Author Topic: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies  (Read 5572 times)

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Moinette

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Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« on: September 27, 2012, 02:50:08 PM »
Long-term lurker and very occasional poster here!

I've been working for a fairly large UK company for the last year. I'm in their head office; they have various branches around the world. A few years ago, they bought Other Company. Other Company still operates under its old name, has a separate website, and is based in a totally different part of the country, but legally belongs to our 'group'.

What I'm doing now is a very long way from being my dream job. A vacancy arose at Other Company which was my dream job. I was told about it by a friend (as it actually used to be her job!), and she recommended that I apply. The job was not advertised internally at all- it was mentioned on Other Company's website, but not on Current Company's website.

I'm at the stage where I'm applying for other jobs (jobs totally outside the company in addition to this one). I don't see the experience I've gained in my current job as worthless, but I feel like I've given it a shot and it's really not for me, and the reality is that I'm pretty unhappy in my current role. On the other hand, I don't let this show during working hours and still act in a professional way. It's a bit difficult because I find the role extremely stressful, and became ill a couple of months ago as a result of this stress. My managers were fully aware of the situation and didn't do much to help (more on this further on), although I've been doing much, much better with the help of my doctor.

The trouble has arisen because this vacancy's being treated as more of an internal role than I'd anticipated. I thought that the vacancy would be handled by the personnel/HR department at Other Company (because the job was aimed at external candidates), and that nothing would be mentioned at my current place of work until I was offered an interview. This hasn't been the case. Possibly I'm an exception because I'm the only internal candidate, but I had to do a short exam, which I did during working hours, at Current Company. Because I was going to have to be away from my desk during working hours, my departmental manager found out through personnel.

She's not at all happy that I didn't tell her beforehand. I didn't tell her for a variety of reasons- partly because I was thinking of it more as an external vacancy (although I know it's not that straightforward), partly because I didn't want to alert her to the reality that I'm also applying for other positions outside the company, and partly because we don't have a fantastic relationship. I've had a tricky year in terms of my personal life, as well as the work-related problems, and I don't feel as though she's been very supportive. But the main reason was because my rule of thumb was that it's best not to let managers know when you've applied for other jobs, simply because you might not get it. It would be of no benefit to her to know as soon as I'd applied- as I see it, you can't go looking for a replacement until the candidate's actually got the job, but in the short chat we had, she mentioned the inconvenience of having to replace me.

 For what it's worth, this would be considered a lateral move. The job pays a little less than what I earn now (although I'd be better off overall due to cost of living differences), and I mentioned what my dream job was in my interview with this manager. We're very rarely told about internal positions by our personnel department- I think it's happened twice in the year I've been around. The turnover rate in my department is high- people tend to leave after a year. And my Other Manager (with whom I have a REALLY strained relationship because she's been bullying me since I started, which I told Departmental Manager, which she didn't really help to resolve, hence the strained relationship with BOTH managers, and yes, I'm aware that I'm condensing this part of the story, but it's because I could go on about this for hours!) has been especially snappy with me over seemingly unrelated things. This has the potential to become awkward(er).

I know it's polite to inform your manager if you're applying for an internal vacancy normally. What do you think- have I made a big mistake?

BeagleMommy

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2012, 02:59:12 PM »
OP, I can sympathize with you.  The position I have now had me so overwhelmed at one point that I had a panic attack at work.  Two of my doctors have recommended that I find another position (I'm looking).

I don't think you are required to let your managers know you're looking for another job; only if you've found another job (i.e. giving notice).  I have a good relationship with my manager so I did tell him I was looking.  As long as it doesn't affect my job performance he has no issue.  YMMV.

AustenFan

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2012, 03:02:00 PM »
You have made a mistake, but not an unfixable one, and it's not entirely your fault. I think part of the problem is that boss was blindsided instead of hearing from you directly, so all you can do now is communicate openly.

If I were you I would go apologize. Explain that you think this new job would be less stress, and that you didn't want to waste current boss' time if you didn't get it. Tell her that of course you will give proper notice and help train your replacement (even if you are jumping ship at the first opportunity) and do anything possible to make the transition as easy as possible for whoever replaces you. It may help to throw in something about how you're not looking for another job, but this opportunity came up and you can't ignore it.

