Episode #12: How to Pursue Another Internal Position (Without Pissing Off Your Boss)

Episode #12: How to Pursue Another Internal Position (Without Pissing Off Your Boss)

The world is full of opportunities.

Many times, your next best step can very well be available at the company where you are already employed.

Internal jobs get posted on official boards, recruitment emails with lists of available positions are sent, and co-workers tip you off about new possibilities.

If you are happy at your current company but itching for a role that’s a little different, finding out about these opportunities can be the universe’s way of dropping a little gift in your lap.

Even if it’s THE PERFECT next step for you, if you don’t go about this well, you will end up doing a little damage to your reputation and your professional relationships. Obviously, we don’t want that to happen.

Here’s how you go about it without pissing off your boss (and potentially a bunch of other people).

Understand why you are interested in the new position.

Examine your motivation and truly understand why you are interested in this new job. Take pen to paper and write a list of reasons.

No one will read what you are writing, so be honest with yourself.

Are you pursuing a new role, or are you running away from something that’s not right with your current position? Are you looking to make a pivot in direction, or are you bored in your existing role? Are there adjustments that you could make to your current responsibilities that could help you scratch the itch? Are you looking to work with a different team of people?

It’s important to understand why. Your road ahead will require resilience, so you need to be clear with yourself that this is truly what you want. You also need to be able to explain why you are interested clearly to others at your company, should you choose to pursue it. The crisper you are about explaining your motivation, the greater your chances for success.

Research the official process.

Every company will have a process about how to handle transfers, so do a little digging and make sure you understand the rules of the road.

If there isn’t an employee policy to refer to, do a little informal sleuthing to figure it out. Even if there’s no written policy, there’s a policy. Trust me on this.

Figure out the “right” way to pursue another internal position.

Be straight with your boss.

Love them or hate them, you need to step up and be transparent with your current boss.

Don’t take the easy way out by delaying this conversation. Your boss should be one of the first to know of your interest in a new position and certainly not one of the last.

I know that this information may be upsetting to your boss. If you are great at what you do, of course, they don’t want to lose you!

But, if they care about you, they will want you to be happy. And in this competitive job market, they will want to do right by the company and retain you as an employee.

Calmly explain your rationale about why the new position interests you. It will best serve you to make it about what’s intriguing about the new position—and not about what sucks about your current position.

Accept that your transition to a new role is not a given.

Look, just because you are an internal candidate does not mean you are the best candidate.

The position may be fulfilling a time-sensitive need that can’t afford a learning curve. Your skills may be a far stretch from the description and the company is not ready to take the risk. There can be another internal candidate vying for the role.

Play your cards strategically. Don’t burn that bridge with your boss or your existing team. You might be sticking with them, so treat them all like nothing has changed throughout the application process.

Keep showing up as the dedicated, awesome badass employee that you are.

Be patient.

Internal moves take time. Other candidates are being interviewed too. Politics need to be sorted through. Strategic decisions about your current responsibilities and workload must be made. Managers negotiate timing with each other.

Go into this process knowing that the decision process will take some time. Don’t let this discourage you. It doesn’t mean it’s a “no.” A negative answer tends to come quickly; an affirmative answer takes time for stakeholders to negotiate.

Go above and beyond to ensure a smooth transition.

If you get the answer you want, it’s on you to ensure a graceful transition. Set the next person who will be taking on your new responsibilities for success. Work with your old and new bosses to define and document a clear transition plan that includes specific dates.

Express genuine gratitude to all players. Thank your old boss for the great things you’ve learned under their tutelage; thank them for supporting your career path by helping you get a new position.

Always take the high road on departures. You never know when you’ll cross paths with people again.

Following this advice will further demonstrate that you are the kind of employee your company wants to retain and increase your chances of success.

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