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Candidate Help & Advice

The Internal Search: An Alternative to Leaving

Talk to Boss photo from ShutterstockSometimes, changing companies isn’t the best alternative, even for people who truly need a job change. If you think you fit with your current company but aren’t being adequately challenged or rewarded in your present job, it may make sense to consider moving within the company. Don’t assume this is impossible. If you seriously investigate the opportunities within your current company, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover. Dale Telford, former IT director at StarChoice, and now the founder of the bITssol, puts it well. He suggests,

If there comes a time where you feel you can’t go any further at your current company, talk with your superiors and let them know what you feel you’re capable of doing. Ask them for suggestions or if they know of a position open in another organization. That way, if you do find something outside of your current company, you will not be surprising anyone. You may also find that even though you did not think there was something else you could grow into, the company you currently work for may know your real value and create the position you want.

Because keeping good employees has become a high priority at most smart companies today, your employer may be willing to facilitate your job change within the organization. Avoiding losing you to an outside competitor will help the company avoid the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement. There are benefits for you as well. You and your family will undergo less of a disruption, and the knowledge you’ve developed about your company, the people who work there, its systems and processes, and its customers and competitors will all continue to be useful to you.

A lateral or upward shift within the same company may be the ideal move for you. Even if the new department or division doesn’t turn out to be a perfect long-term career match, the new assignment could turn into a useful “bridge” job that keeps you sane and teaches you some new skills as you consider other options.

If you’re interested in pursuing an internal change, start by talking to your boss. Think carefully about how to approach the subject. Used tactic and diplomacy to explain why you’re interested in a change without expressing bitterness, anger, or boredom with your current job. The last thing you want to do is to provoke defensiveness or hostility – after all, you want your boss’s help in making the shift. Talk in terms of your aspirations for the future rather than emphasizing your disappointment with the past and present. Don’t say, “I want a new job because the work here is depressing, dull, and pointless.” Instead, you can say, “I think I’m ready to tackle some new challenges and a little higher level of responsibility that will benefit the company.”

It’s unlikely that your boss will be in a position to directly link you with job opportunities in other departments; your company’s human resource or personnel department will have to play that role. However, company policy usually requires your boss’s approval for an internal job search. Further, it would scarcely be comfortable to proceed against your boss’s wishes, which is why it’s a good idea to start with him or her. And who knows? Your boss may surprise you by responding, “I had no idea you felt that way. Would you like to be considered for the new job that’s just about to open up in our department?”