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Submitted by fepark on


I am throwing my hat in the ring for an internal project manager position.

WSJ Career Journal has this column addressing the topic:
(synopsis: do the due diligence, do not take it for granted that you have an advantage coming from within the company).

I am wondering if the audience can provide additional tips/advice or warn of pitfalls to avoid in this scenario.

Thanks in advance.

arun's picture

I would suggest that you approach and prepare for this interview as if it was an interview with a company and people you were meeeting for the first time ie an external interview.

I had a similar opportunity many years ago which I blew because I assumed that as the manager already knew me and my work ethic etc, that I automatically had the job. My manager commented later that she felt I did not sell my self well for the post.

Good luck

fcch_mngtools's picture

My 2¢ ... Don't assume that they know you, your accomplishments, nor your talents.

Internal recruiting is competitive and you neeed to really show your stuff. Remember, your current manager/boss may try to find reasons to keep you there. The arguements of the hiring boarrd have to overcome any resistance of your current departement.

You will have to know your company inside and out. How will you be able to contribute even further to the company in the new postion than you are already.

You will, imho, want to advise you current boss that you are going after the new position. This way, there will be less resistance on his/her part to let you go. Other than him/her, ... I wouldn't be to flash with the news around the office.

I missed a good posting a few years ago on an internal promotion because my boss (then) got sandbagged by the news before I had a chance to speak to him.

Best of luck, ... Let us know how it goes.

fepark's picture
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I neglected to mention that my manager was the one who told me about the opportunity and the one who suggested me as an internal candidate. This manager is not in the same chain of command as the hiring manager for the position though.

Thanks for the advice so far.

US41's picture


When you hear of an opening internally, before you apply, go visit the hiring manager. Schedule some time with them for fifteen minutes and explain you want the job and why, and then ask them how to best go about applying for it during the conversation.

I have moved internally in my company 8 times in 10 years. 5 of those were due to company restructuring. 3 of those times I made the move, and each time it saved my butt during a merger.

Each time, I used that technique:

1. Find the open job
2. Find out who the hiring manager is. Get another manager friend (you are building a network, right?) to back up through the job posting tool your company uses and find out who it is.
3. If they are local, stop by their office or cube when they don't look busy, introduce yourself, be casual, calm, and nonchalant, and ask about the job, if it is really an opening or just a formality because they have someone picked already, leave them a resume, and go back and apply if all goes well.

Mark and Mike probably know how to do this better than I do, but this is how I have survived 3 major acquisitions so far when everyone was climbing over one another to escape terminal departments for higher ground.

fepark's picture
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I spent time speaking with 2-3 important team members and effectively got their buy-in and support. Hiring manager however had in mind someone with a certain background other than mine - I actually had discerned that this might be a problem prior to the meet in speaking with the team members. Still attempted to convince him otherwise in the face to face. Ultimately we mutually agreed that it wasn't a good fit. Thanks to everyone for the advice.

Mark's picture
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Sorry it didn't work out.

It's an interview. There are no half measures. "here is no try. There is only do and not do."

And, don't forget to go back to the hiring manager and thank them for the opportunity and let them know you'd be pleased to be considered again for other openings they have (this is gentle flattery, as I assume you thought about this and knew the manager well enough to want to work for him.) No one else is doing this, because they're not playing the game right. Which is to say, to win.