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Going for an internal promotion? I have two words for you...

That familiar buzz around the watercooler when internal jobs come up…who will go for it? Who will get it? Before you put your hat in the ring, what do you need to know about applying for a promotion? I’ve got two words for you; assume nothing.

The pitfalls I observe with candidates pitching for internal promotions often revolve around incorrect assumptions. Sometimes folks mistakenly believe they know everything about the new role, but more often, and fatally, they believe their reputation in the organisation stands for itself. If you want to successfully put yourself forward at your current workplace, do your research, and promote yourself.

For any job opportunity, the first step should be research. Once you’ve identified that an organisation is a good fit for you and you’ve found a vacancy, start sleuthing. Find out about the role, the company or agency, the competitors, the political and economic influences, recent media appearances, anything and everything you can access. Don’t stop with Google. Get in touch with people who work in the organisation. In the case of an internal job, be sure and reach out to the contact officer, team members, and the person currently doing the job if applicable. This will help you in many ways; networking in your proposed “new” department can help you explore whether it is a good cultural fit, and demonstrate your enthusiasm to influencers or decision makers on the interview panel. Equally, you’ll be in a great position to tailor your interview answers to specific issues you’ve uncovered, and showcase your skills in the most relevant areas.

But everybody already knows your skills, right? Wrong. In my experience, this is the ruinous assumption that most often strikes an internal candidate down. Candidates often imagine that folks will infer their suitability based on their job performance now. They’ve seen you successfully managing your current job, surely, they’ll see you can excel at the new role? Nope. You must clearly demonstrate your attributes. How? Try these tips.

Remember how I said you should research the role? A good interviewer will be researching you too. Have you googled yourself lately? This is an area where you can control the message, so make it a good one. If you’re applying for an internal promotion, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, and importantly, has a professional looking picture. If you want to craft a professional image without paying a professional photographer, check out for some great tips. Your LinkedIn profile should match and enhance your application, and give folks some additional information that may sway them, such as endorsements and recommendations from your previous roles.

In my opinion, the vital make-or-break step is the interview. It is crucial that you spend some time carefully crafting persuasive answers to articulate your abilities to the interview panel. Many an applicant has come undone by “assuming” the panel knows all about their past performance. A robust process, such as a public service interview, should ask behavioural questions which will set you up to demonstrate your experience. Behavioural interview questions ask you to tell a story, such as “Tell us about a time when….”. These are golden opportunities for you to showcase your past successes. Have a few great examples up your sleeve to demonstrate key attributes such as your strategic thinking, communication skills, team work, and ability to achieve results, to name a few.

It is essential to practise your good answers in advance of the interview. It can feel particularly daunting to present to folks you know, especially when they have some knowledge of the examples you present. A polished presentation is vital for influencing the decision makers on the interview panel. Have a dress rehearsal, with a knowledgeable audience. Choose someone who can give you insightful feedback to assure you are looking flawless when it counts.

Need help preparing for an interview? I’d love to meet with you in person if you’re in Canberra, or work with you via Skype from elsewhere. Why not give me a call on 0439 246 372 and see how I might help you land your next job?

Cheers, Lisa

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