A guide to applying for an internal position (With tips)

Updated 19 April 2023

Applying for an internal role within an organisation is a great way of changing jobs without switching employers or your work environment. Whether you're interested in transitioning to a different role or want to shift your career focus, seeing what internal job options are available is an excellent choice. Knowing the steps to take when applying for an internal role increases your chances of landing the job. In this article, we define what applying for an internal position means, discuss how to apply for an internal position and provide some tips to help you apply for internal roles.

What does applying for an internal position mean?

Applying for an internal position occurs when a professional loves where they work but seeks a change of responsibility or career. This way, they continue working for the same employer but in a different role, department or location. Getting promoted or transferring to a new position benefits employers and employees in many ways. For the employee, it ensures they increase their salaries, advance their careers and maintain their retirement plans and work benefits. For the employer, it reduces hiring time, saves money on recruitment and strengthens employee engagement.

Related: Internal recruitment: definition, benefits and tips

How to apply for an internal role

Here's how to apply for an internal role in eight steps:

1. Find an internal position

The first step to applying for a new job within an organisation is to find a list of open positions. Knowing all the open positions available helps you determine which roles to apply for and whether they're the right fit for your career goals. This way, you're not wasting time applying for job positions that don't advance your career or move you up the ladder. Cull your list to only include roles you're interested in and meet the expected requirements and qualifications for. Find job listings by:

Checking the organisation's online presence

Most organisations list open positions online, so check your employer's website or social media pages for job listings. The only downside with such job listings is that they're open to the public. This means both internal and external candidates are able to apply for roles, increasing competition. Strive to meet the role's qualifications to eliminate any competition.

Checking career pages and newsletters

Some organisations advertise vacancies to internal candidates first before accepting external applications, giving you a head start. It's possible to find these jobs on your organisation's career page, where HR posts updates regularly. If you want to apply for jobs that are only open to internal employees, sign up for the organisation's newsletter to receive job alerts.

Related: Where to look for jobs: finding your next opportunity

Asking hiring managers

If you're not sure where your organisation announces or lists internal job vacancies, ask the hiring manager or recruitment department. They may give you better insight into your organisation's internal hiring process, giving you a competitive advantage. Once you know where to look, check the page regularly to ensure you don't miss out on any opportunities.

2. Speak to your manager

Before starting the application process, inform your manager. Speaking to your manager first ensures you maintain a positive working relationship with them. Your manager may also put in a good word for you, increasing your chances of getting the job. While it's never easy to tell your manager you want to move or change jobs, be sure to have the conversation with them in an honest and straightforward manner. Emphasise that your desire to apply is not about leaving your current job but rather seeking the opportunity to grow and advance.

3. Familiarise yourself with the job application process

After speaking to your manager or supervisor, familiarise yourself with the job application process. Organisations usually have an internal job application process that they expect employees to follow to qualify. Don't assume that because you're already an employee, you're able to get away with breaking the rules or not following instructions. You may not get a pass if you don't follow the application guidelines.

4. Update your CV

As part of your internal job application preparation process, update your CV. Updating your CV ensures your qualifications match the position you're applying for, improving your candidacy. Read the job description and note repeated skills, keywords and phrases. Include these in your CV to make yourself a perfect fit for the role. You may also want to pay attention to any transferable skills you have for the new role. Remember also to customise your cover letter to target the job posting.

Related: How to update your CV: a complete guide with helpful steps

5. Apply for the job position

Once you know the right way to apply for the internal job position and have updated your CV, apply for it. Submit all the required application materials and follow the application instructions exactly as described. When applying for the internal role, don't assume the hiring manager knows exactly what you do and how well you do it. Show your passion and enthusiasm for the new role and your desire to stay in your current role in case you're not selected.

6. Prepare for the interview

After applying for the internal role, take time to prepare for an interview. Many internal employees assume they may skip an interview because they already work for the organisation, but this isn't necessarily the case. Most hiring managers and recruiters hold internal candidates to higher standards than external applicants, so your interviewing process may be more stringent. To prepare for your internal job interview:

  • do your research to familiarise yourself with the position you're applying for

  • find answers to commonly asked interview questions

  • practise answering these questions with a colleague or in front of a mirror

  • identify examples that demonstrate your various skills and abilities, including projects you've worked on previously to quantifiable achievements and results

  • check the organisation's website to stay up-to-date with all the latest news

  • make a list of the organisation's requirements for the new job and identify how you're qualified for it

Related: How to prepare for internal interview questions (with tips)

7. Complete the interview

Moving forward in the interviewing process isn't always guaranteed even though you're a current employee. To succeed in your interview, try to differentiate yourself from other candidates by mentioning unique abilities and competencies. Try to focus on your positive attributes and maintain professionalism throughout the interview. Remember to ask smart questions regarding the role to show the interviewer you've researched the role.

Related: 23 questions to ask at internal interviews (with tips)

8. Send a thank you note

Once the internal job application process is over, send a thank you note to your interviewer. In your note, let them know that you appreciate them for considering you for the role. Although sending a thank you note isn't a requirement, it's a simple courtesy that helps you maintain a positive working relationship with the HR department.

Useful tips for applying for internal job positions

Here are some useful tips to help you when applying for a new job position with your current employer:

Seek information, advice and guidance

If there's anyone within the organisation that may help you with your application, spend time interacting and connecting with them. Their referral might make you more competitive, increasing your candidacy. They may also provide valuable insight into the internal job application process. Try to also network with employees who have previously applied for internal roles and succeeded. Ask them for advice and guidance to learn as much as possible about internal job applications.

Take advantage of your insider position

As an employee, you're at an advantage as you have first-hand knowledge of what it's like to work for the organisation. Take advantage of this to illustrate your suitability for the role. For instance, during your interview, mention that you're a natural fit for the position because you're familiar with the organisation's culture and adhere to the high standards currently expected of you. The goal is to show that you're already aware of your surroundings and are able to use them to thrive in the new role.

Don't forget your current role

It's normal to feel excited about switching jobs or careers, but this doesn't mean you neglect your current position. Ignoring your current role creates a bad impression, decreasing your chances of getting hired. It also shows you don't value your commitment to the organisation and only care about your individual career goals. Continue thriving and excelling in your current role as you wait to hear back from the hiring manager regarding your application.

Stay positive

If you don't get the job, try not to feel too bad about it. Other candidates may have better suited for the position, making it essential to stay positive. Ask for constructive feedback from your recruiter and use this information to plan your next internal application process.

Related:

  • Applying to multiple jobs at the same company: what to do

  • How To Write an Internal Position Cover Letter (With Examples)


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