Q: I’m reasonably happy in my current department. It’s a large company and now an opportunity has come up in another area that will attract a lot of external and some internal candidates. The role would mean a complete career change for me, but I have skills appropriate to the new area. However, my manager, I feel, will take it badly because he’s very happy with the team he has built and doesn’t want anything to upset that. Should I tell him I’m going for this new role? (DF, email).
A: That is a complex question, and one I hear quite often from people in jobs – namely, the politics of how to move internally without burning bridges. When it comes to making career moves, I like to separate them into two parts.
First off, your strategy: if you want this job, you’ve got to resolve to go after it. Get your head right about that first. For now, don’t worry about the tactics of how you’ll go about this. Satisfy yourself fully that you want the role.
If and when you reach that point, you then make a plan. That’s the second part. Should you tell your manager? Managers differ and patients die, as the old saying doesn’t go, so I would be inclined to ask trusted confidants within the organisation if they think it’s a good idea.
While my own inclination would be to tell the manager, you don’t want to upset the applecart by a making a false move now.
Having sussed out your confidants, decide then what to do with your manager. If you’re not going to tell him, on you go. If you are going to tell him, try to avoid burning bridges. Even if they lose the cool, don’t fight back. It takes two to tango. They will likely cool down when the news has settled with them.
Knowing that they may take it badly gives you an advantage when you go into that meeting as you can prepare yourself to be the calm one. Ultimately, the manager must accept the fact that you’re entitled to move somewhere else within the organisation. But it sounds like you certainly can’t rely on them to help you get the position. Anything they do for you; see it as a bonus.
You must take the onus now to persuade the key decision makers of your suitability for the role. Just because you’re already in the company, doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in for the job.
It sounds like you will need to highlight your transferable skills. What exactly do you mean when you say that you have “skills appropriate to the new area?” And how exactly do those skills match what that other department needs?
Launch a surgical strike on the job so that the decision makers see you as a proper fit. Get the benefit out of already being within the company: you know how it operates, you know the companies raison d’être and you know the key people. There’s huge value in all of that.
Whether your current manager knows about what you’re doing, and or supports it, cannot be on your mind as you go down the stretch on this one. You’ve got to make your own career moves. It’s your life.
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.
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