First research if the job you want exists within your current organisation. Then research the actual job. What skills and experience do you need and what can you do to bridge the gap?
Have a look at your organisation’s policies on internal moves. Learn as much as possible about the position you want to apply for.
Speak to those who can help
If you feel this is doable, then it is time to speak to Human Resources and your Manager about your interest in moving roles. Based on your relationship with your Manager, you will know which person is best to speak to first. When you speak to HR and your Manager, focus on your desire to stay with the organisation and the value you feel you could bring to the new job. If you have a mentor within the organisation, perhaps brainstorm an approach with them beforehand.
Be mindful the first time you ask, you may not get what you want, especially now during the pandemic so be patient. The way you handle the disappointment if you don’t get a favourable response will have a big impact on how others see your potential within the organisation. A ‘no’ now, doesn’t always mean a ‘no’ for ever, so explore how you can craft a path that works for you and your employer.
Remember, because you are looking to stay within your organisation, and reputation precedes itself, if you stop giving it your all in your current role, word of mouth may spread, and a new hiring manager may be reluctant to work with you. Your goal is to maintain your reputation as a great employee and continue to show your commitment to the organisation you’re with.
If you can undertake some upskilling whilst in your current role, to show you’re commitment, that is great! If due to retrenchments or restructuring there is an existing vacancy in the job and career you now want to pursue, then ask what training will get you up to speed as quickly as possible and can you apply directly for it.
If you get an interview for the role treat it as you would any other interview. Be prepared to highlight your relevant skills, ensure you answer the questions asked, convey why you’re a good fit and ask pertinent questions that demonstrate why you are interested in the role. Also don’t forget to send a thank-you note following your interview. A mistake that employees often make is acting too casual in an internal interview setting, especially if they know the person well and they’ve been working together for years.
Politics exist in all organisations and so be respectful of how your Manager may be feeling if you are choosing to leave his/her team to go somewhere else. Keep everything confidential until you are allowed to announce the move if it goes ahead.
If you are given the opportunity to move roles, create a transition plan, to ensure your existing duties and responsibilities are handed over and you can pick up on your new role.
Case Study – lateral career change move
Jane worked as a project manager for a large energy company. Whilst she was good at her role, the hours were long and the work was very challenging. She had worked in this role for many years and wanted a career change. The prospect of managing bigger projects as she advanced her career did not appeal to her. She enjoyed the culture and environment of her current company, but felt stuck and so considered leaving the organisation to find something else.
Jane started thinking about how her skills could be utilised in a different role, and identified HSEQ (Health safety environment and quality) as an area of interest. When someone in the HSEQ department left, she knew this was the ideal opportunity to use her skills and make a career change. Jane spoke to her Manager, HR & the HSEQ Manager then made the move. This involved undertaking more study and taking a lateral if not slight step down. But it enabled her to change careers in the organisation she enjoys working for and where her current knowledge and expertise would be of benefit.
Jane is loving her role and thriving. The organisation gets to keep a valued employee, and Jane didn’t need to resign to find a new position. Win:Win.
Looking at the job & career change matrix above, this was in the dislike job, enjoy organisation box, where making a lateral move is the preferred outcome.
Use the above simple matrix to ensure you make the right career move.