I was recently contacted by a reader who was struggling with a challenge in her job search.  The challenge being, that although she’s been successful in getting a number of interviews and even had an offer, unfortunately, the job she really wants always gets offered to internal applicants, and this is something that’s very common for this particular role and the industry she’s in. What should she do? 

The added challenge, in this case, was that she didn’t have much hands-on experience in this area, although she had taken some courses and got some certifications. 

The situation has left her feeling completely stuck and unable to see a way that she will ever be able to break into her dream job.

This is something that I know lots of candidates struggle with, and it can be an even bigger challenge if the job in question is a change in career direction or a big leap from the job you’re currently in.

If this is something that you’re struggling with right now, I know you must feel extremely frustrated and as though you’ll never ever break into this new job. But I assure you, you do have some options when it comes to making it happen.

In this post, I’m going to share a few actionable steps that you can take if the job you want is always hired internally, as well as the mindset shifts you need to make to land that dream job. The one thing you first need to understand is that the journey to getting this job might be a little different from what you had expected. But I hope that finally landing the job of your dreams will feel well worth it in the end. 

So, What do you do when the job you want only gets hired internally?

Tip #1 Change Your Approach 

I’ve seen candidates applying time after time for the same job when it comes up, only to miss out on the opportunity every time. The problem is, every time they applied, there was little change to their approach or to their situation. As a result, they got the same undesirable outcome. 

This takes me to the first point. 

Being persistent is definitely a good thing, but sometimes a change of approach is necessary.

Don’t fall into the trap of just sending off your resume every time this dream job pops up. If you’re in this situation a change of approach is called for. In fact, sending a resume is the very last thing you should be doing. Especially if you KNOW the company likes to hire from within (And honestly lots of companies do) 

So, before you hit SUBMIT, take a breath and remember, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a sign of madness. Don’t drive yourself crazy. 

Tip #2 Check your network

I always recommend looking at your network. This includes your friends, family, friends of friends, and people you know from groups you’re in, etc. You just never know who you’re somehow connected to!

Are there people you know who are doing this job or a similar job right now? Is there anyone you know who works at one of these companies where your ideal job can be found in the organization structure?

The reason for checking in with your network is that if you do find that there are people you know you have a few possible options:

1.They may be able to refer you for the position.

You might be thinking, “Well Der! If someone I know  works at this company wouldn’t they have already recommended me if they wanted to?”

Well, I’ve got news for you. The number of times that I’ve had candidates apply for a job, only to then discover that their closest friend works at this company and didn’t refer them!  What’s more, had their friend referred them, they would have received a bonus! So why did they not refer them? 

There are lots of reasons this happens. The first being that the applicant didn’t check their network, so they didn’t even know they had an internal connection. 

Even if you’re perfect for a job, it’s always worth checking your network as it’s beneficial to be a referred candidate, since someone is effectively vouching for you. This means that hiring managers are more likely to consider your application above and before others. 

The second reason that this situation occurs is that people are simply busy. While your job search is at the top of your list, your friends and family have lots of things going on in their lives, and when they’re at work, they get into work mode and might not think to refer you if you’ve never spoken to them of your interest in the company or in the job. 

2. Informational interviews/ chats

If there are people in your network who are not comfortable referring you but work in the same company or in the same field, then you could have an informational interview/ coffee chat/ call with them. 

This would help you to understand more about the role, what’s required, what the company is looking for, and what you need to do to improve your chances in the future. The more you know the better prepared you can be when it comes to writing your resume and cover letter and when it comes to contacting potential hiring managers speculatively. 

Tip #3 Consider an intermediary step 

If you’re trying to transition into a distinctly new job or career direction, then I’m sure you want to go from your current job to the dream job in one swift move. But depending on the knowledge and experience gap between your current job and the job you want, you may need to consider an intermediate step. 

And let’s remind ourselves that in this case, we’re talking about jobs that companies prefer to hire internally. 

An intermediary step would mean taking a job that you can more easily step into from the job you’re in right now, but one that moves you closer to the dream job.

This job could be in your current organization OR it could be in a company that recruits for your dream position. 

While this might not be what you want to hear, it’s an opportunity to start moving towards the job you really want and the next time it comes around you’ll be better placed for it. 

The thing is if you decide that an intermediary step is not what you want, then you could be in for a long and bumpy ride and one that takes more time than the time it would take to make this strategic move. 

Tip #4: Focus on the company over the job

As I mentioned in the last tip, you could take an intermediary role in your current company. This will definitely put you in a better position but at some point, you’ll still need to move into a company that has your dream position in the organization. So, why not get yourself into the right company now. This way, when the role becomes available, you’ll be one of the internal candidates that gets a look in. 

Tip # 5 – Shift your mindset

Now that we’ve covered some different ways that you could approach this situation, I’ll finish with the final tip which is really a mindset shift that I hope will set you free. 

When you’re trying to land a job you really want the road isn’t always straightforward. Always remember, if you think something will take too long, remember the time will pass anyway, and the worst thing that could happen is that you learn new things. 

Landing a dream job is something that will change your whole life for the long term and isn’t that worth taking an extra step? 

Shifting your mindset from “This will never happen” to “How can I make this happen” is critical. You can land that job. But the question is how much do you want it? If you only want it as long as you get it next week, then you might be disappointed.

And what’s more, understanding that companies hire based on the value they think you’ll bring, and not based on your career dreams, will make you more likely to be open-minded and flexible in your approach. 

Final thought

As a final thought, I was on a course about a particular personality assessment tool, and as I always do, I got chatting to one of the trainers, a Business Psychologist. Turns out,  this role was a career change for him. It had taken him 8 years in total to make the move from consulting to Business Psychology. 8 years.

I asked him one question, was it worth it? His answer? 

Definitely. ( With a big grin on his face)