Switching Jobs Internally: How to Apply & Manage the Transition

Woman packing up her desk after switching jobs internally.

A Guide to Transferring Jobs Within Your Company

We all get frustrated with our jobs from time to time, and in those moments, you might find yourself looking at your coworkers with envy, thinking about how easy they have it, or how much more exciting their work is than yours. You might even want their jobs — literally.

That envy, though, can signal something exciting for your career. Changing jobs inside your current company has some big benefits: Not only is your employer more likely to take a chance on you — after all, you’ve already proven yourself — but some companies specifically have programs that facilitate internal transfers of employees, making it easy to make a change.

Of course, successfully transitioning to a new role requires some careful navigation. So, if you’re looking to make a lateral move at your current company, follow the tips and tricks laid out in this guide, from how to find a new role to how to make the transition smoothly.

How to Find the Right Role at Your Company

It’s easy to look at the other open roles in your company with a “grass is always greener on the other side” mindset. But jumping into a career transition without doing research is a recipe for failure. First things first, look up your company’s policies on lateral movements.

Why? You will want to show respect to the company’s policies and guidelines, so it can be consistent in the process, which allows you to transfer under the best possible conditions.

You should also research the specific opportunity that you’re interested in. Do your best to learn as much as possible about the potential role you’d like to move into by speaking to other employees currently in the role, sitting in their meetings, taking notes and asking the right questions. Not only will you gain a better understanding of whether the role is right for you, but you will also show your employer how interested and prepared you are.

How to Find the Right Role at Your Company

How to Make Your Case

Before applying to a new position, you’ll want to reach out to your manager. And yes, you might feel nervous talking to your manager about potentially leaving your team — but this step is critical. In fact, you must speak to your manager before you approach anyone else about your move.

And if you’ve made up your mind that you want to apply to another role, make sure that you are ready to lay out a compelling argument about why you should be allowed to do so.

Try to frame your transfer request in terms of how it will benefit the company. Your move could benefit the company because you would add value to the brand in a new role, build skills the team is missing or fit better in the new role, making the office more harmonious.

If possible, highlight more than one benefit. Prepare a list, and ensure that all the listed benefits are highly desirable. When your company sees that they have a vested interest in allowing you to switch roles, they will find it difficult to deny your request.

This can’t be overstated. You will most likely receive a positive response if you can show a clear benefit — or return on investment — to your employer. But you can’t expect them to identify those benefits by themselves. It’s critical that you provide the information.

And whatever you do, don’t give ultimatums. It’s one thing to let your manager know you’re interested in transferring positions, but it’s another entirely to threaten to, or even hint that, you’ll quit unless you’re given the job you have your eye on. Don’t forget: Your manager may not have the ultimate say in whether your transfer request is approved.

What’s more, there’s no better way to ruin your chances of getting what you want than by displaying a bad attitude. Managers don’t like to be threatened or issued demands.

How to Make Your Case

How to Navigate the Transition

To avoid hurt feelings with your former manager, and start things off on the right foot with your new manager, a clear transition plan is a must as you prepare to move into a new role.

Set up a meeting with your manager or your successor, if appropriate, in order to co-create a transition plan. Discuss any issues both people need to be aware of — think: passwords, upcoming meetings, pending client requests, unanswered emails or any other outstanding business. Not only will this set you up for success, but it will help ensure that the transfer actually goes through. After all, you must admit: Without a plan, there really is nowhere to go!

At the same time, you should make sure that you’re getting ready for your new role. After all, just because your official start date hasn’t arrived doesn’t mean that you can’t do some prep work. To ensure you hit the ground running, begin building relationships with your new team and learning more about what you’ll be doing — and, perhaps most importantly, how you can succeed at it.

To do this, set up one-on-one meetings with your new team members so that you can get to know everyone on a personal level. This will increase the odds of a seamless integration. This is also a prime time to connect with your soon-to-be manager and ask if there are any resources you should review or research you should start. Read up on anything they say!

Whatever you do, just don’t check out at your current job. Remember, you’re looking to stay within your organisation, and reputation precedes itself. If you stop giving it your all in your current role, word of mouth may spread, and a new hiring manager may be reluctant to work with you. Your goal is to maintain your reputation as a great employee and continue to show your commitment to the organisation you're with, even if you’re not currently working for the ideal department or team you have envisioned just yet.

How to Navigate the Transition

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