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Should you apply for that job?

Job seekers often limit themselves to looking outside of their company for a new position. But there are a number of factors that point out that job seekers should also consider looking within their own organizations for a new role.

At first it might seem counter-intuitive. After all, do you really want to let your boss (and others in the organization) know that you are interested in a change? Wouldn’t applying for another job internally signal that you are also looking at job opportunities outside of the company? How would your current job fare if you do apply and are passed over?

Those are all valid concerns, but you should also consider the upsides to applying. The biggest is that the wind is at your back, so to speak: more and more firms are choosing to hire internal candidates over external candidates. Why? Hiring internally is more cost-effective for the company, and has a greater level of success than hiring externally.  According to an article inTime Magazine, “the average cost of finding and hiring someone from outside the company is 1.7 times more than an internal hire.” Perhaps more important for both you and your employer is that between “40 percent and 60 percent of external hires aren’t successful, compared to 25 percent of internal hires.”

Once you’ve decided to apply for a new position within your company, you should take a few steps to ensure the process goes smoothly. First, approach it as you would approach applying for a job with a different company. Do your research. Take the interview seriously. Dress up for the interview—don’t just wear what you usually wear to work.

Next, you need to think about your current manager and how to navigate the situation.  As a recent story on Marketplace pointed out, “If you trust your current boss, tell them you’re thinking about a job switch.” If that’s not the situation, you should ask the hiring manager to give you a heads up before speaking with your current manager.

Even if it feels “scary” to signal that you are looking around by applying for an open position within your company, you should do it. As Tom Kochan, Professor of Work and Employment Research and Engineering Systems at MIT Sloan, told Marketplace, “many potential internal candidates who talk themselves out of applying for jobs later regret it.”  So go for it!

Tom Kochan is the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management and Professor of Work and Employment Research and Engineering Systems at MIT. He is also the Co-Director, MIT Sloan Institute for Work Employment Research. He has taught in the Strategies for Sustainable Business program.

This entry was posted in Work and Employment on Thu Apr 24, 2014 by MIT Sloan Executive Education


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