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Why didn’t my internal application get me that job?

By February 24, 2016November 15th, 2019Blog
Internal Application

Why didn’t my internal application get me that job?

Have you ever put in an internal application for a job only to be passed over for an external applicant? It is a common complaint from clients who can’t understand why they didn’t get the job.

Unfortunately, when we start to dissect their application process, one theme comes up over and over again. And there is a straightforward solution.

Internal applications need to pretend they are external applications.

Don’t assume that because the company knows you, you don’t need to make the same effort you would if it was a new employer.  This is the biggest mistake you could make. You are being compared to external applicants that are selling themselves, and you need to do the same.

Focus on two areas:

Your Resume

Most organisations will assess internal applications and internal applications equally.  Companies want to hire the best person for the job and will compare ‘apples with apples’ to avoid accusations of being unfair.

Put the time and effort into updating your resume before applying, or it may not stand up against those from external applicants.  Focus on building up the experience in your current position, highlighting skills gained and achievements in the role.

An internal application is the opportunity to remind your employer of what you have already done for them.

The Interview

I was coaching a Maternal Health Nurse that was getting knocked back for permanent positions with an organisation she had been working for on a casual basis. The feedback she received was that she was failing in the interview.

When we looked at her responses, it was apparent that she was glossing over large parts of the answer as she kept assuming that they already knew the process she had to follow in her current role. The external applicants were answering the question thoroughly.  When they compared their answers, the external applicant came out looking better.

You may find yourself in the situation where you know one or more of the interview panel.  They have worked with you before so they must know you well right? Internal applicants don’t get the job as they don’t take the opportunity to sell themselves. They assume that the interviewers know all about them, so they end up under answering. When the interview panel compares all applicants answers, if yours doesn’t stand up, you will miss out.

The Good News

Even if you are under qualified for an internal job, most companies would prefer to go with an internal applicant, but you need to make sure you make it easy for them.  Take every opportunity to demonstrate to them that you are the best person for the job.


Carli Saw

Author Carli Saw

Carli is a Human Resources professional with more than 20 years of experience across a range of industries and a passion for supporting small business.

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