Q: I’m currently employed, and I want to apply for an internal position. How can I make myself the best candidate for the role?
A: It is excellent that you have recognized that applying for an internal position should be taken just as seriously as applying for external roles. This kind of preparation is critical if you want to succeed. You already have a huge advantage because you know a great deal about the organization. However, you may not know the specifics of the position and department you would be applying to. Do your research on what the business challenges may be in that part of your organization. It is important for you to understand how your skills can make a positive impact on the short and long-term goals the department has set.
Additionally, it is vital for you to find out the style of the manager or leader of that group to ensure that this is an environment where you would excel. Also keep in mind that most internal moves require support from the department that you’re leaving. Spend the time and energy talking with your current manager to learn what they would say about you, the skills they think are of greatest value to the department that you would like to join, and what kind of recommendation they would provide for you. Internal mobility is important to organizations right now as they try to retain people. As such, many businesses are looking to provide more stretch assignments and increased opportunities to learn about different parts of the company while preparing current employees to be leaders in the future.
You should also be reviewing your resume to make sure it shows your internal accomplishments. While doing this, make sure not to use departmental jargon and abbreviations (not everyone in the organization may know what they mean) and quantify all your successes. Be specific, show sound data, and make sure to illustrate your accomplishments thoroughly to match the opportunity you are looking at. You may want to consider networking with colleagues that are already in the department you are interested in joining. For the interview process, it is vital that you are dressed professionally whether you are doing a Zoom interview or a face-to-face meeting.
While going through your checklist, it is important for you to understand the application process. For example, do you have to use the company’s applicant tracking system (ATS) to apply for an internal position? Does HR only need a resume, or do they require a cover letter and a resume? The ATS program or HR can give you the answer to that question. However, there is absolutely no downside to providing a cover letter to the person you will be interviewing with outlining the reasons you would be interested in the role and the skills and value you can bring. Doing the additional work will only help you and going the extra mile may lead to a more comprehensive discussion during the interview process.
Remember: your new manager is looking for someone to solve problems. The person who demonstrates that ability best (internal or external) will be the most successful. Take your preparation seriously just as you would for any external role. You should showcase yourself, your skills, and your abilities, as well as your professionalism. Beyond your resume, cover letter, and interview, remember to include a thank you note to those who participated in the process.
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