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Upskilling in the Same Company: How to Ask & Navigate an Internal Transfer

You don’t have to change employers in order to upskill or develop your career. Here’s how you can achieve the same goal with an internal transfer.

Career development can mean taking on a new role and more responsibilities, gaining new skills, meeting new people and developing new perspectives. It contributes to job satisfaction and confidence in your skill sets.

One of the common reasons employees quit their jobs is that they want to upskill themselves to develop their careers, with as many as 82% surveyed voting to quit if there’s no progression. However, this upskilling does not always have to come at the expense of a job change.

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An internal transfer at work can also offer the same upskilling and advancement opportunities without the challenges that come with finding and settling into a new job and company. Here’s how you can advance in your career while growing within the same company as well.

Benefits of growing within the same company

Upskilling within the same company can have many benefits on your career growth such as:

  1. Developing deep knowledge of the nitty-gritty inner workings of your company so you know the optimal ways to get things done or find solutions.
  2. You become fluent in your company’s business practices, culture and community during your tenure. In a larger organisation, you may be posted to a different department, branch, outlet or even country. Wherever you head to, you understand how your company ticks.
  3. You may be familiar with and enjoy the company culture, community and benefits, so remaining with the company means you get to continue with what you like.
  4. The familiarity also reduces the stress and uncertainty of moving to a new company since we may not know if the move is ultimately a good fit for us until some time later.
  5. You may be able to rise to leadership positions quicker due to recognition and professional reputation within the company.
  6. There are opportunities for you to be an advocate and inspire changes in your company due to your familiarity and knowledge.

You can choose to do an internal transfer in your company with either horizontal or lateral growth.

A horizontal career growth means you move on a sideways path to another department within the company. While your job title may change, the role will be within the same tier and will have comparable responsibilities as your current position.

For example, as an assistant manager, you move from the sales team to the marketing team.

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A lateral or vertical career move means a step up from your current position in the same or a different department, with a new title and role tier. This could mean you go from Marketing Assistant to Marketing Executive. It may not include a promotion in the form of salary increase, but there are ample opportunities to learn new skills and gain experience.

How to grow within your company

Request for internal transfers

The first step is to determine your career path. Decide on your direction and whether you’ll be transferring within your department to another function or to another department.

This can help identify the necessary steps to navigating your transfer. While it may be a challenging or intimidating thing to do, requesting and making a case for your internal transfer is the key way forward.

How to speak to managers to request transfers

One of the best ways to facilitate your career growth is to approach your immediate supervisor with your intentions to advance your career. You can bring up this topic during a check-in or appraisal meeting.

Alternatively, choose an appropriate timing and inform your supervisor that you’d like to set up a meeting to chat about your growth and opportunities within the company.

It is advisable to avoid stressful periods such as peak sales and production periods or the time-crunch when project deliverables are due. Plan the conversation when your supervisor has ample time to consider your request and figure out how they can accommodate it.

Since you are intending to stay with the company, ensure you highlight the positives of your work experience thus far, what you have learned and why you enjoy working for the company.

Go in with a friendly, approachable attitude and an open mindset. Describe your career path so far and the direction you’d like to pursue. Reinforce the value you bring to your current role in the company and share the skillsets you have picked up that can contribute to the role you’d like to transfer to.

Frame your request according to how the company can benefit from your transfer and make a compelling case for it.

You can also put all of this in writing for easy reference and formality as your supervisor considers and speaks to others about your transfer.

How to ace the transfer interview

You may have requested for or are given an informational interview with the team lead in the function or department you want to transfer to. This gives you practical insights as well as a chance to reaffirm your interest and suitability for the role.

Conduct detailed research about the role, requirements, function or department. Prepare a list of questions beforehand and ensure it is prioritised and succinct to maximise both your and your interviewer’s time.

You can even practise your questions, potential questions you may be asked and relevant details about yourself you’ll be sharing so that you can be comfortable and confident.

Even though you’re meeting with someone within your company, treat the informational interview as you would any other interview by dressing and conducting yourself in a professional manner.

Grow your skillsets for your new role

Many employers reward employees who expand their skillsets and knowledge through continuing education.

Take some time to define your short and long term career goals. Once you have a clear path in mind, you can also consider taking up courses, certifications or accreditations that can contribute to the new role or career advancement you’re seeking.

With clear goals, initiative to drive your career growth, and these tips in mind, your journey to career development can still be fulfilling and rewarding staying within the same company.

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