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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

Ask a Real Recruiter: Who Should I Talk to About Transferring Teams?

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Dear Recruiter,

I like my company, but lately I've been thinking I want to try another department.

Does the in-house recruiter have any say in whether or not someone transfers internally? Does it help to get the recruiter's support? Should I present my case to my boss first? I don't want to piss my boss off, but I also don't want her to turn me down.

What do you recommend I do?

Respecting the Hierarchy

Dear Respecting the Hierarchy,

Your biggest advocate, and potentially your biggest hurdle, will be your current boss.

An internal recruiter can be an advocate, especially if you have a boss who won’t support you. But, to level with you, I rarely see an internal recruiter willing to override the wishes of a current manager, and there’s a risk for backlash if your supervisor isn’t first to know.

You’ll want to tread carefully here. Assuming that your boss is open-minded enough to at least hear you out, there are a few strategies you can employ to help the conversation go smoothly.

1. Keep Killing it at Your Current Job

Even though you’re establishing a game plan for how to make your move, remember that you haven’t made a transfer just yet. That means that your existing projects still need to be priorities.

As Muse Writer, Richard Moy, explains in his article about transferring to another team, “Of course, this will pay huge dividends when a job you’re interested becomes available. More importantly though, your current boss will respect your work ethic and be more likely to wish you the best—regardless of your next step.”

2. Emphasize the Company

Frame your request around the larger benefits that your transfer would bring to the company, rather than just the benefits to yourself.

Hopefully your manager wants what’s best for you, but he or she definitely wants what is best for the company. Make it clear that the two are in tandem, and not mutually exclusive, and you’ll make a much stronger case.

3. Offer to Make the Transition Smooth

I’m willing to bet you’re an awesome employee. Understandably, that means that your current boss will be sad to let you go.

Treat this transfer like you would a departure from any other job. Offer to train a replacement, make sure you wrap up your current projects, and play it cool with your current co-workers.

At the end of the day, your company will make the decision that best supports the organization’s objectives. Think about how you can link your own goals with those of your employer, and then structure your transfer request around the company rather than yourself. With some strategic conversations, I’m confident you’ll be kicking butt in another department in no time.