Downsizing shortly, your first inclination may be to review the want ads. While staying in touch with the job market is always a good idea, you might want to check out opportunities at your own company before seeking a position elsewhere.
Reasons for Conducting an Internal Job Search
Moving to another position within your organization offers many advantages over leaving it altogether:
You already know the ropes. You understand the formal and informal power structure, how things get done and whom to see when you need information. Building an internal network and developing relationships in a new company takes time and effort. If an alternative career path is available within your current corporation, you can learn it much more quickly than if you move somewhere else.
You've developed a bond with other employees. If you've been a recognized contributor for a number of years, you're a known quantity with fans in many departments. You're considered reliable and trustworthy and will be readily accepted as a member of a new team. You have a track record with management. If you've excelled in your work, other company managers may be interested in taking you into their fold. People want to work with individuals they know and trust. That's why corporations hire from within whenever possible.
Looking for a position outside your firm is a tricky proposition if you're still employed. Your manager may encourage your job search and give you time to make phone calls and go on interviews, but it's unlikely. Consequently, you may find yourself hunkering down in your cube when contacting potential employers and feeling guilty if you call in sick for networking appointments and interviews. Many bosses don't want to lose subordinates but are more accepting when the transfers are internal.
It's a shame to give up the golden handcuffs (if you have one or more): a 401(k) plan, stock options, medical insurance that covers preexisting conditions, upcoming bonus, health-club membership and other goodies that bind you to your employer. If you stay with the firm, you get to keep them all.
Most important, you can renew your commitment to your career and your company by seeking an internal position that uses your most satisfying skills. The employer/employee relationship is like a marriage. It takes work to keep it healthy, particularly when economic conditions and personal agendas create stress and disunity. When things aren't going well on the job, many professionals fix the problem by leaving it behind. Unfortunately, unless they've clearly identified the reasons for their unhappiness, they may trade one set of negatives for another.
Taking stock of yourself and looking for other options internally is like giving a once-happy marriage a second chance. Your renewed enthusiasm and initiative may reawaken management interest in you and generate some surprising possibilities. And if you ultimately move to another firm, you'll leave knowing it's the right choice.
If you decide to seek another position at your company, network internally to learn about other careers and departments. At the same time, respond to posted internal job openings that might allow you to learn new skills and increase your marketability. Just as in an external job search, you should learn as much as possible about suitable internal openings, then tailor your cover letters, resume and interview comments to meet their requirements.
How to Learn about Internal Job Openings
There are two ways to identify other company positions you would enjoy: networking and job postings. Networking is an informal approach that requires initiating meetings with others and talking to them about jobs and departments, regardless of whether there's an opening. Responding to job postings is a reactive process that requires you to read about current openings (via a paper or electronic bulletin board), then prepare a cover letter, resume or application that parallels the job requirements. Let's review specific networking and posting techniques and how to write applicable cover letters.
Networking to Uncover Openings
The most popular networking approaches include:
Initiating and building your own networking circle
Identifying other departments where you might like to work
Meeting with targeted managers to determine if your background, skills and interests match her group's mission
As you might have noticed, this process is similar to the information interviewing techniques. You can use the same questions and evaluation form that is provided for talking with people outside your organization. Your thank-you note after the meeting replaces a cover letter and should include what you like about the department, how your skills and background compliment its purpose and why you'd appreciate being considered for any openings in the future.
A True Story
A sportswear department distribution planner at a New York company spent her days in a cubicle, developing assortment plans and sending merchandise to stores she'd never visited around the country. She worked closely with the buying department, where employees had window offices and left the building each day for lunch and business meetings with vendors anxious to gain their orders. While the distribution planner was paid as much as her buying colleagues, she knew they outranked her and enjoyed their work more. She wanted to be one of them but didn't know how to make a move.
One day, she left her cubicle for a rare trip to a regional store convention. She was excited about finally meeting some of the store managers to whom she had sent sportswear these many years.
Once settled in her seat on the plane, she was surprised to see the merchandise manager for the sportswear department coming down the aisle. This man was the head honcho, two levels up from the buyers whose jobs she envied. She could hardly contain her excitement when he took the seat beside her.
As the plane headed for Pittsburgh, they conversed about their jobs and the circumstances that had brought each of them to New York, Much to her surprise, she found him to be a nice person, not the hard-driving executive she expected.
Before long, the manager started asking her about her career and whether she had ever considered going into buying. She couldn't believe her ears! Mustering all her professional reserve, she said quietly but firmly that she had often thought about it, but didn't know how to make the move. He continued talking with her and had her accompany him to a dinner she wouldn't otherwise have attended with the managers of several large stores. Within two weeks, he requested her transfer to his department, where she stayed for several years, enjoying a window office and frequent lunches with vendors.
