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Applying for Internal Positions: 5 Ways to Look Great...

A Capitalist Reader Writes....

Ever written a blog entry about tip/strategies for employees applying for positions within their existing teams at a company?  I’m looking to make a move and an upward slot opened up for my Boss’s Boss that I’m trying to elbow my way into.  Kind of a different dynamic when they know you, they know what you’ve delivered (here, but not necessarily at other companies/positions), know some of your strengths and opportunity areas, etc.  Help a sister out...

-MR from OKC


Hey MR - 

Have I ever written that post?  No - so let's rectify that now.

Your situation sounds a little unique, since your boss's boss probably knows at least a little something about you, right?  Unfortunately, that's not the case for everyone who's applying for an internal position, so I'm going to walk before I run with my advice.  Follow me?  Let's go...

Here's My Top 5 Ways to Look Great When Applying for Internal Positions

1. Never apply online before you've sought out the hiring manager in question and set up some time with them to chat about who the hell you are.  Big company, small company, doens't matter.  Players play and ballers ball.  If you see a position you want, ask for 15 minutes with the hiring manager and go meet them.  Learn a bit about what they are looking for and have your resume ready for them.  You can apply later.  

2. Once you've had that conversation and hopefully got the hiring manager excited about you as a candidate, set up some time with your current manager and tell them you're interested in that spot.  KISS THE RING. Tell them they've developed you to the point where you're interested in other things.  Promise a cool transition and help after the fact.  You must KISS THE RING and respect the current boss.  But not before you talk to the future boss.  It's OK to tell the current boss you've already pinged the potential future boss, which tells him it's going to be harder to ruin your candidacy if that was part of his master plan.

3. Follow up with the potential future boss with a portfolio of your work.  What are you most proud of?  What do you think will allow that potential boss to see you have the skills/potential to do the job in question?

4. After giving him the portfolio of work, follow up with the future boss and give him a 30/60/90 day plan.  The intro should say that you're swagging it to the best of your ability since you're not currently doing the job.  I KNOW THIS SOUNDS CORNY, AND IT IS.  Do the 30/60/90 day plan anyway.  It shows initiative.

5. Apply for the job online.  No one likes to see an eager beaver apply 2 hours after it's open.  Do steps #1 through #4, act like you've been there before and then basically apply as an afterthought.

Player play, ballers ball.  Good luck.




Great advice! So often internal candidates get this badly wrong & then feel wronged when they don't get the position (and have annoyed their own manager in the process).

Thanks Kris!



What advice would you give for someone working in a very large company where hiring managers aren't listed on job postings?

In this case, job postings do have contacts, but they're the recruiter who often times won't even respond to your email and/or won't give out the name of the hiring manager when they do. Plus, the company is so big that it is often very difficult to find the hiring manager for that posting.


We just did a hire for a management position and opened it only to internal candidates. All of the applicants currently report to the position they applied for. We just told them who was selected and who wasn't... meaning who didn't get the job and now reports to the guy that did. Any advice for a smooth transition moving forward from this?

A. Smith

This post was very timely. I immediately put this into practice with an internal. While my organization is larger and access to the HM is limited. I facilitated an introduction to the TAM. And now we've successfully moved through steps 1, 2, and 5. Within my org, formal interviews are not scheduled until the online application has happened. I am exited for my candidate's progress.

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