The resume for an internal job application is quite different than one that you would use to pursue jobs at another company. As an internal candidate, you will have to still go through the HR processes. This means that you will have to submit a resume and go through the interview process. Here is what you need to know to build the resume that gets you the promotion.

Take Nothing for Granted

Studies consistently show that over 50% of job openings are filled by internal candidates. This is often because it is cheaper, faster, and often more effective to hire internally for most companies. As a result, it gives you a huge advantage as an internal candidate when pursuing a promotion. However, you can't assume that you have the job until it is officially offered because there will be competition for the position.

Internal candidates have the advantage of knowing people at the company and the strength of their performance there. However, you can't assume that people will remember everything that you have done. You also can't expect all of your great work at the company to be outlined in your employee file. So, you will need to build a strong resume that showcases your strengths and reminds people of all the things that you have done at the company. This can also take more time because you may not have been keeping track of everything while at the company. So, start sooner rather than later when building a resume to pursue an internal promotion.

Tailor Your Message

First, make sure that you focus your resume on the specific job that you want. As an internal candidate, you have access to more information and can ask questions of the people on the team or in HR to better understand the needs. Make sure that you take advantage of these resources when building your message.

You also need to translate that knowledge into your resume. This means articulating exactly what skills, achievements, and experiences that you make you a strong candidate for the role. As an internal candidate, you can also include all of the confidential information and proprietary jargon to showcase your institutional knowledge. Make sure that when you do this that you are framing the information in a way that shows you are a good fit for the promotion - not merely showing that you are good at your current job.

Focus on Your Work at the Company

As an internal candidate, you also need to focus on your time at the company. This means emphasizing everything that you have done at the organization and focusing less on what you did before you got there.  For example, you can focus on your contributions and work at the company. It also helps if you include any projects that were recently completed because those are fresh in everyone's minds now.

You will also want to humanize your experience. Meaning that you want to connect with the people that will skim the resume. Your resume as an internal candidate will still go through the ATS, but it will likely be filtered through to the people making decisions on the role. So, you will want to focus on those people more than the systems. And, as explained above, you can't presume that people remember everything that you have done. So, you need to include everything on the resume for your promotion to ensure that the people know what you have done at the company.

Connect the Dots

A resume for an internal promotion also needs to make it clear that you are a good fit for the role. This can also mean connecting your current role at the organization to the role that you want. Think about including details about the following to make your promotion a no-brainer:

  • You are already doing the job. It is pretty common for people to have interim or short-term appointments. Regardless of whether your capacity is official or unofficial, make sure to include your experience in the job on your resume. Include these details as a separate entry in your professional experience or as an achievement in your current role.
  • You work with the same team already. You may be in another department, but you should include details about working with the team that you would work with if given the promotion. Showing people that you already know the internal players is important to show that you can step right into the job.  
  • You already partner with the vendors used by the department. Working with external resources that overlap with the job that you want can also be helpful. Include these details on your resume for the promotion to show that you have relevant experience at the organization.  
  • You have relevant experience at the company. Include details about any projects, products, or other initiatives at the organization that the person may do if they get the promotion. Showing that you have this relevant experience even if it isn't your full-time role now is important to show that you can take this next step in your career at the company.
  • You have done the job before. This may not have been at the organization, but showing that you have done the job previously is an easy way to show that you can do it now. Be careful in how you position this experience, but make sure that you do remind the hiring committee that you have already done this work previously.

Emphasize Your Achievements

The key to standing out from the competition (internal and external) is to emphasize your achievements. This can be particularly challenging as an internal candidate because you may not have been actively looking or tracking this information if you are happy at the company. You can overcome this challenge by including the following to craft the perfect bullets for your promotion resume:

  • Client Names. Use the actual names and types on your internal resume if it is relevant to the job that you want. This can help to show that you have delivered results and to show that you are ready to take the next step.
  • Project Details. Include specific project names, systems, teams, etc. on your internal resume to show exactly what you have done and who you have worked with if that's relevant to the job that you want next at the company.
  • Products. Incorporate details about the company's products that you are an expert in or that you have experience with. This will help to show that you bring a unique perspective and that you can incorporate that experience in the new role.
  • Processes You Improved. Remind people of the processes or programs that you have helped improve at the company. The results may not be quantifiable, but they can show your ability to collaborate and to think like a leader.  
  • Times You Saved Money. Companies always want to be more profitable or to use their finances more effectively. So, make sure to include examples of when you have done things or changed approaches to save money for the company. Reframe these examples as needed to connect with the role that you want to be promoted to.
  • When You Made Money. Making money for the organization that you are at is always a good example to include on your resume. This could be closing a new customer or helping to launch new products. Whatever your experience, make sure that you include details and internal jargon about how you made the company money on your resume.  

The more specific you can be in your resume for the internal promotion, the better. This means that you can and should cover everything that is relevant that you have done at the company. Focus on the details, the people, the processes, products, and systems that you have experience with. This will enable you to stand out from the external competition and to create a clear message for you internally. And, don't forget to submit that resume on time in whatever way is required to make sure that you can be considered for the promotion.


Want professional help to build your resume to land the promotion? Get help now with our team of proven resume writing experts.

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