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Internal career path challenges

Q: I have applied for several jobs within my company through our internal job posting system. I have been turned down at least three times in the past year for internal opportunities. I need someone to give me a chance at a new role. I am in a job that is monotonous and boring. I have been doing it for more than one year. I have a degree in communications but I am hardly using it. There is so much out there about how to land a new job when you are unemployed. My company has not had lay-offs like other companies. What gives? What about finding a new job within your current company? I also don’t think my company is posting all open jobs within our company.

A: You are in a fortunate position but probably don’t realize how fortunate your current situation may be. First, you are gainfully employed when national unemployment figures are hovering around 10%. You may not be in your ideal job but it sounds like your company offers a stable environment. Many will be reading your question and feeling envious rather than sympathetic.

Congratulations! Your company posts some jobs internally! Not all companies post jobs internally. And it sounds like there have been some internal opportunities posted despite the overall challenges during this recession. Your employer is not required to post all jobs. Your company can select which open positions to post and which ones not to post. In general, posting jobs internally though is a good practice. It allows existing employees to move within an organization and also sends a message that your company is hiring. This is a welcome signal to many employees. Lastly, posting a job internally often yields a significant number of employee referrals from existing employees. Many employers offer employee referral bonuses or other rewards if an existing employee refers a candidate that is hired.

Without knowing a lot about your company, I can tell you that there are many, many employees at your company who are focusing on the work on their desks and feeling like they are lucky to have jobs. There are likely employees at your company that are not aggressively pursuing roles outside of your company, particularly if your employer is stable. With more and more employee remaining in their current positions, this often results in less movement internally within companies. This pattern often occurs during recessions.

Although I understand you feel like you are currently not challenged, there are ways to improve your chances at progressing within your current organization. A few pieces of advice:

• First, perform your current job well, really well. It sounds so obvious but it is true. Many employers will not allow an employee to post for another role if the employee is not performing well in their current role.
• Ask for additional duties and responsibilities if you have the ability to take on more work. You will be viewed as a “go-getter” who performs beyond the expectations of your job. Do not use extra time to chat with co-workers, text friends or check social networking sites.
• Make sure that your relationships with peers, colleagues, members of your HR team, your supervisor and others are strong and professional. Develop a strong internal network of colleagues. Avoid excessive complaining, whining or negativity even if your role is not ideal.
• Don’t post for every position that becomes available. Be thoughtful. Post for those roles that are a reasonable step beyond your current position. Make sure that you are qualified. If you are required to submit a written document when you post for a job, make sure that you present your qualifications in a crisp and professional manner. I would guess that internally posted positions are attracting many qualified candidates from within your company. Competition is fierce for almost all opportunities right now.
• Be gracious to those that spent time with you during the posting process. Send thank you emails or notes. I often favorably remember those candidates that send me a thank you note or email. It is a small world. One of the individuals may be a colleague or even a supervisor some day.
• Think about challenging yourself in other ways like learning a new skill (think about which skills may be helpful in your next position) or returning to school at night.

Hiring has picked up recently but I am certainly not seeing a hiring frenzy with any of my clients. I think most companies are filling roles in a cautious and prudent manner.

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