I am considering applying to other positions within my company. These positions are different from my current job but I ultimately aspire to work in one of said positions.

There are no internal protocols for informing current managers about applying to other jobs within the company. I am not sure if my manager will receive a notification that I've applied to a job. Should I tell my manager I am applying to these positions? I ask because I do not want to form a contentious relationship with my manager as the jobs I'm applying for are longshots.

Edit: Thank you for the replies everyone. After doing some more research I found the only stipulation is that I have to inform my manager if I am offered an interview for the position. This leads me to believe my manager is not informed upon applying. I've bolded the previously incorrect section for reference.

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    Have you considered first discussing this with whomever you'll be reporting to or working with in that role, to find out how much of a long shot it would be. Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 17:15
  • I'm surprised your manager doesn't have to approve your internal job applications - if only to stop people applying for "longshots" where they have no chance of getting an offer (because of wrong qualifications, inappropriate experience within the company, etc), and are just wasting management's and HR's time by applying.
    – alephzero
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 18:57
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    Just some life advice, your current manager is always the person whoever is hiring you would love to talk to the most. They are best equipped to say what kind of employee you are. You should always be trying to get them to testify on your behalf if you can, whether internal or external. (Obviously external applications make it more difficult, but I've been at places where it was not only not a problem, but actively encouraged!)
    – corsiKa
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 22:51

7 Answers 7


Should I tell my manager about applying to a different (internal) job?


You definitely should tell your manager, and in most companies I have worked at you have to in order to apply for other openings. Even if there is no policy at you organization, most likely your manager will find out anyway so let them know so it doesn't look as though your trying to go behind their back.

I ask because I do not want to form a contentious relationship with my manager as the jobs I'm applying for are longshots

I would consider this action very carefully as you don't have as much control here as you might think. Your manager may or may not react well to you not being happy with your current position. (or feeling the need to look elsewhere in the company)

While most managers would probably be okay with this, some will not. I am not sure I would be apply to openings that I most likely won't get and take that risk.


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    Talking to your manager about it will also let them know that is the direction you want to take your career. So even if getting the position is a longshot now, your manager may be able to help you get the experience you need to get the position later from within your current position. Good managers want their employees to grow and will help them do it.
    – Seth R
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 17:58
  • If the aimed position is a better paying position then there is not much to worry about, but if it is in the same level then it can indicate that your manager is not as good as the other manager and this could be an issue depending on your manager personality. But your best option is to tell him and show him some reason for the change that is not him being a bad manager (even if that is the actual case).
    – Mandrill
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 20:37
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    Even if your manager is reasonable about you looking for other positions and doesn't take it personally, s/he will have to take that into account. If someone at the department has to get formation/promotions/whatever, your manager has lots of incentives to support the workers who want to stay with him/her. And if HR asks him/her who can be "made redundant", well...
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 21:02

Your manager will likely be called for a reference. You don't want that call to be a surprise. It could affect the reference.

  • @hkBst The entire point of this answer is that the OP does not know when that point will come. It could happen the day they submit the application for all they know.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 17:39

Does your manager consider you a valued employee?

TLDR: If so, yes. If not, start looking for another job regardless.

The reason I'm asking is because at most places I've worked, the policy was that we'd rather lose a good employee to a different department then to a different company. In fact, applying for jobs internally was usually encouraged and seen as a positive thing, with internal applicants being preferred for any position.

It seems to me that most other answers assume your current manager will punish you for trying to leave, but have you considered they might reward you? Ideally they'll reward you with the job you want, but if not, at the very least you have signaled you are looking for more or a different challenge. This might be a reason for them to offer you incentives to stay (promotion, pay rise, more challenging work) or a different position in the company more in line with your ambitions. I've seen this happen lots of times, and was involved with hiring and promoting employees myself.

Smart managers know that failing to meet an employees ambition will ultimately cause them to leave, which is almost always a loss. Lots of companies adopt strategies to prevent this, with internal mobility as the number one tool at their disposal.

Of course this hinges on the question: Would the company want to keep you? Don't just assume they wouldn't, hiring 2 new people is more expensive than 1. Also, the fact that you're there presumably means you are of value to the company.

Lastly, consider that if you are in fact not deemed worthy to be kept on the payroll, you are probably not deemed worthy of promotion or pay rise either, and "go looking for another job" would be good advice to most people in your position.

  • There seems to be a misunderstanding. Manager doesn't punish you, they allocate the resources where it's best for their team. The team doesn't benefit from investments (money and knowledge) into someone who's leaving in near future.
    – Chris
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 17:44
  • @Chris They allocate resources where it's best for the company is the point I'm making. If a manager puts his teams interest before the company's interest, they themselves will be leaving in the near future.
    – Douwe
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 7:42

Note: Other answers seem to be absolutely sure about the correct thing to do. Maybe it's country-specific, but from my experience in Europe there is no one-fits-all rule.

