Thinking of a Career Upgrade? Look Within Your Company

There are times in everyone’s career when they’re ready to make a change. Maybe you’re not growing in your current role. Maybe you think you fit better with another team or on a different project. Or maybe you need to make a change to get on track for your dream job.

Whatever the reason, there’s a good case to make that move right at your current company. In fact, 90 percent of Millennials say they’re looking to grow their careers within their current organization.

Though a change of scenery may be enticing, you may just need to change desks, and not your address. But before you apply for that internal transfer or talk with your manager about making a move (yes, you should talk with your manager), here are some things to consider.

Know Your Company’s Requirements

Making an internal job transfer isn’t always a simple process. There may be some red tape involved. Some companies have rules and procedures about when and how you can switch roles. Many companies require employees to be in their current role at least a year, and others require supervisor approval or recommendations. So before you send an email or apply within, make sure you read that employee handbook you ignored during onboarding.

Focus on Growth, Not Comfort

You’re working long hours. Your scrum master is annoying. And 10-minute stand-ups routinely turn into hour-long sessions. Though these things may be frustrating, they aren’t necessarily good reasons to change teams. Besides, a new environment doesn’t mean your problems will go away.

Changing roles should be about career growth and job fit, not job comfort. “If you’re thinking of a career change, you want to make sure it’s in line with something you’re interested in, a skill you want to develop further, and the role is in line with your personality and temperament. You want to make sure it’s going to be a good fit,” said Lynn Berger, a career coach in New York.

In that vein, DJ Chung, a product manager at Dropbox, suggests thinking of the types of experiences and impact you want to have in your career, rather than the specific job title you eventually want. This type of thinking can help you map your next move and identify potential teams and functions within the company.

Learn All About the New Role

Once you’ve identified a department or function you’re interested in, it’s time for some old-fashioned networking. Get to know people in the department and learn as much as you can about their work and responsibilities. That can not only give you a leg up when a position opens, but it gives you a good idea of the skills you need to excel in that role.

Chung has done this exercise several times. He’s had four different roles in his time at Dropbox. Each time a position or team piqued his interests, he’d talk with people in the department to understand their roles better and learn what skills he needed to add. Then he got creative to develop those skills.

“When Dropbox was a lot smaller, there were projects I could take on in addition to my responsibilities to gain a skill,” Chung said. “I found that’s been a good way when internal transfer opportunities come up, you can actually point to some of the projects that you worked on that demonstrate the skills you have that are relevant.”

Talk to Your Manager Early (and Often)

Talking to your manager about switching teams can be an awkward conversation. That’s why it’s important to discuss your interests and career goals before you’re ready to change roles—it takes the pressure off.

“It’s about building that relationship early on so that your manager better understands how he or she can help you grow, and for you to continue to have that conversation. So, if and when it makes sense for you to change roles, your manager has that background and can help you find the right place for your next role,” Chung said.

Leverage ‘Compound Growth’

Industry analyst Josh Bersin says that employees are appreciating assets—the longer they stay with a company, the more productive they get. Essentially, employees master the company’s systems, products, and processes over time, making them more valuable. That same principle applies to your growth and development.

“When you stay at a company and you feel you have further opportunities for growth, it does seem like your experiences compound on top of themselves and you’re able to be more effective and take on more responsibilities,” Chung said.

That compound growth may be a good reason to stay within your company and maximize your potential the next time you’re thinking about a job change.