Crash Course in: Internal job applications

It's time your career stepped up a gear, but you're happy working with your current employer. Internal promotion would be perfect - but how do you go about getting it?

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The ball's in your court. Don't just wait to be talent spotted, or for opportunities to be presented to you. By the time a job's advertised it's often too late - and many positions never are. 'Identify the work you'd like to do in the organisation, who can offer that, then work out what value you would need to bring,' says Simon North, co-founder of careers adviser Position Ignition.

Tell your boss. If you're going for a job in another part of the company, you should let your line manager know. 'It's a matter of courtesy,' says Elizabeth Bacchus, founder of the Successful CV Company. 'They'll find out anyway, and if they find out from HR it's not a nice surprise.' Be diplomatic and ask their advice; they may even give you a helpful leg-up.

But not your colleagues. 'You should be really careful about who you tell,' says Corinne Mills, managing director of outplacement and coaching provider Personal Career Management. 'Some may feel threatened if the power relationship is changing, or they may even be going for the same job.'

Do your homework. When chasing an internal job, candidates often fail to do the same amount of research about the organisation, the market and the role that they'd do for an external post, points out Mills. 'The result is that the external candidate can be better informed.'

Re-introduce yourself. 'Don't assume that because they know you, you don't have to be explicit about your achievements,' says Jenny Ungless, director of City Life Coaching. Remind everyone of what you've delivered. If there is negative baggage - a failed project, say - address what you've done to learn from it.

Bring ideas. You'll need to compete with external candidates who have something new to offer. 'Try to look at the job with fresh eyes,' says Ungless. 'You need to get across that your imagination is not bound by your current role.'

Keep it constructive. Don't badmouth colleagues, spill the beans, or diss the strategy. 'Focus on the strengths of an individual or a department,' says North. 'Never slag them off.'

Be professional. 'It's not a good idea to be "pally" in internal interviews. Make it clear you take the process seriously,' says Bacchus.

If you don't succeed ... don't turn it into a chip on your shoulder. Ask for feedback, learn from the experience, and move on.

Do say: 'I have a lot more to offer and I'd like to show you I can deliver what you are looking for.'

Don't say: 'You know me. I know you. Anyway, it's about time I had a promotion.'

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