Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Dec 16, 2007

Common Pitfalls of the Internal Transfer

Instructor, Caroline Bender
As the calendar year comes to a close, many of you are engaged in internal transfers (one hopes toward a better opportunity rather than away from a bad one, but we understand that a working girl does "gotta do.") To use a seasonal metaphor, Candidates must beware of black ice -- dangerous patches on a pathway that seem clear and dry ....until you suddenly come to.

Today's Study Guide
10 Tips for a Smooth Transfer

10 Know your rights
Internal transfer policies are usually written with the weight of benefit on the employee. There will be some anti-poaching language included, but mostly the company will say (occasionally with grit teeth) that they want you to be very happy. really.

Your company has a policy on internal transfers, even if that policy is having no policy. More likely, it is a policy full of gaps and strange statements that indicate there is an incident behind them. Locate it, read it, study it within an inch of its life. You will have to play by its rules, but you may luck out on how poorly they are stated.

ex 1: The minimum period of notice is one month, for an employee not on probation, but a lesser or greater period of notice could be negotiated if mutually agreed by the employee and the head/school manager/supervisor of both schools or administrative departments.

ex 2: The HR representative’s responsibility is to remind both the internal candidate and hiring manager about [company's]Internal transfer policy. Internal candidates who are interested in transferring to another department [company] must meet the eligibility guidelines, understand and follow the application process as stated in this policy

Anything not explicitly stated in the Company policy can be assumed to be fair play (until they have to add it later after whatever you are about to pull).

9 Control the information flow
Once you are sure of the rules of engagement, try to control the information to your advantage. If you are not required to give your Manager notice of information interviews, don't. When you approach the Hiring Manager about a posted opportunity, be clear that you would like an "informational." Say that you understand neither party is under any obligation; you would just like to know more before deciding to apply. This is insider language for "I won't tell if you won't."

If you don't have to report where you are interviewing, don't. Some companies require the employee only to disclose she is pursuing an internal opportunity. It is the Hiring Manager who must come learn if they want to pursue the candidate.

Incidentally, it doesn't hurt to drop your resume off on the desks of people you admire, even if they are not hiring. A good opener is, "I know you don't have positions now, but if you ever do, I hope you'll think of me." Hand it over in a folder. Of course, this works better if you actually have a relationship with them, and works great with male executives of some rank. Because it's downright ballsy.

8 Don't fool yourself
That is, don't be blind to what you see every day as an employee and co-worker. You know perfectly well what's-what, who's crazy, where the dead ends are, and where the real power is. So if it sounds like a great job, but nothing good has ever grown on that field, stay away. If it sounds like a lateral move, but the quality of life is better, take it to the next step.

When Young Miss Bender was a fiery-eyed powerhouse, she thought candidates who weighed parking privileges and per diems into the package were shallow and short-sighted. Middle-Aged Miss Bender knows you've probably already had the best job you're going to have. So go into every interview with open eyes and a set of demands. That is never easier than when you are moving internally.

7 Be patient
Job hunts take forever because human organization is completely disorganized. When you are an unknown outsider, you will be stalled by interview schedules, PTO, frozen requisitions, and some hold-up with a nasty business called the "compensations committee."

When you are a known quantity like an internal candidate, add to this the secret references, reading of your personnel file, and political infighting between managers. Stay charming to the Hiring Manager, and respectable to your own Manager, and just wait. An entire quarter is not at all unusual a Time-to-Hire. It is only appalling.

6 Treat it like a real interview, only better
Absolutely dress, prepare, and be on time as you would for a job interview. All the more reason for you to
develop a practice of looking like you are at work on any given day. In addition, use this valuable 1:1 time to ask real-life questions about the job and the company based on situations you both know.

Not as in, "So, Marcy quitting, huh? What was up with that?" More like, "I was interested in your Issues and Improvements segment at the last company meeting. I wonder why more managers don't take advantage of that forum." Or, "I think one example of what you're asking about is this year's sales conference that I coordinated with Special Events...." Practice digging more deeply too. This is a good time to throw back the "where do you see this department in 5 years" question.

5 Make sure you're treated like a real candidate
This is part of knowing your rights. You have the right to the same number of interviews, with the same interviewers, in the same environment, as any other candidate. Don't let them tell you differently. Complain to your recruiter if you have to, making sure to keep it in an even impersonal tone.

4 Get it in Writing
Internal candidates get the short end of this stick at every turn. Insist on a real package -- job description, compensation, benefits, etc. Anything that was suggested verbally ought to be documented, especially talk of salary and departure dates.

3 Never negotiate your own transition
You can't win this. Your recruiter or HR rep should be the broker here. However badly you want to move, never start work on your next job while you are still in the current one. It's throwing time and money in the street, all of it yours.

2 Beware the Verbal/Written Warning
This is a dirty trick to pull, but it is one your Manager has at her fingertips. Not being "in good standing" can negate your transfer. If she has tried everything else and is determined to make you stay, she might resort to this. Have your best mates take you out for beers, call her every name in the book out of earshot. Do not drunk dial, say anything in email, or neglect to get your recruiter in this fight. Your manager has just taken money out of his pocket too. And he'll have something to say about that.

1 Tell the Team before they hear it elsewhere
Congratulations, you got the offer! While you're waiting for it in writing, let your current team know what's happening. Chances are they already know, but they will pretend they didn't and will be happy for you. While you are not looking, they are also casting lots on your desk.

Knock 'em dead!
Best of Everything in 2008!


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger