Changing Jobs

How to successfully apply for a job within your company

Written by Guest Contributor

Great news, you’ve found a job you’re sure you’ll love. The only problem? It’s at your current place of work, and you’re not sure how to approach pursuing an internal position so as to up your chances of securing it without upsetting your present-day manager.

While the opportunity itself is exciting, an internal transfer can be tough territory to navigate, so it certainly helps to be familiar with best practices in this arena. Here are seven handy tips to keep in mind if you’re planning to apply for a job within your company.

Follow company protocol

Many businesses have specified an official procedure to be followed by any employee who wants to move within the enterprise. Check if your company has one — it’ll likely be stipulated in the internal job posting — and make sure you adhere to it. If you’re unsure of whether your workplace has any relevant rules of conduct, schedule a meeting with an HR representative to find out more. In fact, it’s always a good idea to consult your HR department when you’re considering an internal shift — they can tell you more about the vacancy and its requirements, assess your fit for the position, and advise you about what steps to take next.

Schedule a chat with your current manager

It’s an awkward thing to do, but it’s critical that you notify your current boss as soon as you’ve decided to apply for a job within your company. It’s best to be open about it as you don’t want your manager to hear about your plans from someone else first, and you need to remain in their good books. Request a formal meeting with them to discuss your decision — don’t just bring it up casually while you’re making coffee together — and, during your chat, try to highlight how your move would align with the company’s objectives, not just your own.

Also be sure to stress that you’re grateful for their leadership up to this point. If the conversation with your boss goes well, you can, and should, even request advice on how to approach your application and ask whether they would be willing to vouch for your skills and experience.

Take the process seriously

The biggest mistake you could make as an internal candidate is to presume that you’ll have no trouble securing the new role because you’ve already got an in. When you apply for a job within your company, you need to work just as hard at selling yourself as you would if you were pursuing an external job. In fact, as many businesses tend to overlook great internal candidates, you may need to work even harder.

Do everything you would normally do if you were job searching elsewhere. Update and customize your resume to speak to your fit for the role (there’s a free resume builder for that); write a strong, tailored cover letter; do plenty of research; and if you’re invited for an internal interview, arrive appropriately dressed and conduct yourself professionally, even if you know the interviewers well. The truth is, the application process is hardly ever just a formality; the hiring manager will presumably be seriously considering external candidates too, so do your best to outshine them.

Use your insider status to your advantage

The above said, internal candidates do have certain advantages over external applicants, and you should definitely capitalize on them. As a company employee, you should find it fairly easy to collect invaluable information about the role, what it entails, and what the hiring manager is looking for, specifically, in the right candidate. You’re also in a unique position in that you can easily reach out to colleagues who are currently working in the job you’re eyeing (or in a similar one) to ask them about the highs and lows of the position and to gather advice on how to pitch your skills — if you’re lucky, they might even give you clues about the types of interview questions that could be asked.

Make yourself known to the hiring manager

Another major advantage of being an internal candidate is that you have direct access to the hiring manager — the person who’ll ultimately decide who gets the job. You could deliver your application materials to him or her in person or even request an informational interview to learn more about the vacancy. If, in your current job, you frequently interact with senior staff who work in the division you’d like to move to — perhaps your department has regular meetings with their department, for example — you should also take every opportunity to prove your value and willingness to learn during these exchanges (without overdoing it, of course).

State the obvious (and the unknown)

While preparing to apply for a job within your company, don’t leave anything unsaid in your resume and cover letter — or in any discussions — because you falsely assume everyone at the company is already aware of your strengths. Even if it feels like you’re sharing what’s already known, you should clearly state what makes you suitable for the role, detail all your accomplishments, and provide evidence for all your claims. Remember, staff might also have preconceived ideas about what you are and aren’t capable of because you haven’t had a chance to show every side of yourself in your current job. If you have relevant skills that the hiring manager might not know about, be sure to say so.

Don’t slack off in your current job

It’s essential that you continue to give your all to your current role while applying to move internally. It won’t reflect well on you if you “check out” early and start dropping balls, and it might even impact your chances of getting a good recommendation from your present-day boss. Remember, there’s still a possibility that you won’t be hired for the new job and you’ll have to remain in the same department, so keep relationships strong and focus on the responsibilities on your plate now.

Think you’ll need assistance getting an application in order for an internal position? LiveCareer offers a plethora of resume templates and resume examples to work from, plus a free cover letter builder for help with that other crucial job application document.

About the author

Guest Contributor