3 questions to ask yourself before making an internal move
Sure, you’ll skip some of the new-job awkwardness by staying at your company—but would it actually be better for your career to go elsewhere?
Here’s a riddle: How do you get a new job without some of the stress that comes with a traditional job search? Answer: You get a new job within your current company.
Both you and your company can benefit from this scenario. Many companies love to promote from within and develop their talent pool—you’re their most valuable asset, after all—as opposed to roll the dice and hire externally.
But is it really what’s best for your career? Or is it just a turn down a dead-end road? Here are three questions to consider before making an internal move.
How long do you want to stay with your company?
“This move isn’t just about the [job] title or your next direct deposit,” says Mark Babbitt, founder and CEO of YouTern, a Colorado Springs, Colorado firm that provides young professionals with career advice, internships and mentors. “This move could have a serious impact on the next three to five years, and perhaps your entire career.”
If you like your company’s culture, your co-workers and the leadership, and this is a place you enjoy working, an internal move can allow you to keep all of that and still try something new.
That said, “liking your manager or co-workers isn’t enough if that means stifling your career growth,” says Tim Toterhi, an executive coach and author of The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting. So it’s best not to use such a move as a short-term answer if you know you really want to move on.
Plan to stay with the new position for at least 18 to 24 months, says Toterhi, and consider whether you’re willing to commit to that amount of time with the organization. Your interests just might be best served searching for your dream job instead.
Does the new position support your career goals?
It’s easy to feel like you’re getting ahead when you get a promotion—any promotion!—but an internal move should also give you skills that push you forward in the long run.
Think about what you really want in your career—is it to be promoted up the ladder? Do you want more money? Are you looking for more intellectual stimulation? Once you know what you want, you can determine whether the move will inch you closer to those goals, says Stan Kimer, president of Raleigh, North Carolina-based Total Engagement Consulting, which offers diversity and engagement consulting for corporations.
Taking calculated risks is how you move forward, and the important thing is to weigh what you’ll gain from the new role against the sacrifice of leaving your current job, Kimer says. The chance to deepen your skills or learn a new functional role could be worth the risk. But if the move offers little to nothing new to add to your repertoire of skills, it might be wiser to take a pass.
How long has it been since your last promotion?
Your company should be helping you develop your skills with the goal of promoting you every few years. That said, if you’ve been at your job for several years and have tried other internal moves but received no promotions, it’s definitely time to look for a job at a company that will allow your career to grow.
“Over time, getting strung along by an employer with one lateral move after another can be like living in a loveless relationship,” Babbitt says. “Depending on how ambitious you’ve been with your desired career trajectory, give yourself maybe two lateral moves in three to five years. After that, if no promotion is on the horizon, start to build a new professional relationship with a company that loves you back.”
Cover Letters for an Internal Position or Promotion
Promotion Cover Letter Writing Tips and Examples
When you're being considered for an internal position or a promotion, you may need to write a cover letter to officially apply for the new position within your company. What should you write in a cover letter for a job at a company where you already work? What's the best way to frame your credentials to secure a promotion?
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
A job promotion cover letter should clearly explain your interest in the job and delineate how you are qualified for the position.
The letter should also recap the experience you have had, your knowledge of your employer’s current mission and needs, and the progressive growth you have enjoyed within the company.
Don't presume that the hiring manager or department manager reviewing your qualifications will know your background just because you work for the company. This is especially true when applying for a position at a large company. Sharing the specific details of your history with the organization will help earn your resume a closer look and ensure that your qualifications get noticed. Also be prepared to discuss these qualifications during job interviews.
See below for a general cover letter for a job promotion, as well as one written for a retail position.
Sample Cover Letter for an Internal Position or Promotion
Dear Mr. or Ms. Last Name,
I would like to formally apply for the Assistant Communications Manager position in the Corporate Communications Department.
As you are aware, I have had extensive experience with [insert Name of Company], starting when I participated in your summer editorial intern program while I was still in college in [insert Year].
Since then I have been advanced through progressively more responsible positions in both the Human Resources and Marketing Departments.
During my tenure, I have developed exceptional writing and editing skills and have designed and implemented highly successful communications strategies at the departmental level.
I have also demonstrated my ability to work with leaders across business units and multiple lines of business, consistently earning exemplary scores on my annual performance evaluations by my supervisors.
In addition, I have been responsible for benefits communications and employee relations, as well as liaising with the company's clients and vendors to ensure that all projects are completed by established milestones.
These are just a few examples of my accomplishments and contributions to our company. I hope that you will find that this brief view, in combination with the attached resume, describes a dedicated employee of ABCD with the experience and skills to meet or exceed the requirements of the position of Assistant Communications Manager.
I appreciate your consideration and look forward to discussing this opportunity for promotion with you at your convenience. Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide that will support my candidacy for this promotion.
Job Promotion Cover Letter for a Retail Job
Here's an example of a letter or email message used to apply for a job promotion to a management position at a retail store:
Subject: Application for Manager - Shoe Department
Dear [insert Name of HR Contact],
It was with great interest that I read that Human Resources is seeking applications for a new Manager in the Shoe Department. Please accept my resume for review and consideration for this role.
I have been with Casy's for a total of four years, two in my current position of Assistant Manager in the Children's Department, and two as a Sales Associate in the Junior Department. Before coming to Casy's, I worked for Mears as a Sales Associate in the Shoe Department as well as in the Men's Department.
With my experience in varied departments, I feel that I would be an asset as a Manager here at Casy's. In my capacity as an Assistant Manager, I successfully took on many of the Managerial duties in the Children's Department last year when Suzy Smith was out on maternity leave, and I would welcome the opportunity to bring that same stability, energy, and dedication to the Shoe Department within the vacancy created by Amy Jenner's sudden departure.
I appreciate your consideration for this position. It has been a real pleasure to come to work every day since you hired me, and I thus look forward to continuing to grow in my career at Casy's.
More About Getting Promoted
When you're working on getting a promotion, it may take some effort to get noticed by management. There are ways you can enhance your promotability and successful move up the career ladder. Take the time to ensure you're in a perfect position to make the best impression at work and to get that promotion you're seeking.