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I work at a large publishing house that is part of a group of companies all over the world. For career advancement reasons I consider moving to the UK while working and studying there part-time. I am currently based in Germany.

I recently got the name of the person in charge of recruitment in the UK from a colleague. This person is based in-house (not in a recruitment agency) and I've never met them in person.

I'm not sure what the best way to approach this is. Basically I see two options:

  1. Be frank with my boss and tell him that I want to move first. Then approach HR. This has the downside of giving me trouble should the plans with the UK office fall through and generally making things rather awkward.
  2. Approach the in-house recruiter directly, asking for confidentiality. This has the downside of becoming a problem should this leak to my boss, which is not unlikely as the recruiter probably will have to talk to HR about my plans. Also I don't really know how to reach them, as they're not even in the company address book. I only ever found them on LinkedIn.

What would be the most promising approach?

  • Normally, large companies have some sort of intranet portal where internal job postings are made. Does your company have such a site? Are there particular openings in the UK that you want to apply for? – Justin Cave Apr 4 '16 at 17:30
  • As we're in the middle of a merger, the job postings are not online at the moment. Also the UK branch apparently usually works with recruitment agents. The job I would be applying for would probably be very similar to my current role and I am almost certain that they are in fact looking for staff with my qualification. I didn't look into particular other openings in the UK yet. I was rather thinking of going with a recruitment agency as I assumed that this is how job search works in the UK for software engineers. Am I wrong there? – herman_the_german Apr 4 '16 at 17:56
  • Is the working part-time while studying a major change from your current situation? If a full-time employee wanted to go back to school, I don't why your boss would hold it against you. Tell him about it and apply for the job. If he puts up a fight, it reflects poorly on him and not you. – user8365 Apr 4 '16 at 21:33
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Ideally, try to find out how such things are handled or were handled in the past in your company. Official HR handbook, intranet, gossip with colleagues, whatever... . Ideally, you want to know whether this has happened before, how it was handled, how decided what etc.

Absent any such specific information, one can only guess what the best approach might be. Some ideas:

  • It's probably better to be frank with your boss. It will be hard to keep it from him, as you said. In particular, company rules may even demand that your boss agree to the transfer, so HR may have to contact him.
  • On the other hand, just asking for a transfer should not count against you, even if it is refused. On the contrary, it shows initiative, which is usually good.
  • Finally, don't get too hung up on this particular option for finding a new post. Try to explore alternatives in parallel. Such as:
    • directly applying to jobs in the UK
    • networking (possibly online)
    • quitting, moving and starting school full-time, then looking for work later

Good luck!

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