Author Topic: Career question (internal job opening)  (Read 3812 times)


  • Walrus Stache
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Career question (internal job opening)
« on: February 22, 2016, 02:54:17 PM »
My boss is trying to get me promoted up one level and HR is being resistant. In the meantime, a job in my group two levels up has opened. This would move me out from assisting my current boss into handling my own separate projects (I already do some of that, but assist too). I have the expertise for the open position and could train my replacement too--if I can convince the department head I'm qualified that is. My question is about who to raise the issue with first--HR? Or my boss, who is supporting me for a promotion, but who I would be effectively asking to not report to anymore?

My inclination is to alert HR and my boss of my interest almost simultaneously--that way, I'm not asking permission to go for the new job opening, but also not being secretive with current boss (we are a tiny group and I don't believe I can not tell her). I would frame it as 'I so appreciate all your efforts on my behalf but am worried that there is no room for me to move up without making this jump; but I would rather stay and be able to work with you and train my replacement than attempting to leave the company'.

I'm worried that if I make the wrong move, the office politics will bite me. Any input?


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2016, 03:09:26 PM »
Oh how exciting!!  You are so overdue for a promotion.

I'd be inclined to tell your boss first (tell; don't ask), but be prepared to get your resume to HR basically immediately after the conversation.  If your boss is having trouble getting you a promotion, I think she'd understand your decision, and you don't want to risk her finding out FROM HR.  But have your resume on hand to send immediately just in case she tries to block you, somehow. 

If this was external I'd reverse my advice, but I think an internal job hunt has to be undertaken differently.  I've never done this though -- hopefully someone else with more experience will weigh in!


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2016, 03:47:16 PM »
When I applied for my new position, I applied, then told my boss that I had, so there was no surprise.  So HR first then my boss, but only by about 5 minutes.  There were no issues on either side.


  • Bristles
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2016, 06:04:30 PM »
Your boss seems to be very supportive of you. I would ask him his thoughts about it before proceeding.


  • Stubble
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2016, 06:51:40 PM »
Since your supervisor seems supportive, I would start there. This conversation shouldn't be a surprise since s/he already knows you're seeking a promotion. Best case scenario, your current supervisor would be your champion with HR and your prospective manager. I'm thinking something like:

"Thanks so much trying to get me a promotion. I really appreciate your support and encouragement even though it hasn't panned out yet. I'd like to find a role that would allow me to grow with the company. I see that there's a posting for ____, and I think it would be a great opportunity for me. Obviously I'd help train my replacement and transition my current projects. I'd really love to have your support when I approach HR. What you do think?"

Good on you for being proactive and asking to be considered for a promotion. Many people miss out on opportunities because they're uncomfortable putting themselves out there.

Clarifying question: Why do you think HR is reluctant to give you the promotion one level up? Would this reason impact your ability to be promoted into the other job within your group as well?


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2016, 07:16:21 PM »
Two weeks ago, I did a similar thing!  There is a "transformation" effort in my current department that means that my current supervisor will be retiring in June. Our system automatically notifies the current boss that their subordinate has applied for a job within the company.  It doesn't specify which job.  So prior to applying for the job, I contacted the individual who previously had the job and asked whether she thought my qualifications would be considered. She contacted the hiring manager. I actually met with the hiring boss and one of her subordinates prior to formally applying for the job.  After hearing more about the job, I found that I was extremely interested. So I told the hiring manager that I would apply if she was still interested. Before uploading my resume, I told my current boss that I was planning to apply as a courtesy.  Five minutes after I told him, I uploaded my application.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2016, 02:24:48 PM »
I'd find out more about the resistance first. Is it a specific person in HR? What are their objections? Is there a policy that supports their resistance? HR's job is not to get work done, it's to keep employees from suing the company. They are not your friend. But, make sure that's where the resistance is coming from. It could be your boss's boss or even your boss directly.

You should always talk to your boss first before you decide to apply for other roles. When I was a director in a Fortune 500, I had lots of folks come ask if they could work for me. My first question was always, "Have you talked to Bob (your current boss) about this yet?" The answer was almost always no. The smart ones got Bob's support, then had Bob come talk to me about it first. If you can make this happen, your chances of winning go way up, and they can tag-team HR for you.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2016, 03:09:37 PM »
Thanks all! My boss and I will speak tomorrow before I do anything. No idea what to expect from her reaction, but will try to emphasize that I'm very grateful she's been advocating for me, and that I think this will be the best move for me to be taken seriously by our department head and take on more responsibility. Our Hr department seems to have a habit of saying 'x is the policy' with a secret 'but if you ask for y ten times under a full moon, y is possible too' clause. I'm hoping she'll take my desire to investigate the newly opened position in our tiny group as a sign of frustration with HR rather than as a personal slight to her. There's no blanket freeze on promotions, just lots of red tape around them. I'd rather get the small promotion than nothing but what would be best for me is the big one (which I'm qualified for in work experience but not in academic credentials).

Now to get some power poses going I guess!


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2016, 04:02:45 PM »
No idea what to expect from her reaction....
A good boss will be happy for you.  She might also have some pangs about losing a good person - that's just a normal human reaction - but if she is indeed good she will support you here.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Career question (internal job opening)
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2016, 12:24:56 PM »
Well that went...fine. Discussed the position I want, that it may be seen as too big a jump, discussed a compromise of the smaller promotion, discussed general reluctance of my being promoted from higher-ups (did not meet soft goal for year--which is true, but which also was very high). Am not super optimistic at anything at all happening but voiced that it's very important to me that there's a path for me to move forward and be promoted/given more responsibility. Am going to sit tonight until a decision to list the new open position is made, and then will approach the internal people responsible after running my approach past my current boss.

I feel discouraged but will try to push harder on my personal projects while still applying elsewhere. Worst case scenario, I get a raise, reconsideration next year, and keep chugging away with some nice work trips in there as a benefit. I know that's not actually terrible but still don't love feeling unvalued/unseen by the higher ups. Sigh!