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Ask HR: How Should Employees Ask to Change Jobs at Their Current Employer?

SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today. 

Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here.


I am considering a departmental transfer. Is there some protocol I should follow? —Mario

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Applying for an internal transfer can be intimidating to employees. Fortunately, it's a situation many organizations are familiar with, even if you aren't. I am confident that with some due diligence and preparation, you can navigate this transition successfully.

Begin with a review of your company's internal transfer policies and processes. Verify that you meet any eligibility criteria needed for a transfer, and review the job posting to ensure you have the necessary skills and qualifications for the position. Identify any forms you need to fill out to formalize your transfer request. Understanding the process and laying the groundwork here will set you up for success as you then turn to negotiate the interpersonal elements.

As you progress, keep your manager abreast of your intentions. This will avoid the possibility of them finding out from another channel, and you will have better control over the narrative. In a candid one-on-one with your manager, lay out your motivation for requesting a transfer, whether that be a desire for career growth, new job duties or an overall career change.

Explain how your transfer stems from the work experience or challenges you are seeking, not from any negatives in your current situation. Make it more of a career discussion about how this new opportunity advances you toward your goals. Once you've addressed the situation with your manager, speak to your human resources team to begin the internal transfer process.

Also, I would only disclose your intent to transfer to your co-workers once a move is confirmed. This will help negate any impact on your group during the selection process. If you are approved, offer to help train your replacement and support your team during the transition.

With the proper steps in place, this process can be a positive experience for all involved. Good luck to you!

I was a full-time producer for over six years. I took a 14-month hiatus to care for my elderly mother and am now looking to return. However, I haven't found a position yet. Should I be considering contract or temp work? —Nicole

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Short-term employment is nothing to be wary of once you understand the unique opportunities available. Taking a closer look may pay off in the long run.

Contract and temporary work tend to pay a higher base compensation. However, with what you gain in pay, you may lose in long-term stability with these short-term options. This means you will need to be more active in your job search to maintain consistent work opportunities. Minimizing downtime between assignments is vital to preserving employment continuity.

Should you choose to contract directly with clients, you will likely need to pay out of pocket for your benefits. Working through a specialized staffing agency would provide you with placement with its clients. The hourly rate is likely lower, but many agencies offer group health insurance after 90 days. In addition, the agency's portfolio of clients is available to help you secure future work.

Contract or temp work can also serve as an audition for a full-time direct role, if that's your goal. Contracting can offer great flexibility as well and gives you the freedom to choose your assignments and to take time off for job interviews while keeping you active in your industry. That activity can deepen your roster of professional connections and expand your network to generate future opportunities.

If nothing else, expanding your options may help you generate some career momentum, which would be beneficial in the short and long term. Look at temporary and contract work as your new starting point that can eventually lead to further opportunities. The first leg of your career likely took time to build So, have some patience and invest in your vision as you look to return to the world of work.

I wish you the best as you look to restart your career.


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