has an internal-only job board where jobs are posted first before they’re posted to the public. Search both boards regularly and look for positions that excite you and will help you grow.
  • If you work in a small company, it may be that jobs are heard of more via word of mouth, so keep your eyes and ears open. Watch if someone is leaving a job in another department, as it may be that you could be looked at for that position before the job is even posted. Look at departments that are growing, and watch for discussions of potential hires or added jobs.
  • Break the cardinal rule of looking for a job while you’re employed. Tell your boss. We told you a while back that under no circumstances should you ever tell your boss you’re looking for a job until you accept another job. But the rules change when you’re looking internally. If you apply for another job within your company, even if it’s in a far-away department, chances are the first thing the hiring manager will do is pick up the phone and call your boss. Don’t let this be the way they find out you’re looking. You’ll have better luck internally with the support of your boss. When you find a job on the internal site or you hear about an opening, go to your boss first and be honest. “I’ve heard there’s a position open in X department, and I think it may be the right next step for my growth within the company. I’m committed to staying with this company and love working here. Would you support my decision to pursue this opportunity?”
  • Find the right channels. Sometimes you can go directly to the hiring manager if you’re an internal candidate. Other companies mandate that all candidates work through Human Resources or through your own boss. Find out what the protocol is by asking your boss or going directly to HR, and be sure to follow the right channels. Sure, you want special treatment because you’re an employee, but it doesn’t make you exempt from the process. You may still need to write a cover letter and go through the whole selling yourself process to get the job.
  • If you do get the job, make a transition plan that involves all parties. Transitions can be one of the reasons not to take an internal position. You may find that your current boss wants more time from you, your new boss wants you immediately and the two could inevitably end up fighting over being part time in one location and part time in another. Make this concern transparent from the beginning. Work with both departments and leadership teams to map out a process that has a clean break from one department and a clear start in the new one.
  • Stay out of old business. Especially if you’re in a small company, it may be difficult to stay out of the business of your old department when you move. You’ll hear about who’s being hired for your position, problems with the transition, etc. Do your absolute best to STAY OUT OF IT! Part of making the transition is truly moving on to the new job as if it were outside the company.

Making an internal move can be a powerful step in your career. It shows the company you’re a committed employee and it can position you for fast growth within the company. Go for it!

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."