I want to get a new job,” complained Sarah. “I’m so burned out and sick of what I’m doing. I’ve read your articles on making a career pivot, and I’m ready.” But actually, she wasn’t. What she needed was to take advantage of internal mobility.
Career pivots seem to be what many of my clients are looking to do, but to get a new job takes more than merely finding a cool new career, submitting your resume, going on interviews and getting an offer. For people who want to move ahead, but have hit their current employer’s salary ceiling, or have limited opportunities for advancement, leaving is often the only option. But a career pivot isn’t a slam dunk.
Sarah’s situation is typical of most pivoters. She is an Administrative Assistant who is interested in a career in digital marketing, but an honest assessment of her background revealed a lack of marketing experience. She showed me some fairly entry-level openings that she was looking forward to applying to, but there was no way to position her experience to make a compelling case for hiring her.
Is Sarah stuck forever in a role she finding unfulfilling? Not at all, because internal mobility can get her out of her rut. Despite the obvious obstacles to her career pivot, she has luck on her side because:
- she supports a senior executive in the field she wants to pivot to
- she works for a Fortune 500 company
- her company encourages internal mobility
Let’s examine each of these instances of good fortune to see how Sarah can leverage them:
Her manager is an executive in the field she hopes to pivot into and furthermore, she reports that he’s basically a nice guy who’d likely be willing to help her achieve her career goals. My advice was for her to find 15 minutes in his schedule during which they could have an uninterrupted meeting. “Tell him your goals, and be very upfront about asking if he’d be willing to help,” I suggested. “If he can give you more input into his projects other than merely administrative ones, take on the additional responsibility gladly. If he’s willing to be your mentor, he’ll introduce you to people in the field, both inside and outside the company; that grows your network when you are ready to move.”
Working for a large corporation means a larger pool of opportunities While I much prefer scrappy startups and small, less matrixed companies, large companies provide career pivoters with a huge database of internal postings, as well as incredible opportunities to network with colleagues in other departments – and often in other countries, which is music to the ears of peripatetic pivoters.
Now, just because a job opening is listed on your company’s Intranet doesn’t actually mean that it’s really available. All too often, the position has already been promised to someone, but for legal reasons, the company has to post it and interview other candidates. But that’s where networking comes in – for one, Sarah’s manager is well-connected and can probably find out if the position is really available. But as Sarah grows her personal network at this large global company, she can position herself as the person an opening is promised to.
There’s a formal internal mobility program at Sarah’s company as there are increasingly at companies large and small. Part of the HR discipline of succession planning, internal mobility is a strategy whereby companies retain great talent by leveraging employees’ skills with their personal goals. It is
a dynamic process for moving talent from role to role at every level, from top executives to operational staff. This fresh take on performance management plays a key part in successful talent acquisition, employee retention, and overall business success.
The Internal Mobility program at Sarah’s company features what amounts to an unpaid internship in other departments. While Sarah was initially reluctant to take on additional work without pay, I pointed out that this actually benefitted her, as she would then be able to add relevant experience to her resume. So worst case scenario, if she does need to quit and move on to a different company, she’ll be coming from a position of greater strength than if she hadn’t participated in the program.
Internal mobility, like Employee Referral, is a strategy that everyone who wants to get a new job should have in his or her arsenal.
To learn how your resume can position you better for internal mobility, click here.