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A few months ago, my husband and I bought a house, quite far away from the head office of my company which is where I am based. The commute is not easy; long term, I don't think it's feasible. My company has a sister company that is located in the town I live. Ideally, I would like to work there, but they have no current job openings posted on our internal vacancy site. From experience in this company, I know that sometimes people change positions even though there was never an official vacancy. I would like to let them know I am looking for a switch there and open up some lines of communication in case there is a need in that organisation for someone like me. Basically, I want to send an open application. However, I don't have any contacts there so it's difficult to have an informal conversation about a possible change.

I can look up the managers in the internal directory, so I have found the names of the people I need to contact...but I am wondering how to word it. As it is (somewhat) internal, anything I say in an email or conversation can get around the company. I have already mentioned this to my boss, so that it not the worry. I want to come across as open for a move there not desperate for a move there. Any suggestions?

  • Are you willing to accept a change in position, or are you solely looking for the same job in this other company? Are the two companies doing essentially the same work, or is it quite different work (separate business units)? Are you anxious to move soon, or are you willing to wait months/years until the right position opens up? Is it a "sister company" in the sense that both your company and this company are subsidiaries of a larger company, or is it a subsidiary of your company? Does anyone in your company regularly work with members of their company? – jmac Jun 19 '13 at 7:53
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    I am willing to change position, even a step down if I can get my foot in the door there. I have been commuting for a few months now & I have already had enough. I would like to change asap but would be willing to wait if there was something to wait for. The companies do pretty much the same work, logistics - just for different sectors. It is a subsidiary of my company. If there was no chance of anything coming up there anytime soon, I would start looking elsewhere. None of my contacts work with anyone in the sister company & I personally have never had any contact with anyone there either. – Louise Jun 19 '13 at 8:36
  • I've made an answer which is roundabout but I hope addresses your concerns. If it doesn't, please just make a comment on it and I will do my best to address any issues you have. – jmac Jun 20 '13 at 0:05
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Executive Summary

How you word it is far less important than getting it in front of the right people. The best worded resume in the world will mean nothing if it is never seen by the people making the decisions. Your goal should be to:

  1. Get the blessing of your manager
  2. Find a well-connected HR contact in the new company
  3. Create a speaking relationship with people in the other organization

Get the Blessing of your Manager

Your bosses may not be responsible for deciding if you can transfer, but they can probably raise a stink and prevent it from being an easy task. I'd recommend sitting down and asking for their blessing. I would focus on the following points:

  1. I really like working with you
  2. I really like the company...
  3. ...but my commute is killing me
  4. How can we find a solution?

Perhaps something like this:

Hey boss, I really appreciate your support over the past X years. You've really helped me feel comfortable in this organization, and helped me get better at my job. I feel like this company is a very good fit for me, and I hope that you can help me out a little more.

As you know, I recently bought a house in [Location] which is X minutes away from here. As much as I love this job, the commute is really becoming a struggle. I am looking for ways to stay with the company and reduce that commute.

We have a sister company in [Location] which is much closer to where I live, but unfortunately there aren't any openings on the intra-company transfer site right now. I was wondering if you would help me find a way to move to that company in the next few months if possible, and if you have any other suggestions on how to make this work.

I know that it will be a bit of added work for you while you find a replacement and train them up, so I am more than happy to do what I can to reduce the burden on you.

The goal is to say to your manager, "I really want to do what I can for you and the company, and I want to do what I can to make this easy for you". Your manager will have a hard time refusing the request even if they don't want you to leave, and if they are happy to help you out they may even negotiate something like working from home a day a week until something opens up. At any rate, you want to make sure you are honest with your boss and get their blessing, as chances are the other company will be calling them up to speak about you.

Making sure they know what's up is a key to success.

The Right People

Getting hired within your company requires an inside-person. Each company has those super-talented people who just get things done because they know the right people. You want to find that person (or someone close to them) to maximize your chances.

If your company rarely speaks with people from that company, then a open application is likely to be thrown in a stack and forgotten (who is supposed to manage an intra-company transfer application for a non-specific role?). A speaking relationship with someone in that company will make you a real person and give you an advocate in that organization.

If your HR department has a contact person in that company to send applications to, ask who it is and give them a call to explain your situation. If the HR people in your company are reluctant to do that for whatever reason, schedule an afternoon off and go visit the company you want to apply to, calling ahead (at least a week) to explain that you work at company A, recently moved closer to company B, and would like to see the office and have a chat with HR to see if it would be a good fit even if there isn't a position open at the moment.

