At some point, we all realise we need to move on in order to meet our larger career ambitions. But, before you begin to prepare your CV, speak to headhunters and start applying for jobs online, there is one thing you should always do first – look internally for opportunities in your current company. You will have already proven yourself to your current employer and built relationships, which means it should be easier for you to secure a new role. In fact, many companies have programs specifically designed to help employees develop their careers within their company. So, how should you go about looking for a new role internally?

Research your options

Before you start applying for roles, you should do some research. First up, find out what the official policy on internal transfers is. Most firms will have a set of rules or policies, like you have to have been in your current role for about 18 months and achieved certain performance ratings. Its better to make sure you meet the criteria before you begin. Otherwise, you could end up in a weird situation where you have told your boss you wanted to leave, you have someone else who wants to take you in to their team and policy isn’t going to allow it. Awkward.

Second, you should find the internal job board and application process. Internal applicants are usually given preferential treatment over external job applicants, so make sure you follow the internal route. It will increase your likelihood of getting an interview and / or being selected for the role. But before you apply, you should do some digging to find out more about the team and manager you are planning to apply to. Maybe there are vacancies in that team because the boss is terrible and people are continually quitting. Perhaps the vacancy has come up because the manager has helped the incumbent develop and gain a promotion. In one of these circumstances you want to apply, in the other you really do not! You should also make sure that the type of work they are doing in that team meet your desired career goals and development points. If they do not, you should not consider applying.

Speak to your manager

If you want to know a quick way to ruin your relationship with your manager, apply for a job internally and don’t tell them. Sure, you might feel nervous about speaking to your manager about your desire to try something new, but this is a critical step. Your manager is going to find out regardless and its better to have them helping you with the move rather than feeling like you are trying to go behind their back.

Once you apply, the hiring manager is going to ask your boss what your performance is like. It’s the most obvious thing in the world to do. If you have spoken with your boss upfront and managed this well, they are going to give you a glowing recommendation and help you get the job. You need to frame the conversation as one that is positive. If you tell your boss you want to leave because they suck as a manager – that is not ending well. But if you thank your boss for all their support and explain that they have helped you get to a point where you feel you have the ability to try and gain a new skill in this other team then they are much more likely to help you. Especially as most firms won’t endorse an internal move unless the existing manager gives their approval.

 Be Patient

The one downside to internal transfers is they often take ages to go through. Internal applicants are usually interviewed first, but its common that they will also compare you with external candidates. So, you may need to wait several weeks before you even hear whether or not you have been successful. Its important to understand that this is all part of a free and fair selection process.

If you are selected, its going to take several more weeks before you get a formal offer. Internal transfers are a lot more complex than you think. There needs to be approvals from HR, the two managers, alignment with the Reward Team on salary benchmarking as its likely your current role and the new role are in different bandings, plus maybe 2 lines of business, or entities also needing to give the OK.

Once everything is approved, its likely that you may then have to wait several more weeks to work through a transition. If your team are working on an important project that is due to be completed in 4 months’ time, it’s highly unlikely you are going to be allowed to transition over until the project is completed. This whole process can be incredibly frustrating, and the worst thing you can do is lose your cool or begin to make ultimatums during that period. If you act unprofessionally its going to reflect badly on you.

Stay focused

Finally, its incredibly important to stay focused on your performance while you are waiting to transition. We have all switched off and slowed down when we know we are leaving a role. But you absolutely cannot do that when you are staying in the same company. If you slack off and get lazy because you know you are leaving the team soon, well that’s going to hurt your reputation. Your goal should be to showcase why they hired you and ensure people see you in a positive light. Everyone should see that you got the job because you are a great employee that does all they can for the organization. 

*If you are looking to succeed in your career then you should check out my book – The Employee Handbook: A Practical Guide for Managing Your Career – which was ranked as the #1 Best Selling Career Book on Amazon Singapore. You can pick up a copy by clicking here. Alternatively, you can search for the book on any Amazon site including UK, US, Singapore, India, UAE, Japan, Canada, Australia and various others to order a copy. If you are in another location, Amazon will be able to ship globally to you. It is also available as an e-book via Amazon Kindle.