News & Insight
October 2002

Your Career Path to Success Moving to a Different Job Within Your Company

Bill Morin

In today's tight job market, it's difficult to get ahead by moving to another company.

A number of firms, both large and small, have reduced the size of their work force. Others have imposed hiring freezes. When companies do have openings to fill, they frequently consider internal candidates first because they 1) know the culture 2) can hit the ground running and 3) don't require a search fee.

How can you capitalize on internal career opportunities with your employer?

To start, ask yourself, “Is there anyone at your current organization -- someone you might like to work for -- who could benefit from your background and experience?”

Notice how the question is worded. It is not, "Is there someone who could help you?" Help is generally considered hard to come by. Most people want to know what you can do for them.

Strategize, be positive, and think in terms of what you can offer that will contribute to the value of the organization. This is an important distinction because when you're looking for a job with your current company, you'll stand the best chance of finding a receptive listener if you look at it from the perspective of what you can do for someone else.

To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your company can do for you. Ask what you can do for your company.”

Researching Possibilities

Here are two questions that might help point you in the right direction:

  • Can you package your skills so the potential new boss will see how they could fit his or her needs?
  • Can you find out about any new projects the new division, department or subsidiary is planning that would require someone with your background?

Don't know the answers? Then do some research. Call your contacts, spies and friends to find out what's on the agenda. These people will become your guides in positioning you for the opportunity.

Remember, too, to look on the Internet. It's amazing how much information you can unearth with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks.

And don't be shy. All too often we don't explore the opportunities in front of us. We think there is a great "fitness guru" inside the company who is looking after us and will make us aware of any new opportunities. That just isn't the way it is in the real world. Most companies do a lousy job of succession planning or even human resource strategy planning.

I can't tell you how many times people have said to me, "I wonder why I wasn't considered for the position so-and-so got." They often wonder, "How come I wasn't even asked if I wanted the job?" You have to be aggressive, assertive, and eager for opportunities, because it is you who makes them happen -- not someone who's looking out for you.

Seeing How Prepared You Are

Don't fall into the trap of worrying that you'll be perceived as a retread simply because you've been with the company for a while. You are not a retread. What is far more probable is that you'll be seen as a person who requires the least effort on your employer's part as long as you qualify for the position. It will cost your employer less to move you up from the inside than to recruit someone from the outside. It's also good for corporate morale to promote from within. All of this is good for you -- provided you're aggressive enough.

Consider what you have going for you:

  • You're motivated and available.
  • You know the corporate culture.
  • The company knows you.
  • You're demonstrating your loyalty to the company by virtue of the fact that you want to stay (that's something no outsider can say).

These are your strongest selling points for the job. Don't hesitate to use them.

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