You’ve found the job of your dreams at an amazing company. This is the kind of job you’re going to be bragging about for months if you get it. It’s perfect for you.
So, you giddily apply. You send in your resume and cover letter, and eagerly await a response from the employer. Then, a few days later, you get the call for an interview.
You’ve never been so excited about a job opportunity. After walking out of the interview feeling like you completely nailed it, you think, This is it! I’m perfect for this job. They’d be crazy not to hire me.
And then you wait. And wait. And wait a little longer. And then, finally, you get the email. Only it’s far from the message you’d hoped for:
Thank you for your interest in this position. Unfortunately, we’ve decided to fill this position internally. Best of luck on your search.
All of that excitement built up for nothing. Once again, you lost out on a job because of an internal candidate. You thought you were so close, but now, you’re back to square one.
Well, you’re not alone with your frustrations. Thousands of qualified candidates get this upsetting news every day. Who can compete with internal candidates?
You can, actually. You just need to play your cards a little more strategically. If you want to get a job over an internal candidate, you have to act like one. Before you can do that, though, you need to understand the advantages internal candidates have over you. Here are a few…
1. They know the company inside and out.
Internal candidates clearly understand the company’s mission, values, beliefs, and goals. Whether they’ve worked there for a few months or a few decades, most internal candidates have been around a company long enough to know the inside scoop. This is a huge advantage because it allows them to position themselves effectively for the job in question.
What you need to do: Research the company. Before you even apply to this job, you should have a clear understanding of what the company does, how it does it, and what it wants to do next. You should also know the company’s mission, values, and beliefs. That way, you’ll be able to respond to the question, “What do you know about us?” with an informed answer.
2. The company knows how they work.
The people who work closely with internal candidates already understand how they work and interact with others in the company. They also have a clear sense of their strengths and weaknesses on the job.
Employers already know what value these candidates bring to the table because they have a proven track record. As an external candidate, you must give them a clear sense of how your unique qualifications make you the best person for the job.
What you need to do: Clearly articulate your value. Show them why your unique experience and qualifications make you the best person for the job. Oh, and don’t be shy about sharing new ideas. As an external candidate, you have the opportunity to bring in a fresh perspective. Use it to your advantage! Overcome your weaknesses, and recognize your interaction and work styles so you can market yourself effectively to employers.
3. They have personal relationships within the company.
Having the opportunity to work with and get to know people within the company is a major advantage of internal candidates. They already have established relationships with their bosses, peers, clients, and so on. People know them. They can vouch for them. If you want to beat out an internal candidate for a job, you need to be able to have those kinds of strong endorsements, too.
What you need to do: Network your way in. Knowing people within the company you wish to work can give you a major advantage over other candidates. Establishing those relationships can help you get referrals, recommendations, introductions, and even advice for applying to the job.
4. They already “fit” within the company culture.
Taking in new employees can be much harder than you might think for an employer. For example, hiring the wrong employee in a small company can completely destroy the culture, resulting in poor performance, miscommunication, and even people leaving (voluntarily or non-voluntarily). All of that disruption can cost a company a big chunk of change. So, now more than ever, companies are factoring in company “fit” when employing new candidates.
Internal candidates have already established themselves into their organizations. Bosses, co-workers, and clients know them. They’re comfortable with them. They like them. They have proven they fit within the culture of that company. This is a major advantage when it comes to beating out external candidates for a different position within the company.
What you need to do: Show them you fit within their culture. People like working with like-minded people – people who “get” them. Not only does it help them form stronger bonds, but it also helps them work more effectively with each other. Sure, it’s good to have your differences, but if you want to prove that you’re a fit in a company, you have to show them you’re part of their “tribe.” You must show them that you understand them and you like how they operate so they feel comfortable letting you into their exclusive circle.
Also, it’s important to remember that not all internal candidates are lucky enough to have these advantages. Some simply aren’t the best fit for the company; others don’t have a clear sense of the company’s goals. However, if you can show an employer that you’ve worked hard to obtain these things, you will have a much better chance at the job.