When applying for a role internally, there is often little support. But you can do a lot to help yourself by applying the same principles to the process as you would for an external role

Many employees feel that the only way to secure new challenges and promotions is to leave their existing employer. Why? In most cases the best opportunities are often accessible internally with the same company. When moving to a new role externally applicants are likely to be offered a similar role that utilises their existing skills and experience. It’s rare to secure a completely new challenge. And, when making an external move the individual has to start building their reputation all over again. In my opinion the external move should be the last resort when all other factors remain the same.

But for those individuals who are looking for internal opportunities, who is there to support them throughout the selection process? It’s unusual for a recruiter to assist an individual who is looking to move internally, it’s their job to entice them out of their current organisation and to place them into a role where they can charge a placement fee. Therefore, existing employees are not going to approach an agency to tempt them to leave, but having support through the process would be a huge benefit to their career.

Therefore, it would seem that there is little or perhaps no support given to individuals that would like to move internally to achieve the promotion or change of role they are looking for. And yet, within this current market, more employers are identifying applicants internally as opposed to reaching out to the external market. Firstly, it’s cheaper, and secondly, they have the talent sitting within the company – individuals who understand the systems, the environment and what is expected from them.

Before looking to move internally, it’s essential for you to assess whether the move is realistic. For example, if you have only been in your current role for six months, then it’s unlikely that your manager will approve the move. It’s also imperative for you to inform your manager of your intentions, short and long term goals, so they can actually help you to achieve success and have some influence with a hiring manager.

Competition in the job market is fierce, and this is no different for those looking to move internally. Internal applicants can sometimes forget that they need prepare in the same way as they would for an external interview, so below I have highlighted some common mistakes made by internal applicants:
• Do you have an up to date CV? Many Internal applicants pay less attention to the content and presentation of their CV and fail to even update it on a regular basis. They believe that it won’t make a difference when applying for internal roles, however, what they fail to realise is that this is their first opportunity to make a great first impression.

Don’t assume that the interviewer understands your role fully on the basis that they work for the company. Ensure to provide all the details and leave nothing out. By providing limited information, you may cost yourself the opportunity.

• There really is no secret to keeping cool, it’s simple: preparation and practise. Internal applicants are renowned for assuming that they have a good chance of a job offer just because they’re already working for the company. They often forget that they need to prepare and practise in the same way as they would for any external interview.

For many, they take months to prepare for a wedding, to move house or to go on holiday and yet for some reason job seekers take hardly anytime at all to prepare for an interview!

We practice our driving technique before we take a test, actors practice their lines before the actual take, expectant mothers practice childbirth before labour and golfers practice their shots before a game. And yet, for some reason, job seekers spend no time at all to practice for an interview.

I often hear from people that they didn’t have the time to prepare or practise for an interview which could potentially enable them to work in a better role, one which could lead to a higher income and therefore allowing them a life with more choices and job satisfaction. I encourage people to think back to when they were at school or university and ask them how much time they took to prepare for their exams. Did you receive the results you had hoped for or can you now own up after all these years and acknowledge that perhaps you didn’t prepare enough?

‘By failing to prepare you prepare to fail.’ – Benjamin Franklin

• Where do you really add value? Why should an employer pay you a salary with added benefits if you can’t even identify what your transferable skills include? Start thinking about how your employer receives a return on their investment (ROI) by employing you. If you find it difficult to recognise where you add value, then ask the people who know you well – you might be surprise by their response!

Internal applicants can be known to hold back on information with regards to their skills and experience, hence reducing their chances of securing the role. Whilst it can feel awkward to sell yourself to someone that you already know or have worked alongside, it’s important that you promote yourself in the same way that other applicants do. Make sure you provide the same amount of detail as you would for any external role.

Your transferable skills are what make you eligible for a role. They are essential to your career success and it’s important for you to reflect on these and to be able to develop them, add to them, and speak about them confidently.

• Internal applicants forget to follow up after the interview, partly because they do not have a recruitment agency calling them for their feedback, but also because they feel it’s not necessary. Sending a brief email thanking the person for taking the time to meet with you and highlighting your suitability for the role can make all the difference.

Seven essentials when looking to secure internal roles:
1. Dress for success. Far too many people underestimate the importance of the way they look and how they are perceived by others. It takes only five seconds to form an opinion about an individual. It is an unconscious process and as much as it may feel unfair, image does matter within the work place.

Dress to impress regardless of dress policies within the organisation. Make an effort and show that you’re interested.

2. Utilise your contacts by networking internally, speak to your peers within that team and find out more about the work involved and the person who will be interviewing you. What does the manager expect from their team, what are their values within the department? Where can you add value, and is this role really what you want?

3. Be enthusiastic and don’t be afraid to ask for the job if that’s what you want! So many people forget to mention that this is a perfect opportunity for them and to leave a lasting impression as to where they will add value to the role.

4. Be aware of your Personal Brand. What does your name say about you? If you were to put your name into a Google search engine what information could your employer find out about you? Ensure that you’re creating a professional impression online. If you are a user of Facebook ensure that you switch on your settings so that only those you are connected to can see your posts. Do not allow anyone to ‘tag’ pictures of you on their page if they could be seen to be inappropriate!

5. Create a LinkedIn Profile. A 100% complete LinkedIn profile demonstrates that you take yourself seriously as a professional within your industry. Become an expert within your field by joining relevant groups, start actively taking part in discussions by sharing your industry knowledge.

6. Build Rapport. It’s important that you build a good rapport with your manager, work colleagues and those you have yet to meet. Ask yourself: ‘What do people really think about me when they meet me for the first time?’ Why not ask your partner, friends or colleagues that you work with?

7. Who knows you exist? Building your network takes time and effort, and means speaking with strangers, people who don’t even know that you exist within the organisation. Utilise your existing contacts to help you to build new relationships and always show enthusiasm and willingness to help as you never know who might notice!”

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Nikki Hutchison is the founder of Chilli Pepper Global (www.chillipepperglobal.com), which advises job-seekers on every aspect of the job seeking process guiding you step by step whether you are looking to move internally or externally.

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