Make us your home page

Keep these tips in mind when applying internally for a different job

Are you considering making a job move? Not to a new company but to a different department. How is this different from moving to another company? There are some similarities in preparing for internal and external job moves, and some unique differences.

• Remember that any new position, even an internal move, requires you to take the process seriously. Prepare for interviews and meetings just as you would for an external job. Polish up your resume and prepare for those interview questions.

• Research the people who work in the other department to learn more about them and the department's goals, and why the opening exists. You will be expected to be more familiar with the department than external candidates.

• Dress professionally and be at your best. You may be evaluated against external candidates.

• Send thank-you notes after the interview and follow up within 24 hours with any additional information requested. This is also a good chance to share other personal strengths you forgot to mention.

Prepare your strategy for applying internally

There are some unique issues that arise when applying for an internal position:

• Don't apply to everything — this makes it seem as if you have no career focus. Do some preliminary research to learn more about other departments and gain information that will help you determine how you can make a contribution.

• Prepare a strong message for why they should hire from within for this position, and why it should be you. Make sure this is linked to the department's strategic goals and priorities.

• Speak frankly with your own boss, letting him or her know about your longer-term career interests and reasons for joining another department. This can be difficult, yet it is important. It's not a good idea for your boss to be the last to know. You need your boss to help smooth out your pending transition or to help you get the new job. If you don't have a great relationship with your immediate boss, you should have other managers who will support your move. You must also keep your performance at a strong level before you make a move; declines in your performance can send a negative message to the new department about your overall commitment.

• It is critical to have mentors or trusted advisers in the company. Many an employee has gotten stuck in a tug-of-war or stepped on a political land mine when trying to change departments. You must have higher-level advocates or mentors who can help smooth the waters.

• Build your internal network long before you attempt an internal move. Make sure others in the company know about your contributions. By serving on project teams or company-wide teams with employees from other departments, you enable them to learn more about you and your performance.

• Keep current with what is going on in the company, its major organizational changes and strategies. Make sure you are familiar with your new boss' style and the culture of the new department.

• Be prepared for the question, "What will you do if you don't get this job?" Even if they don't ask, you should think about it for yourself. I advise people to look in the external market for opportunities at the same time they look internally. Not only does this give them more leverage, it also helps them to see how marketable they are. This can enhance their confidence when applying for internal positions.

• Be open to feedback. The hiring manager may tell you that you aren't suited for one specific job, but if you are open to advice and insights, you might get information about other jobs where you would be a better fit.

• If you do switch departments, maintain good relations with your old boss and colleagues. You never know when the company might reorganize and you might be working with them again.

Joyce E.A. Russell is director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership, negotiations and career management.

Keep these tips in mind when applying internally for a different job 05/31/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency and leaders

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Ciccio executive chef Luis Flores prepares an Impossible Burger Wednesday at the Epicurean Hotel Food Theatre in Tampa.
  3. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project


    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    Construction is underway for the new Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This view is from atop Amalie Arena, where local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the first piece of what will be the new Water Street District. The USF building is expected to open in late 2019. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  4. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home. 
  5. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]