I've been working at my current position for 2 years now. New boss does not see my value, so I plan to move to another position. I got an internal offer for lateral move and accepted it.

Few days later, there is new higher level position posted. I'm really interested and I think I have a chance at getting the position. Different HR recruiter sent email to me asking whether I just accepted an offer which is the lateral move position.

I don't know whether it will push me to the bad position. I don't know whether there is politics in that. Hope anyone can share some experience.


Thank you so much for all the answers.

I contacted 2nd job HR and she replied me that she is not going to push me forward because I accepted the 1st job. That really upset me. I'm qualified for this position. Just because of the timing, I have to take the lateral move instead of taking the promoted one. Is it against some labor law? I just felt it's not fair.

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    Hi welcome to The Workplace! Could you clarify what your question is? Are you asking about the ethics of applying to another internal position when you have another internal offer in hand or have you already accepted a new position? – jcmack Dec 3 '18 at 21:12
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    I don't know if we can answer this as it will be company-specific. I've worked for employers that only let a candidate apply for a single internal position at a time (to avoid bidding wars over internal candidates). I've worked for others where it didn't matter. – dwizum Dec 3 '18 at 21:24
  • Hi jcmack, I have already accepted the first one (lateral move), then I saw the second one (higher level). I applied for the second one. I'm afraid I will be shot down for the second one because I accepted the first one. At the same time, will I be in the bad position when first departments' leaders know I applied for the second one? I'm afraid they will question about my ethics. – Caroline Dec 3 '18 at 21:54
  • Applying to this second job is poor timing after you've accepted a position. From an objective stance, you'll look like a ladder climber. This compounded being that these are both internal positions. You risk losing both new opportunities and your current position by pursing the higher ranked position. – jcmack Dec 4 '18 at 0:16

It doesn't really matter whether you are accepting a job internally or externally. Once you have accepted a job, it is not cool to renege on that and go for a different job. Essentially, you are letting them know that you will jump ship with no regards to your agreements.

With an external job, you will burn bridges with the job that you accepted and then give up. Sometimes that is worthwhile anyway, if the job you go for instead is worth the burned bridge.

There is also the danger that you don't get the second job, which may result in you burning a bridge and ending up with neither job.

For an internal job, burning bridges is much more serious. You are damaging your reputation at the place you currently work. It would be much better to be considered someone whose word is worth something and then wait a couple of years for the step up.

However, it is possible that what you are doing will still work - you need to talk to the hiring managers and see if it is too late to apply for that job, since you're already accepted the other. If you see anything less than an enthusiastic "go for it!", it is better to take what you've already agreed to take, and wait.


The ability to apply for an another internal position just after accepting a new position within the company is dictated by company policy. Places I worked have restricted the ability to apply to a new position within 6 months of starting a new position. In one place the system would disable the submit button until you were allowed to apply, others had the system send a reject notice as soon as you applied.

The hiring manager for the 2nd position contacting you is a sign that something in their system is telling them you recently accepted a position.

The company wants to limit your ability to waste company resources by constantly shifting jobs. Every applicant being evaluated and interviewed takes resources. Moving people within the company takes resources. Also if they have to restart the process of filling the job you now want to reject that wastes resources.

The company wants to avoid bidding against itself. They usually make candidates who accept a position withdraw from all other open applications with the company. This generally also applies to current employees making internal transfers.

You could talk to the second hiring manager, but if these types of polices exist they may not be able to do anything to help you apply for the second position.

Burning bridges within the place you currently work is not an advisable thing to do. Quickly switching again may not help your long term prospects with the company.

  • "the system would disable the submit button" haha :) simple frontend/HTML prevention. Did anyone got past that? (if the system simply allowed a new submission request, reenabling the button would be enough... One could claim simply that the system accepted it ;) – CPHPython Dec 4 '18 at 12:00

Don't renege on the job you just recently, just go ahead and apply. Your new department should understand that the opportunity is new and it's not like you're going to here yes or no immediately. Just go for it.

Another thing you can do to grease things a little bit is just talk to your new boss and explain the situation. It might be a little awkward, but it's way better than keeping it all to yourself.

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