Amanda K. Brady, Director
More and more organizations are implementing professional development programs that often include identifying high potential employees who the management team believes can play a key role keeping – or getting – the business on a growth path. In addition to providing a career path to seasoned employees, this organizational development strategy ensures the organization takes advantage of historical knowledge employees possess and eliminates the need for an external search. So what does it mean when your company is starting an external search for a position you want? And what should you do? And then what should you expect?
First, what does it mean?
It might mean that the current management team does not view any current employees as being ready to step into the role. This, of course, does not bode particularly well for someone wanting to make the move up. But to make that assumption, and watch the search process from afar, could be detrimental to one’s career. It’s equally possible that management simply wants to see whether someone steps up to the plate.
So what do you do?
Step up. Here’s your chance, if you’re ready for it. If you really believe you are ready to take on the larger role, tell your manager or the human resources leader. Don’t assume that the management team knows your professional desires, especially if professional development is a nascent concept in your organization. Be prepared to articulate why you believe you are ready for this position, and please note that your argument must be much stronger than, “I’ve been here a long time and it’s my turn.” or “I already know how things are done here, so things won’t change much.” Change may be exactly what management is looking for and you had better be prepared to deliver it. If they view you as maintaining the status quo, you may be out of the running before you ever enter the race. Find out if there is a position description and revise your resume to highlight your accomplishments as they relate to stated objectives for the role.
And what should you expect?
If your organizational leaders believe you qualify for consideration, they will likely put you in touch with the external executive recruiter who should put you through the same paces as other candidates. Just as with your employer, be prepared to articulate the benefits you would bring to the table. Make no assumptions of special treatment. Approach your interactions with the executive recruiter as you would for an external position. And expect a full and thorough review of your career and skills. Don’t be disheartened if you are asked to go through this process. It can be a good sign. Our firm often works with internal candidates and frequently recommends them for consideration along with strong external candidates. That said, some executive recruiters have a bias toward their own candidates and there are certainly times when internal candidates have been directed to an external recruiter only to be completely ignored. You might need to assert yourself with your hiring manager if you do not believe you are being given fair consideration.
If you are not selected by the recruiter as a finalist for the role, ask them to share their reasoning with you. What skills or experience do you lack that other candidates possess and what do they recommend you do to fill the gap?
And if you are selected for the position, you can be proud knowing that you beat out some stiff competition and earned your new title. Then, get busy doing what your management has now tasked you to do. They are counting on you to prove their decision to be the right one.