What are the key considerations before applying for an internal position?

Spend time in advance to optimize your chances for success
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Andrea Alexander, Technical Service and Development Manager, ShinEtsu Silicones of America, Inc.
Andrea Alexander, Technical Service and Development Manager, ShinEtsu Silicones of America, Inc.

When applying for an internal position, first, understand your motivation behind it. Are you considering a move to expand your skillset? Is this a lateral move? Will this lead to upward mobility? Are you trying to escape a toxic situation?

All of those questions are important in how you go about choosing that next position. Do your research concerning the role you’re interested in. What are the group dynamics? This will help you understand how you will fit into an established culture, if there will be an adjustment period, or if it simply isn’t the right fit. 

What is the corporate visibility? If there’s high visibility, that usually translates to high expectations and could be stressful if that’s not the type of role you were seeking. Understand the expectations of the role and be ready to explain how you would be an asset. There’s always competition, whether it’s internal or external. Be ready to sell yourself. Just because it’s an internal role, which is usually a bit easier than applying for an external position, it still doesn’t guarantee you will be chosen. 

If they support professional development, to what extent? Some organizations have an internal professional development program that’s pretty comprehensive. Is it limited to that offering, or do they support external courses, seminars, etc.? I know it may seem like a silly question to ask since you are applying for an internal position, but sometimes certain groups have different expectations and different cost allocations for development. Never assume everything is the same within an organization. 

Regardless of the motivation behind the desire to apply for an internal position, always keep an up-to-date internal CV in addition to external. When applying for an internal position, the hiring manager and/or interviewers will want to know what you have accomplished in your current role, in addition to most likely asking questions to get a sense of motivational fit (i.e. questions regarding your working style, how you interact with others, etc.). 

They will ask why you want to move from your current role and why do you feel you are the right person for this opportunity. You may even get the coveted “where do you see yourself in five years" question. That is not only important in understanding your drive, but also if the time and money they invest in you will pay off, or if your time will be limited. If your company has a culture where changing roles after a certain number of years is expected, they may not be as concerned with how long you will be in the role, but that puts more emphasis on what you bring to the table.

Have your elevator speech ready, do your research, understand your motivation behind the desire to move, and never fall into the trap of assuming an internal posting will be an easier interview than an external posting.

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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