If you told me a year ago that I’d wind up changing jobs, there’s no way I would’ve believed you. I felt really lucky that my first role out of college was at a company with a mission I believed in—and I had no complaints.
Fast forward and I’m working in a completely different field as an HR Coordinator. I love my current role, even though I hadn’t always been planning on it.
So, what happened in between? I transferred internally from the profiles team at The Muse to a role in human resources, and the process was nowhere near as scary as I imagined it would be.
That said, there were three steps that helped make the transition go smoothly that I’d recommend to anyone contemplating a similar move.
1. I Tried the Sort of Work I’d Be Doing First
My first hint that I was interested in another field came out of a project I worked on for fun in which I helped organize a way to formally celebrate employee anniversaries. (Yes, this was something I thought was fun!)
After testing it out and seeing the success, I kept going—despite the fact it was in no way a part of my role.
The fact I looked forward to this was a big sign to me that I wanted to be a part of helping people feel recognized and appreciated for their time at work.
Here’s How You Can Do the Same
If you’re drawn to opportunities outside of your job description, take them on. Yes, it can mean more work in the short run, but it’s a great way to find out how much you enjoy it—before you set things in motion to change roles.
Not to mention, when something opens up in that other department and you want to apply, you’ll have concrete examples of how you can contribute.
2. I Talked to My Boss
After I read the job description for the HR Coordinator role, I decided I’d like to pursue it. So, my next step was to have a long talk with my manager about what it would mean if I applied—whether or not I ended up getting the job.
I was torn between wanting to apply, and not wanting to leave the team that I’d grown so close to. It was hard for me to wrap my head around the right decision since I wasn’t unhappy. My manager was extremely supportive and let me know that my current position would still be there for me if I didn’t end up getting this new job.
Here’s How to Have That Conversation
Before you sit down with your boss, be prepared to discuss why you want to apply. Assuming you’re on good terms with your manager and he or she cares about your growth, it’ll be a positive exchange (albeit a little awkward).
Think of this discussion as a good time to talk about what you like and dislike about your current position. If you end up staying, you’ve started a dialogue about the work you’re most passionate about, and if someone else needs to take your place, your manager has the information they need to help the team move forward. Since you’ll remain working in the same vicinity, it’s incredibly important to keep this conversation positive (so no burning bridges or turning this into a venting session).
That said, I know not everyone has a good relationship with their boss. So, if you think they may start excluding you from good projects if you share your desire to change roles—and then stay put—that’s something to think about before moving forward.
3. I Stayed Considerate of My Old Team
When I found out that I got the position, I was thrilled for this new chapter to start, but also anxious. I knew why I wanted it, but since I hadn’t been unhappy or actively looking for a job before applying, how would I explain it to my co-workers? Would I have to explain my move to people one by one as I ran into them at the Keurig machine?
I informed the people I worked closest with first and worked with my team to make sure all of my daily responsibilities would be covered before I moved. The week before I started, my new manager sent out an email to the whole team announcing my new role (and saving me from having to explain why I was suddenly sitting at a different table).
Here’s How to Leave on Good Terms
If you get the offer: Congrats! Once everything’s official, have a conversation with your manager letting them know you’ve accepted and offer up any details about the timeline.
Fortunately for your team, your transition away from the role will be a little less scary since you’ll still be around for any questions. Be sure you speak personally with anyone who reports to you or who relies on you to get their own job done before any wider announcements are made.
If you don’t get the job, spend some time thinking about what motivated you to apply and focus on ways you can grow your current role—or if that’s not possible, ways you stretch outside of work.
At most (reasonable) organizations, applying for a job internally will not affect your current role. Though, if you find yourself incredibly bummed that you didn’t get it—or you do feel repercussions—it might be a sign that it’s time to explore other similar opportunities outside of your current company.
Once everyone knew, my inbox flooded with supportive and congratulatory messages from my co-workers. I learned that if you take the initiative to explore what you’re really passionate about, it’s hard for people not to be excited for you.
So, if you find yourself being drawn to a new opportunity, see it through. And when you’re happy at your current company already, an internal transfer is really the best of both worlds.