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Changing Jobs Within Your Organization

Do you feel like it’s time to move up or across the corporate ladder? Have you ever thought of advancing or changing careers within your company? What if you are a manager and you want to hire an employee from a different department? There is a right way and a wrong way to change jobs and hire employees internally. The right way can lead to fulfilling and empowering career and company growth, while the wrong way can lead to career disaster. But, armed with a little knowledge, intra-company transitions can be effective and profitable. Everybody can win as long as everyone understands the pros, cons and how-to’s of moving up and around within an organization. Let’s start with the employee.

For The Employee 

Getting ready to make the move 
Even before you make the move to apply for that new job, you should lay some groundwork that establishes yourself as a valuable employee, someone your company would want to keep. If you are interested in moving across or up the corporate ladder be willing to take on new challenges.

Go ahead and volunteer for extra responsibility. Volunteering for and taking on special assignments and extra responsibility is a fantastic way to move ahead. It not only demonstrates you are a go-getter, but it also allows you to develop working relationships with new colleagues which, in turn, helps expand your network and showcase your talents.

Having a mentor is another valuable tool. Mentors can really help you learn how to be successful in your organization. They can serve as a sounding board, an advisor, a coach, and a champion for your career. Last, make an effort to build a strong internal network at your organization. Building solid relationships throughout the company will help you stay on the forefront of opportunities. Having a great reputation with everybody is the best marketing tool you can create for yourself. 

Take a look around
Next, determine the protocol within your organization. You’ve got to understand how this sort of thing is done at your company, and most large organizations have policies and procedures in place for upward and lateral moves. Large organizations often post open positions in-house and through the Internet. Your HR department can also be a good source of information. Small organizations rely much more on personal relationships and networks, so it may be fine to ask around (and this is where good workplace relationships come into play). You should also be having regular conversations with your boss regarding your career trajectory so that when opportunities arise, both of you will both be ready.

If you become aware of an opportunity in your organization that interests you, then you have to be proactive about it. As with any job, you need to do a little prep work before applying. Talk to people about the job and the team. Determine if it is a good fit for you and if you are qualified. Even if you aren’t qualified, sometimes just applying for a different position sends a strong message that you are ready for a new challenge.

If you decide to proceed, consider discussing this with your boss. Chances are he/she will find out about it so you want to make sure your action is “spun” right. You want to make sure your manager will support your pursuit of another position. If you aren’t sure your immediate boss will support your move, then you may have to rely on the support of someone else within that organization. This is where it really pays to have a solid mentoring relationship with your boss AND a strong network of professional colleagues within the company. This is also a great reason to always have an internal mentor at your workplace who is not your boss.

Not all bosses are alike. If you are a good employee your boss may not be enthused by your desire to move on. Some bosses really take pride in their ability to develop and grow people. Some don’t. It doesn’t make them bad people; it just means they are more invested in creating strong results for their department. So if you really think your boss wouldn’t be supportive, it is important to find another mentor, advisor or champion within the organization. Here are some tips for finding one:

  • Look around. Who do you respect? With whom do you have good rapport? Who has successfully moved around within the organization?
  • Find a few people and meet informally with them. 
  • Just be careful you don’t appear to be “going behind your boss’ back”. In other words, don’t have coffee with your boss’ best friend.
  • If your boss does find out be honest. Let him/her know that you are just exploring.

How soon can I move around? This depends on several factors: where you are in your career and what type of company you work for. Some organizations move people around quite liberally. But I would say try to not to move jobs sooner than a year. And I say this for several reasons:

  • One, you don’t want to seem like a flaky employee. It takes time to get employees up and running so if you change too often employers are going to see you as a risky candidate. 
  • Two, organizations are social networks. If you transition too often, it will confuse your colleagues and people won’t really understand what your expertise is or where your loyalties lie. 
  • And three, it is important to really take the time to figure out what is a good fit for you. If you are constantly moving, then I’m guessing you haven’t really been able to accurately assess yourself and the situation in order to make appropriate decisions.

Now the caveat to this is when you are being recruited and promoted on a steady and consistent basis. In other words, if you are the rising star who is constantly being asked to step up then there will be less stigma. There is a danger to being a rising star, however, and that is that people may start to resent you, especially if you don’t stay in any one position long enough to really show results. In this case people may start to make up stories about you and your sudden rise to success.

For The Employer

The etiquette of poaching 
Let’s turn the tables a little and talk about recruiting employees from within the organization to leave their current position and work for you. Let’s say you are a supervisor with a vacancy in your department and you have your eye on a possible candidate who has not applied for the position. Is it appropriate to approach this person? Is it OK to poach?

This is really a question of tact and finesse. The answer again depends largely on the culture of the organization and your relationship with the coveted employee and his/her supervisor. There is a fine line between actively recruiting people and letting people know about interesting opportunities. You want to make sure you are someone who can spot and attract good talent, but you don’t want to be known as a shameless poacher. Generally speaking, here is how to do it:

  • Seek out the employee. Tell him/her about the position and why you think they would be a good fit. Find out if this might be a position that would fit into their career plans. Let them know that you are a fan of their work and would love to talk to them about their career plans.
  • Invite them to apply. You can simply say something like, “I think you would be great addition to my team and I’d love for you to apply.”

The pros and cons of promoting from within                                                                                                                             As an employer, there are advantages and disadvantages of promoting an existing employee. The advantages are that existing employees know and understand the organizational culture and the business models utilized by the organization. They understand who all the players are and how to get things accomplished within the business. Existing employees have proven track records and a proven commitment to the organization. Another big advantage is that it helps organizational morale. People like to know that there are opportunities for advancement, so it sends a strong positive message throughout the company.

The disadvantages, however, must be considered. Sometimes, a position really needs a new set of perspectives and ideas. Existing employees often will reinforce the status quo. A person’s internal reputation can also be a disadvantage if their reputation is at all tarnished or questionable.

However, the biggest disadvantage is when people are promoted into managerial jobs based on technical skills. In other words, being a great sales or technical person does not necessarily mean that person will be a great manager. Those positions require very different skill sets. This is one of the biggest problems in organizations today—organizations don’t spend enough time developing the skills necessary to move from being a great technical or sales person to a great manager. They are very different jobs with very different skills.

Want to learn more about Office Etiquette for your organization? Check it out:

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