How to Transfer Jobs at Your Company

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Image shows a woman sitting at a desk on her desktop computer. Text reads: "What to include in an internal transfer request letter: The reason you are writing, your background with the company, details about your transfer request, a pitch on how your transfer will benefit the organization"

Image by Danie Drankwalter © The Balance 2019

There are many reasons employees consider transferring jobs. When you are relocating and want to continue working for the same company, a transfer may be a viable option.

In some cases, your employer may simply agree to let you work at the same or a similar job at a different location. In others, you may have to apply for an open position in the new location. It depends on company policy, workforce requirements, and staffing needs in both departments or locations.

There are other reasons you may want to transfer. If you aren't thrilled with your job but like your company, one of the first places to consider for new employment may be your current employer. When you are interested in changing your job function, a transfer can be a good way to start a new career path without having to seek employment with a new company.

As with transferring locations, if you’re seeking to switch departments, want to work in a different functional area, or want to work at a different job, you may be able to ask for a transfer, or you may have to follow formal policy to apply for the job(s) you’re interested in.

The Benefits of Transferring

An internal transfer can have many advantages over quitting your job and leaving the company, including the retention of your current pay level, retirement plan, health care coverage, vacation, benefits and perks, and friendships with co-workers.

Types of Transfers

A transfer is considered a lateral transfer when it is a transfer to the same job at a different location or to the same level job in the same or a different department. If you are applying for a higher level job, it will be considered a job promotion rather than a transfer.

How to Request a Transfer

There are several different ways you can request a transfer, depending on the organization and your relationship with supervisors and staff. These include a casual or formal discussion with your manager or human resources department, and a written request for a transfer. 

You may also make an application for open positions (just as an external candidate for a job would apply), though you may be given special consideration as a current employee. Review how each option works and consider tips for successfully transferring without putting your current role in jeopardy. 

Letter Example Requesting a Transfer

The company may ask you to request a transfer in writing. If so, your letter should include:

  • The reason you are writing
  • Your background with the company
  • Details about your transfer request
  • A pitch on how your transfer will benefit the organization.

Here’s an example of a job transfer request letter, with a template you can download to create your own letter.

How to Find Available Jobs

If you need to apply for an open position as part of the transfer process, you may be able to do so online. Most employers list open jobs on their company website. You may be able to sign up for email alerts that will notify you of new job openings.


Some companies email lists of available jobs to employees, so all current workers are notified about available positions.

At smaller companies, the process may be less formal and you may need to discuss with management your interest in transferring.

How to Apply for an Internal Position

In some cases, employees interested in a transfer are required to apply for new jobs within the company. Some employers accept applications from internal applicants before opening up applications to external candidates. If that's the case, it means that you'll have an advantage during the hiring process. However, you may still need to apply and interview for the job, especially if the new job is in a different department or at a different location.

Some large companies may have a streamlined process for employees seeking to relocate and may provide financial relocation assistance for hard-to-fill positions. Check your company's career website or check with your human resources department for instructions on the application process for transferring.

Tips for Transferring Jobs at Your Company

Whether you are relocating or considering a change from one functional area to another, it often can be done within the same firm. That's because you will bring valuable company and industry knowledge with you that an outsider wouldn't possess. An added element of your appeal can be your reputation as a hardworking and competent employee. It can remove some of the hiring uncertainty involved with bringing in a new worker from the outside.

However, an internal move can also be risky if you aren't careful about how you handle your transfer request. Here are tips on how to transfer jobs.

Consider discussing with your manager. It may make sense to discuss the possibility of making an internal move directly with your current manager, so they don't think that you are sneaking around behind their back. However, there may be situations where your manager's personality will make this difficult. If that's the case, you might need to work with other contacts such as prospective managers, human resources staff or your manager's supervisor. Considerable risk of backlash can accompany not telling your supervisor, and it will be hard to turn back once you have embarked on that course of action. Therefore, carefully weigh your options prior to applying for a transfer.

Make sure that your performance and attitude continue to be excellent once you have a made a decision to move on from your current job. Your relationship with your current manager and their opinion about your character, productivity, and work habits will carry considerable weight as you apply for new positions. Companies are typically reluctant to let a star employee leave the organization, but won't hesitate to send a marginal worker packing if she seems discontent with her current position.

If you are targeting other departments at your firm, look for opportunities to interact with staff in that department. Volunteer for projects which will enable you to showcase your talents and work ethic to coworkers and managers in departments of interest. Seek out committee or task force assignments for company-wide initiatives that might raise your visibility and bring you into contact with prospective managers.

Endeavor to develop a mentor-protégé relationship with your current manager. Seek her out for advice and engage her in discussions about your professional and career development. A manager who is invested in your career is more likely to support a transition out of your department.

Be sure that you are just as careful about presenting your qualifications to hiring managers when applying for a job within the company as you would be when applying for an external job. Don't assume that internal staff members know about all your strengths and accomplishments in great detail. Itemize and document your credentials to make sure they understand that you are very well suited to the job. Also, be sure to have references within the company who can attest to your skills.

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