This young professional was a belated, but lucky, pawn of fate. If she had taken the initiative to talk to the manager sooner, she wouldn't have stayed so long in her cubicle. If her inaction seems uncomfortably familiar, start networking now. You don't need a plane trip to gain access to a senior executive.
Visit human resources. This department is growing in clout because of technical and legal employment complexities and changing employee demographics. Due to its knowledge of the company's personnel needs, the HR department is in a unique position to help you locate satisfying career paths and opportunities. If necessary, ask for advice on the QT from personnel professional whom you trust. An informed person may even serve as an intermediary with department heads you might like to meet.
If human resources calls you about a job opening in a department where you have been networking, ask your contact about the specific requirements of the position, then send the appropriate manager a cover letter and resume addressing those needs. This approach will give you an advantage over competitors who lack friends in personnel.
Talk to your manager. When I advise job hunters to mention their interest in transferring to their boss or HR coordinator, they sometimes look at me in total disbelief. While some managers doggedly guard their best workers from the clutches of other departments, others want subordinates to move to more satisfying and challenging positions. These managers know that such moves reflect well on their ability to encourage and mentor their employees.
If your manager is a good networker, he can advise you on whom to call for information interviews. In fact, he may even make appointments for you. If you're going to leave his department, he'll want everyone to know it's with his blessing.
If one of his cronies should offer you a position, tell your boss about it and give him the credit. Write a thank-you note/cover letter to your potential manager singing your boss's praises. A genuine compliment is a rare and special gift. Your mentor will remember it if you ever need another favor from him.
Get to know people in task forces, company sports teams, professional seminars, United Way campaigns or other company- sponsored activities. International Business Machines Corporation offers a networking module during its career-planning workshops. The networking session follows a period devoted to brainstorming on potential careers in IBM's fast-changing environment, and with good reason. It's amazing to watch a diverse group offer each other leads on jobs throughout the company. Apparently, the adage "You're no more than seven people away from anyone in the world" is true. Within a company, even one the size of IBM, you're probably no more than two or three people away from your next job.
Example Cover Letters Derived from Networking
Here are two cover letters tailored to positions uncovered through networking. The first one is the result of approaching the hiring manager directly. The second comes from a contact initiated by the writer's supervisor.
January 23, 199X
Ms. Robin Courins
Thank you for getting together with me to discuss the skills and personality traits needed to be a successful technical sales rep. As an engineer, I've always felt I was marching to the beat of a different drummer. Now that I've talked to you, I think I've found my true calling.
It seems that technical sales require a combination of skills not typically needed in engineering. While I've enjoyed creating new products, I think I would be more effective applying my technical knowledge in a situation where I can explain to customers how the particular features of our hardware can benefit them. Until you pointed it out, I never realized that most engineers are neither adept nor interested in working with customers, but I am. No wonder I've felt like the ugly duckling.
I was particularly gratified when you suggested I apply for a sales opening you are currently trying to fill. As per your request, I've attached a resume that will give you a better idea of my experience and how I can use it to satisfy our clients' needs. I look forward to seeing you again next week to discuss why I am the right person for the job.
April 19, 199X
Phone: X 217
Phone: X 344
I understand from my manager, Rolanda Hoover, that you have an opening for a merchandise coordinator in the home furnishings area. When she recommended I contact you, I was really excited, because I'm looking for a new challenge. Based on what Rolanda tells me, your position may be it.
During my five years with Carpenters, I have worked in house wares and linens, investigating merchandise trends, accompanying buyers on buying trips, making recommendations for new lines and coordinating our spring fling promotion. You may have heard of the new group of pillows I developed, which added an extra $100,000 to our bottom line its first year.
I am sending you my resume per Rolanda's suggestion. I'll call next week to see if you have any preliminary questions and schedule an interview if you think it's appropriate. Working for Rolanda has been a great experience, but I'm ready to try my hand at something new. She says that I couldn't find a better manager/mentor than you, other than herself, of course.
I look forward to talking with you soon.
Cover Letters for Internal Corporate Use
Dated: Oct 04,2013
- Use Personalized Letters Instead of Resumes to Differentiate Yourself
- The Best Way to Get a Great Job Fast
- What Is Outsourcing And What Are Other Self directed Careers?
- How to Gain Attention
- The Employment Game: New Times, New Rules
- Cover Letters for Networking Contacts
- How to promote yourself?
- Cover Letters for Help-Wanted Ads
- The Results You Can Expect from Sales Letters
- Match Your Cover Letter with Ad Requirements