At the end of the day, whatever method you use, your goal is to find a contact within HR who you get along with decently and would feel comfortable with chatting every now and again (and who hopefully feels the same about you).

Create Relationships

Business is about people.

There is no need to be fake or a salesman, but leverage your contact. You can honestly ask your contact, "I would love to learn a bit more about what it's like working for Company B, would you be willing to discuss it over drinks sometime?"

Disclaimer: Change drinks for coffee or whatever is appropriate. Be careful if the person is the opposite gender. All standard common-sense rules apply for human interaction and I'm not going to list them all out.

If you actually get along decently with them, meeting up with their friends inside the company every now and again will help build a network. If people know your face, your chances of being put in touch with the right person inside the company dramatically increase. Rather than just being suggested for positions specifically opened up for intra-company transfers, you have a chance at having people work to find you a place (or even create one where one doesn't exist).

Patience

Speaking with your boss may allow you to lessen the burden and make it easier to tolerate the commute for months. If I were you I'd set a personal deadline for how long you're willing to wait:

"If no opportunities open up in that company by October, I will start looking for other jobs."

(Obviously this shouldn't be shared with the employer)

In the meantime, I would patiently wait it out, and focus on being the best employee possible. That will both increase your chances of getting a sparkling recommendation for your boss if a position does open up, and give you an internal backstop to make it easier to tolerate the commute (we all do better when we know it will end at some point).

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    Thanks Jmac, very clear. All things I had been thinking myself...good to get a second opinion that reinforces my thoughts. – Louise Jun 20 '13 at 7:42
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Connect Competencies to Corporate Concepts

It's tempting for an internal candidate to spend most of the cover letter demonstrating his superior knowledge of the company, but what the hiring manager needs to know is what you have to offer the organization. Talk about what you can bring to the job, rather than what you hope to gain from the opportunity. Use your knowledge of company goals and objectives to demonstrate how your experience within the organization would help meet the business needs.

Use Your Insider Status to Your Advantage

As a company insider, you have the ideal opportunity to get the inside scoop on recruitment. You have access to trusted and respected members of senior management and can ask questions, get tips and find out the priorities for the new position. Review internal operations plans and analysis reports and draw from your experience of the industry to strengthen your cover letter. Don't forget that your insider status also gives you another quality to emphasize in the cover letter -- your proven loyalty and commitment to the company.

Remind the Hiring Manager of Your Accomplishments

Don't assume that the hiring manager already knows your abilities. He won't necessarily remember your key accomplishments unless you remind him, and he may not be aware of the extent of your involvement in critical projects. Use the cover letter to remind potential interviewers that your career with the company has gone far beyond just the current projects you are working on. Highlight the additional experience you gained, committees you participated in and former positions you held that are relevant to the current application.

Show You're Ready for the Challenge

In some cases, an external candidate has an advantage -- his shortcomings are unknown. If you've worked for the company for a while, the hiring manager probably already has a preconceived idea of your abilities and suitability for the job. If you suspect the hiring manager has concerns about your skill set or lack of experience in a certain area, address any potential stumbling blocks upfront in the cover letter. Emphasize the experience you gained at a previous company or through education and training, or state what you've been doing to gain the necessary skills.

You can use the following template to help guide you to create your application.

Dear Mr. or Ms. Last Name,

I would like to formally apply for a Position in the Following Department. As you may have been made aware, I have been working doing the following work for said amount of time.

Since then I have held positions where I have gained skills that will allow me to contribute to the company on a wide scale. I have worked on the following projects that show I can bring knowledge and experience to the Company.

I have a demonstrated ability to work collegially with leaders across business units and lines of business. In addition, I have been responsible for various tasks and staff where I have had to do the following job roles to maintain the high standards expected.

These are just a few examples of my accomplishments. I hope that you will find that this brief view, in combination with the attached resume, describe a dedicated employee of ABCD with the experience and skills to meet or exceed the requirements of the position of This Job.

I appreciate your consideration and look forward to discussing this opportunity with you at your convenience.

Best Regards,

Your Name

  • If there isn't a specific open position in that company, how can she apply for that specific position? – jmac Jun 19 '13 at 7:51
  • @jmac She can still put a position even if there is not one available, say for example I would like to apply for a position in the IT Department. Remove 'the' from the letter. – Michael Grubey Jun 19 '13 at 7:54
  • I asked a clarification question to the main question, I think there are very distinct approaches depending on whether she is specifically interested only in a similar position, or if she's more interested in reducing her commute regardless of the job type. For instance, if she wants to move sooner, asking for any position to get her there to start learning their business before finding where she best fits may get a better chance of moving sooner. – jmac Jun 19 '13 at 7:56

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