Things may nver be peachy between the two of you, but hopefully it will only be for a short time. Keep in mind that you'll probably need a reference from current boss and try to stay on good terms. 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2012, 03:48:47 PM »
Until granted an interview, I probably wouldn't notify my boss that I'd applied for an internal position.  I think the managers at the associated company bungled this by informing your manager(s), rather than you being the person that bungled.

At my last workplace, I applied for a couple of internal positions.  I didn't tell my supervisor about either of them.  One of them, I didn't have the necessary qualifications and the hiring manager called me directly and let me know that I was being eliminated from the competition.  The second one, the hiring manager asked me to sit down with my current supervisor and let her know what was going on before he scheduled me for an interview.  Which I did.  And spent the next month having her try to talk me out of it.  And then when I got the other job, she held up my transfer for months.  I'll NEVER do that again.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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Brockwest

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2012, 04:59:57 PM »
You certainly should not inform your manager that you are applying for another position, internal or external unless you want their recommendation or find out they will be told.  I would always ask if they are going to inform my current manager. In this case, with it being an internal position, your likelihood of your manager finding out was high.
One reason not to talk about applying for a position, is that others may find out and apply also. Knowledge is power, don't give power away.

Perhaps there will be an upside to the story.  If your manager values you, then they should try to find a way to keep you or promote you.

gypsy77

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2012, 01:24:55 AM »
It seems this varies by company, as my experience with my current company is that it is harmful not to tell your manager you are applying for internal vacancies. This is because before they invest the time in interviewing and any testing neccessary, they contact your current manager to ensure that you are eligible to apply for a vacancy (for example, if you were on an "improvement plan", you would not be eligible). Since they are already in contact with your manager for that, they often request the recommendation at that time.

Having said that, I agree with AustenFan that it is not unfixable, and agree with her advice about clear and direct communication going forward.

SoCalVal

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2012, 01:36:46 PM »
I agree that this varies by company and, also, by manager.  Where I am now, we have employees applying for different areas of our department all the time.  While we're not necessarily thrilled/not thrilled about it, we wouldn't hold up the employee or hold it against him/her for wanting to go to another area.  Also, sometimes, we know other areas are a better fit for the employee's personal life.

OTOH -- when I first got hired, my evil former supervisor, EFS, (who was, then, my new supervisor), told me to go ahead and continue with interviews I still had scheduled with other departments (I discussed them with him and when I said I didn't know what to do about them, he pushed "encouraged" me to have the interviews anyway...then he lied to our department director and told him I was unhappy with my job and still seeking employment elsewhere...that was the start of me not trusting EFS and a foreshadowing of the harassment and bullying I endured for the next 2.5 years (until a witness voluntarily stepped forward and reported him so I got moved to current awesome supervisor).

At previous companies, they always knew I was applying for other jobs (both internal and external) and didn't stand in my way when I needed to make arrangements to interview (of course, I have to state that I had either a) already given notice, b) was moving out of the area or c) was working in a temp position).  It's really a "know your audience" kind of thing.

In the case of the OP, with management with whom I have a rocky relationship, I would think of a plausible reason for why I would not tell them in advance as I wouldn't trust them not to stand in my way or bad mouth me.  With the future management, I'd also need to word a good reason for why previous management was not notified (I'd be more concerned with the explanation for this one since they'd be wondering if I would do the same to them).



Mikayla

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2012, 06:15:38 PM »
I don't think you made even a little mistake.  The very general rule of thumb is that you do inform managers in an internal job search, because they will be asked about your performance, and this doesn't require an interview.  It could be a phone call to the manager as soon as they see your resume.

Obviously, in an external search, you say nothing.

Your problem is you fell into a very gray area.  In the vast majority of situations, it's obvious whether you're interviewing internally or externally.  This was the exception.  You assumed external and it turned out to be internal.

