Applying for jobs at random can be tough enough, but applying for a better job within the company you're currently working for comes with its own share of unique problems. While it might seem easier to apply and interview for an internal job, you still have to treat the process seriously. Here's how to deal with some of the most common problems.
Photo by Michael Nutt.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that more companies are looking at internal applicants. That's a good thing for you as an employee and the company that employs you. When you've worked at a company for a long time, it might seem as though you're guaranteed a position you apply for, but it's not always that simple. In fact, because your workplace already knows a lot about you and your habits, you might actually have to sell yourself a little more. However, before you take on the application process, it's good to take advantage of the fact that you already work for the company and do a little research to make sure it's a job worth applying for.
Use Your Network to Determine You Really Want the Job
The first step you should take is make sure the job you're interested in is even worth the hassle. Unlike a typical job interview, you're potentially interviewing for a company you already work for, so you don't have the same opportunities to back out if the job doesn't end up suiting your needs.
According to the US Department of Labor, it's a good idea to network with coworkers to get an idea of what a job might really entail and why the previous person left. The Intuit Quickbase blog agrees:
You should not interview for positions you either don't want or don't know too much about yet, as that's wasting everyone's time. You can sniff around for information, but do not do anything definitive until you are certain there's a good chance you'd take the position.
Basically, you should chat with coworkers to get a better understanding of the job and increase your network of people. But be aware that the people you're talking with may also be applying for the position. Photo by star5112.
Let Your Current Boss and Close Coworkers Know You're Applying
In almost all circumstances, you should let your current boss know that you're applying for a better job at the same company. Provided you and your boss get along, this is a good step because not only will they be happy to hear the news from you and not the human resources department, they'll also be able to put in a good word for you.
Some companies may require that you clear a job application with your boss anyway, but if you're uncomfortable because you're worried your current boss may put in a bad word or treat you poorly when they know you want to leave, you can talk with your potential hiring manager and get a recommendation on what to do.
Prepare Your Cover Letter with Specific Accomplishments
You might think that since you're applying for a position within the same company you don't need to work that hard on your cover letter. However, reworking your cover letter is a great way to keep yourself on the top of the stack. Rework your cover letter to include concrete, specific examples of how the work you're currently doing prepares you for the work you want to do.
Career site Monster.com also adds this piece of advice:
No matter how often you've talked to the person you're applying to, or how well he may know you, you want to use the application process as an opportunity to show how professional you are. It's quite possible the new potential boss only sees you as Sally, and not as Sally the super assistant, because he doesn't know about your specialised training, the education you're currently pursuing or your past work experience.
The idea is that you can reference all the great things you do for the company right in the cover letter without resorting to vague words, because your potential boss understands a lot of the lingo you use and your basic job description. The trick is to word it so your current job experience lends itself to the better job you're applying for. Photo by Cory Doctorow.
Sell Yourself in the Interview Like a New Hire
Remember that you're applying for a better job. That's all that matters. Just because you're applying at the same company and may even be good friends with the boss doesn't mean you shouldn't treat the interview process like you would a completely new job. This means you should dress and act as professional as you would at another company. Be sure to talk about why you want to make the move and what you think you can bring to the new team.
On top of the stock questions you should always be prepared to answer, you might also want to prepare a response for the "What will you do if you don't get this job?" question. The basic answer for this is to reiterate your commitment to the company and your current position, but don't be afraid to share some of your goals. Even if you don't get the exact position you're applying for, the hiring manager may have another position for you that you haven't considered.
Prepare Yourself For Not Getting The Job
Unlike a typical job interview, the problem with not getting that better internal job is that you still have to show up for work there every day. When it boils down to it, the only thing you can really do is not take it personally and keep pursuing other opportunities. However, you're also in a unique position to really find out why you didn't get the position. Businessweek suggests asking the question straight out:
"I'd love to know more about your thinking regarding this position and get your views on my career progress in general." That's going to lead to a more fruitful conversation than a sulky "How could you?" ever will.
Career blog Work Awesome also suggests that you keep trying if you're truly interested in the position:
If you don't [get the job], go and talk to the hiring manager to discuss what you need to do for next time. Show them that you are in it for the long haul, and you know that there will be future positions on this team. Listen to what they tell you and then take action on it.
The key here is to make sure you remain on their radar and on the good side of the hiring managers. As with any position, applying for an internal job that's better suited to you is all about selling yourself the right way. Photo by The Consumerist.
Have you ever applied for a better job at the same company you worked for? Share your experiences and suggestions in the comments.