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This is my very first job after a long education, and I've been doing it for a few months now. The department I work in now is not a bad one; in fact, I like it. But now, another position in my company has opened in a related, more technical-oriented department. The new position also fits my education, and is even more interesting for me.

Now the question is, how should I tell my department, and especially my department's leader, that I want to apply for the new position? It is not like I am unsatisfied in my current position. I just think that the new open position is a better fit for me. How should I approach this situation?

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Transferring within your company

Whether you've been with the company a few months or many years this dialog doesn't change much. You're working position X and think you'd enjoy position Y more. This is always inconvenient for your boss (unless position Y is REALLY hard to fill compared to X)

How does one tackle internal company transfers

This can be a bit of a dance, you want to avoid burning your relationship with your boss, but you also want to pursue the new opportunity. Unlike taking a new job else where this is one you do have to let your boss know about. (because the new "boss" will surely ask your boss about it)

Generally I've approached this as follows. I schedule a private meeting with my boss. In this meeting I cover things in the same manner you have here. "Hey boss, first I wanted to let you know I really like working with you in position Y, however; I noticed there is an opening in position X that really interests me. I'd like to pursue this opportunity if it's okay with you."

Typically this will be followed with a discussion about why you think you'd like that spot more, or if there is something they can do to make your current role more in line with what you'd like, etc.

On the rare occasion you'll run into the crappy boss who just puts their foot down and refuses. If the boss rejects it outright because "they need you" or no reason provided, that's a bad sign generally speaking. (concerns in company health / culture)

If it's the first one you should be able to win your boss over by explaining you'll probably enjoy and be more effective in the new role. If it's flat out rejection then likely your chances of getting the role are slim without burning bridges that could cause all sorts of drama.

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    I think x and y are inconsistent – paparazzo Dec 17 '14 at 20:22
  • "unless position X is REALLY hard to fill compared to Y" I think you meant the opposite: "Y is harder to fill than X". – Étienne Dec 19 '14 at 13:00
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One thing to keep in mind is that they may have a minimum amount of time that you have to stay in your current position before they will allow internal transfers. I have worked with several companies that required you to stay in a position for 6 months before the system would allow you to apply for an internal job. They did make exceptions if there was a reduction in force on your current office.

Assuming that you have been in your position more than the minimum amount of time you need to research the new position and how you filling the position will help the company.

  • Look for how long the position has been open. The new group may be desperate to fill the position and you transferring now would be a big help.
  • If they have been offering bonuses to employees for referrals related to the position, and still haven't filled it: you can save the company money because you won't get the referral money.
  • The opening you create can help your current boss by allowing them to promote somebody into your position. This is a dangerous suggestion because you might be telling your boss that you are expendable.

You need to research how these transfers happen. I have worked at places where the current boss was always the last to know. The new group could tap into your current performance review. Of course if you have only been with the company for a few months you might not have a performance review in place. You should ask HR when in the process your current boss is notified. You might never have to have the conversation until you have been selected.

When I have interviewed candidates I always assumed that the least relevant person to interview was the candidates current boss. They don't want to give glowing recommendations to key people, and they want to see you leave if your not pulling your weight. This also applies to new employees because they want to keep you so they won't have to spend time finding a new candidate.

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