Imagine you are happily working at your job when you receive an email from your HR department notifying you of an exciting new job opening at your company. The position matches your skills and experience, and most importantly, aligns with your long term career goals.
You are interested in applying for the position but worried about risking your current employment. Will your manager be supportive? Will they think you’re unhappy in your current role? If you apply for the new role and don’t get it, will it negatively impact your working relationships?
Employers will often send out internal job postings to announce open positions and encourage current employees to apply. By doing so, employers create a workplace where employees feel they have the opportunities for career growth – one of the five most significant factors that employees want from their employer – thus contributing to employee retention and engagement. After all, it’s more beneficial for a company to promote from within rather than spend the time and effort recruiting external candidates.
If an internal job posting gives you the chance to grow your skills and experience, here’s how to apply without risking your current job.
Approach your manager.
Not all companies require employees to notify their managers when applying for an internal position. In fact, most require the manager be notified only if the employee is selected for an interview. Whether or not you are required to tell you manager, it is best if they find out from you in order to maintain a positive working relationship.
If you have a supportive relationship with your manager, speak with them about the possibility of an internal move before the opportunity arises. Your current boss is be a valuable source of advice on the matter. If you have a tense or unsupportive relationship with your manager, make sure to follow your company’s protocol and inform them when you are required to do so.
If a position has become available before you have had a chance to broach the subject with your manager, ask to meet with them privately and share your interest in the position. Make sure they understand that your desire to apply is not about leaving your current role, but rather the opportunity to work at something new that is more inline with your carer goals and your future within the organization.
Seek information and advice.
Consider who in the company might be a good source of advice and information. For example, colleagues who have successfully gone through the internal application process may be able to coach you through the experience.
You will also need to gather references from colleagues and managers. If possible, discretely reach out to the person who is acting the position you want and ask for tips or even a referral. And, of course, your manager can be an excellent source of support as well as a possible reference.
Apply for the position.
Treat this as you would any job application. The job posting should explain the application process. Make sure to follow it exactly as described.
Update your resume with your current position as outlined in the original job description and highlight what you have accomplished while in the role. Don’t assume that the hiring manager knows exactly what you do and how well you do it. Pay attention to any transferable skills that may be useful in the new role.
When writing your cover letter, show appreciation for your current employment in addition to your interest in the new position. You want to show enthusiasm for the new job but also your desire to stay in your current role if you are not selected.
Lastly, review your LinkedIn profile and make sure it is up-to-date and professional. If you’re not connected already, invite some of your colleagues and managers into your network.
Prepare for the interview.
Like the application process, prepare for the job interview as you would any other.
- Be ready to talk about yourself, your current position, and other aspects of your professional background that your interviewers might not know about. Stay positive and enthusiastic, and outline your professional goals as they relate to this new position.
- Think about your weaknesses and strengths. It may be harder to discuss these with the people work with, so prepare your answers ahead of time. Be prepared to speak about how you are handing your weaknesses in your current role and discuss them with your manager before the interview. They may be able to help you identify and demonstrate your strengths.
- Identify examples that demonstrate your various skills. Demonstrate your knowledge and proficiency in the job, as well as those personal characteristics that are valued in the company. Consider including your ability to learn quickly and your enthusiasm about adapting to a new team and new duties.
- Familiarize yourself with the new job you are applying to. Make sure you are aware of the department and its work.
- Remember to send a thank-you email. Thank the interviewers for their time and consideration. Reiterate your enthusiasm about the position and the company as a whole.
And be prepared for any outcome.
If you get the job, ensure that your work is ready to be transferred to a new person but don’t let it interfere with your productivity. As you prepare to leave your current role, continue to do your job as you always have.
Prepare yourself for the possibility that you might not get the job. If that happens, avoid recriminations or hard feelings. Often someone else might get the position for reasons that are beyond your control.
Ask for feedback from the interviewers about how you performed during the entire application process. This will demonstrate that you are open to critique and will give you an opportunity to learn something new about yourself.