And that's what I'd use to explain this to your boss.  "Boss, of course I would have informed you if I had thought the hiring process would be done here.  But I wrongly assumed it wouldn't be, and I apologize for the fact that you were caught unaware".  Or sumthin'.

Also, even in clearcut cases where it's an internal job and a promotion, it still serves notice to your superiors that you're not satisfied with what you're doing now.  That part is unavoidable, and always carries certain risk.

Moinette

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2012, 12:53:15 PM »
Thanks for your advice, everyone. A minor update in that- hurray! I have an interview at Other Company!
It led to a very awkward situation, though. Current Company's paying for transport and a lady, P., was in charge of booking my train tickets. Last week, she very openly came over to my desk and said "I'm just booking your tickets for your day at Other Company- could I borrow your Railcard?" This, naturally, made my coworkers quite curious, and they asked me directly why I was going to Other Company. I told them a half-truth, that I was just going to visit for the day.
Unfortunately, all this was in the hearing of my supervisor, who then emailed me to say that she really didn't want people to know where I was going and that if anyone asked again, I was to say that I was going to visit a friend (on a sidenote, I don't think this is a very good lie- why on earth would Current Company be paying for me to visit a friend?). I'm quite annoyed that I'm not trusted to be professional enough to be discrete about the interview- I certainly wasn't planning on broadcasting the news- and I'm really not comfortable with being told to outright lie to my colleagues.
But then again, I have to stay positive- an interview is a Good Thing, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

SoCalVal

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2012, 12:57:45 PM »
Thanks for your advice, everyone. A minor update in that- hurray! I have an interview at Other Company!
It led to a very awkward situation, though. Current Company's paying for transport and a lady, P., was in charge of booking my train tickets. Last week, she very openly came over to my desk and said "I'm just booking your tickets for your day at Other Company- could I borrow your Railcard?" This, naturally, made my coworkers quite curious, and they asked me directly why I was going to Other Company. I told them a half-truth, that I was just going to visit for the day.
Unfortunately, all this was in the hearing of my supervisor, who then emailed me to say that she really didn't want people to know where I was going and that if anyone asked again, I was to say that I was going to visit a friend (on a sidenote, I don't think this is a very good lie- why on earth would Current Company be paying for me to visit a friend?). I'm quite annoyed that I'm not trusted to be professional enough to be discrete about the interview- I certainly wasn't planning on broadcasting the news- and I'm really not comfortable with being told to outright lie to my colleagues.
But then again, I have to stay positive- an interview is a Good Thing, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Could you reply to your supervisor with, "I was as discreet as possible and will remain so but am not going to lie when I wasn't the one who mentioned the event in the first place.  You might want talk to P about not stating this business where my coworkers can hear her because that is what caused them to ask me questions."



Dindrane

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Re: Etiquette when applying for internal (ish) vacancies
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2012, 03:03:23 PM »
I actually don't think you have done anything wrong at all. I think it was extremely unprofessional for the other company to say anything about your candidacy so early in the process, and without warning you so you could preempt their communication with your immediate supervisor.

My department has a lot of people who move around internally, often by applying for positions that are open to all applicants (internal and external). I work in the unit within that department that handles all the recruitment and personnel, so I always know when there are internal applicants to jobs we are looking to fill. I would never in a million years tell any current supervisor (or anyone else who was not directly involved with the search) who any of the applicants are, and I would be doubly careful not to tell anyone about an internal applicant.

When you get to the point of interviews, since there are usually more people involved in them, it becomes more difficult to maintain strict candidate confidentiality. But even then, we expect our interview participants to use discretion. If at any point it was necessary for the candidates to be more widely known (such that their supervisor would be made aware of their candidacy), we would give them the opportunity to talk to their supervisor first.

And when it comes to checking references, it's rather poor form to check any without getting explicit permission from the candidate in question.

So in this case, I think the other company has handled your application quite poorly, and with very little consideration for you. I hope that things work out for you in the long run, because it sounds like your work environment is quite unpleasant. There is a lot of unprofessional behavior in your story (from the other company, from your supervisor, from the person arranging for your travel), but yours has not been.