How to Apply for a Job Within, and Not Burn Bridges

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: June 10, 2011 - 10:16 AM

This job seeker was miserable in her current job and even though she gave a verbal commitment to one year in her new role, can’t pass up this promotional opportunity. Advice on how to approach this type of situation and not burn bridges.

Dear Matt: I was transferred to a job and location I'm unhappy with but the supervisor wanted a commitment of a year with me when the transfer took place. It was a verbal agreement. Now I'm miserable in this new position but excited about a possible promotion that could get me back to my old location and in a job I really want. It hasn't been a year yet, but I really want to apply for the promotion - what do I do?

Matt: Many companies encourage employees to seek upward movement within the same organization. Companies love to hire and promote from within and it gives employees something to work towards. Companies also dislike having to train new employees, which is one reason they want a year commitment from you.

That being said, it's your career and your future. Why then, wouldn't you apply for the promotion? Who knows when this opportunity may come around again. But first, be upfront with your supervisor. Let him or her know how you feel - that you are completely dedicated to doing the best job possible in your current job, but this new opportunity aligns closer with your career goals. This could result in a good discussion that helps your supervisor understand why you are not happy and at the same time, could help him or her find solutions to help you in your current role. If they don't know you aren't happy, they can't help you.

"Be honest and upfront," said Diane Duguay, director of employee relations and diversity at Kraus-Anderson Construction Company. "Most supervisors want their employees to be happy even if it means transferring to another department. How can you expect another supervisor to trust you if you cannot be a person of your word to your present supervisor, especially considering it is within the same company?"

There's another reason to bring this to the attention of your employer, said Margaret Zachman, principal strategic talent sourcing specialist at Medtronic. Because this is an internal position, the person or team hiring for the new job will most certainly talk to your current supervisor. Don't catch your current supervisor off guard. That may seem deceitful and could damage your future relationship.

I talked to one Twin Cities job seeker who encountered this very situation. After talking about this with her supervisor there was a great sense of relief. Her supervisor completely understood - and even said she'd give her a great referral if called upon.

Point proven. Be upfront and be honest. Your employer - and career - will benefit greatly.

- Matt Krumrie
Twin Cities freelance writer specializing in career advice

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