Should You Tell Your Manager About Your Internal Job Search?

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If you're considering applying for a new job within your current company, there may be some company policies or professional expectations you're expected to abide by. You might conflicted or worried that your boss will be mad at you for looking for a new job, but the truth is that changing jobs—whether internally or externally—is a normal and healthy part of having a career.

Key Takeaways

  • There is no hard and fast rule about informing managers about a pending internal job application.
  • Every company has different HR policies; check your company's to avoid being blindsided after submitting your application.
  • Meeting with your manager to explain your interest in another role may allow your manager to give you a positive recommendation.

Human Resources Policies for Internal Job Applications

Every organization has different policies about how they handle employees who want to transfer to another job. In many companies, for example, the company policy is that an employee must be in their current position for six months or have the approval of their vice president to change jobs internally sooner.

The policy may also state that the employee is responsible for notifying their current manager if applying for another job in the company. With this policy in place, employees know exactly what is required for their internal job search. The situation the reader experienced would not have occurred.

If you're nervous about having a difficult conversation with your manager, before you apply, look into your company's policy about internal job applications. Are you required to inform your senior manager you have a pending internal job application? Do you apply using a special internal job board for current employees?


Policies aside, perhaps it is also simply an organizational norm for employees to tell the manager when they apply for jobs internally.

Are Conversations With HR Confidential?

In an organization, employees should have a reasonable expectation that their interactions with HR are confidential. The appropriate step for the HR staff person would have been to ask your wife if she had discussed the internal job search with her manager.

HR does this to provide an opportunity for the manager to potentially improve the aspects of your wife’s job that she has decided to leave. It also gives the manager a chance to understand your wife’s career objectives within the organization.

Finally, discussing the potential transfer or promotion with your current manager gives them the opportunity to support the application with a positive internal reference.


Policies aside, perhaps it is also an organizational norm for employees to tell the manager when they apply for jobs internally. The HR person may have assumed that her manager had been informed by your wife.

How to Tell Your Manager About Your Internal Job Search

If you are interested in looking for a new position, if may be in everyone's best interest to set up a meeting with your manager before you apply. Does the position you're applying for offer experience in a field you've always been interested in? Or are you very unhappy with your current job?

Regardless of the reason, your manager may be able to improve your current job or tweak your job responsibilities to better align with your career goals. Remember: Part of your manager's job is to facilitate the growth of their direct reports.

You should discuss with your manager why you see the job as a good opportunity. No manager likes being blindsided by an employee, and this will keep your manager feeling as if they are in the loop.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should you tell your manager about an internal job application?

It may sound uncomfortable, but a candid, respectful conversation about your interest in changing jobs may allow your manager to provide you with a positive job recommendation, or, if you are unhappy with your current job, to improve aspects of your position.

Should you apply to an internal position?

According to a landmark study by Administrative Science Quarterly, which analyzed 5,300 employees, internal hires performed much better in their first two years of employment. External hires cost more to onboard, the study found, and were also 61% more likely to be fired.

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  1. Administrative Science Quarterly. "Paying More to Get Less: The Effects of External Hiring versus Internal Mobility."

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