It depends.

If you're working in a small company where everybody knows everyone, then you should tell it to avoid the impression of going behind your manager's back. It won't stay secret anyway.

If working in a big company, then you should not tell, because it will backfire if you don't get the other job. The same rules apply as for external interviews. Your boss will lose you and probably never see you again. Why should s/he use the limited budget to invest into you? You've excluded yourself from any growth opportunities.

Of course there are exceptions and a big grey area.

Therefore you should try to get more information. For example casually talk to the guy who switched departments last month. You might also deduce something from following questions... Do the old and the new manager know each other? If yes, tell it. Is HR a black box and people question if they're actually working sometimes? If yes, don't tell. ...

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    P.S. I've worked in "20 persons" companies as well as "300.000 people" companies. There is no one-fits-all answer.
    – Chris
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 22:20
  • There are 2 persons who could know the answer: 1. HR managers, 2. The old and new managers' common superior.
    – max630
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 11:29
  • @Chris Yes it is for a very large multinational.
    – HK47
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 14:17
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    @HK47 In that case don't tell. HR should be professional enough to handle it discreetly. Departments are acting autonomously, therefore optimizing their budget on your costs if you're going to leave, even if it's negative for the company as a whole. Also it should be easy to find someone who switched teams and asked how he did it.
    – Chris
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 17:39
  • +3 / -3 votes. Would be interesting to know why my answer is so controversial...
    – Chris
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 19:40

My company has a policy stating I do need to inform manager - so my first internal (lateral) move, I did notify manager - she appeared supportive, even said she would talk to hiring manager on my behalf, and get back to me. Then poof, never heard from HR regarding my application, never heard from hiring manager and worse my manager never communicated with me. I was terrified for a month I had set myself to be fired. So then I applied for position #2, I marked the HR application that I did tell my manager I was applying (I did not, as I figured our previous conversation in job #1 application did include me stating, even if nothing transpired, I would continue to keep my eyes open for future opportunities within the company - it is a very large company). So I interviewed, 2 sets with 4 people. Then I had feedback from other managers that they would love to see me in this new position. Then I had follow-up with one of the higher management team and they asked me directly am I still interested in the position. I said yes. Then silence due to travels/meetings, etc. About 3 weeks later I get an email from my boss, "Ok- so you might have mentioned this the other day...." and attached to it was an email from hiring management that they were going to extend me an offer (This was the first I heard). But I tired to send an email explaining, but current boss was throwing a tantrum and sending very stern emails to me. Whatever I was saying just continued to upset her. So finally I sent her an email stating basically, I was planning to sit with you if an offer was received....you shared a confidential email with me, as I was not aware of the pending offer. At least she stopped with the emails. After my first experience, why would I tell her about my continued applications internally? She definitely was not supportive, and seeing the emails she sent me on learning I had interviewed, I know I did the right thing - she was not going to be supportive in my search or my goal for growth within.

With that being said, I did work in a separate company once - I had a great manager, who encouraged me to look to grow after a few years with the team. I am so appreciative of his nudges, I would have never gone outside my walls of security without his encouragement. To this day, I still use him as a reference in any job searches I do. (YEARS later).

My 2 cents: know your boss, and trust your instincts.

And yes, I have told some office workers about the email exchange, their advice was to AFTER signing on the dotted line if presented, forward the email chain to HR...if I do not get, still send to HR - my boss broke confidentiality. I don't know if I will actually do that (not my style, as I believe in karma) but I am still shocked by it all.

Good luck to any and all who are in job searches.


Even though there are no internal protocols about it, you should still tell your manager about it. So he/she can plan ahead of time on what to do in order to fill the job that you will be leaving out. And I do think it wouldn't be a problem, because it is just a different internal job, not on a different company.

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    It is not asker's responsibility to make manager's job easier in this respect.
    – hkBst
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 10:58

Sometimes it's better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

It's your business if you want to pursue another position. By telling your boss about the interview, they will know you want to leave. They will view you as someone with one foot out the door and may exclude you from decisions, not waste too much time on you.

That's one side of the coin.

Then there's the other viewpoint. If you have a good boss, (one who wants you to be happy and doesn't take it personally that you want to leave), you can be open and explain you have an interview for a new opportunity. You haven't been offered a job yet so you can explain it that you are interviewing to learn about the opportunity.

Either way it could backfire.

Leaders talk to one another. If your boss looks upon you interviewing as a hit on their management style, they will bad mouth you. If they are a secure individual, they'll not get involved and wish you the best. If you are that concerned about it backfiring, your best bet is to look outside the company and leave for an external job.

  • this post is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing it into a better shape?
    – gnat
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 14:31
  • I found it difficult to read too, so I made an edit to reformat it Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 12:58

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