How can I secure an internal vacancy?
Statistics may vary but it is likely that up to 80% of job vacancies are never advertised on the open market.
These are the ’hidden jobs’ which are filled through internal advertising, speculative applications, word of mouth or through contacts. When it comes to securing these jobs it's not what you know or even who you know; it's where you work.
Moving jobs within the same company is a common scenario and many top level directors started life in the proverbial post room. One tactic is to ‘get on the inside’. For example, if you have one particular organisation or company where you would like to work then it is a legitimate route to simply take any job to get on the books.
You could do this by taking a part-time job, or applying for a seasonal vacancy in any part of the organisation simply to begin working there. Use your time to profile your skills, establish contacts and build a good reputation. Many large companies recognise that ambitious people will find a way of working for them and this route is well-recognised.
Having someone recommend you for an internal vacancy is a perfect way into the company you wish to work for.
Being in this fortunate position shouldn’t be down to luck, but your abilities to network and make contacts. Cultivate a network of contacts at college, through relatives, friends, ex-colleagues and clients. Stay in contact and cultivate anyone who is in the work environment. It’s a small world. You’d be surprised how somebody knows of something or someone who may be able to help or recommend you – if not right now, then later on.
Productive networking can help you to access information and identify future opportunities.
If you're lucky enough to already be on the inside, there are a number of things you can do to make sure you're name is on the list when a position becomes available in your company.
- Keep your eyes and ears open - Most companies will have an intranet on which current vacancies are placed, but often by the time it's been put on there it's already too late. You need to speak to people around your organisation to find out who's moving up, who's moving out and what kind of opportunities that creates. Big organisations often operate as lots of mini-companies with little interaction between them, so make an effort to have at least one contact in each department.
- Apply in the right way - That doesn't just mean telling the right person that you want the job - create a CV as you would for an external application. The benefit you have is that you can tailor the CV with internal lingo and references to projects that people in the company will already be aware of, explaining your involvement. Make sure you tell the truth as it's much easier for them to check facts internally than when you're applying for a job at another company.
- Get inside information - If you already know people who are doing a similar job, ask them about the kind of things you should put in your application to catch the eye. They may be able to give you a hint about the questions you'll face in an interview as well.
- Maintain a good reputation - When your application is received, the line manager will probably ask other senior people in the business about you to find out if you're suitable for the job. Make sure you don;t have any enemies in your company who might downplay your abilities.
- Tell your current boss - Maybe not initially, but as soon as you have had initial feedback about your application, it's only fair to your current boss that you tell them there is a chance you';re moving on. If you have a good relationship, they may even be able to put in a good word for you.
- Know the competition - If you're going for a promotion internally and are up against one of your colleagues it's important to evaluate their ability so you can explain how your strengths are more suited to the role. Be careful not to put your competition down when explaining these as you could come across as a poor team player.
- Be a good winner or loser - If you don;t manage to secure the job, ask the hiring manager for feedback so that you know how to improve for next time. Shake hands with the successful applicant and offer your support. If you do get the job, make sure you're sympathetic to their cause, especially if you're going to be their direct line manager.
Applying for internal vacancies can be seen as the easy option; you already know the commute, the people and the culture. But you need to treat the job search, application and interview process if you want to be the applicant plucked from the pile.