Passed Over for an Internal Job: Should You Tell Your Boss

Two years ago, I penned some thoughts about career options if individuals find themselves passed over for a promotion/internal job at their current employer.  Yesterday, I wrote about how to interact with the new boss if one should decide to stay.  Today, I want to address a question I have received from multiple readers: “Should I tell my new boss I was a candidate for the job?”

The motivation behind this conversation is important to consider when answering the question.  If one is focused on being supportive and positive with the one’s new supervisor (as mentioned in yesterday’s post), I can understand the desire and potential good that can come from having the conversation.

In this scenario, you sit down with the boss and let him know you had applied and interviewed for the role, that you wanted him to know this fact to better understand the office  dynamics, but that you are 100% on board with the outcome and would like to assist him with the transition to ensure the office’s success.  This is taking the high road and eliminating possible territorial conflicts between you and your new boss.

The caveat to having this conversation is you have to be supportive of your new boss, especially in public, in order for this to work.  If you have the heart-to-heart chat and then openly undercut, question, challenge him/her – you are setting yourself up for a quick departure that will include a visit from HR, a security guard, and a cardboard box of your personal belongings.

Another motivation for having this conversation is to communicate to your new boss that you are a leader within the office and someone who is very qualified.  In short, you want the her to know that you are the most talented person in the department.  While you may think this may influence her to see you as a valuable asset, it usually turns out the other way – the boss sees you as a threat.

If you want to be seen as the superstar, keep your mouth shut and let your actions do the talking.  Support your new boss as described in yesterday’s posts (providing institutional history, helping avoid landmines, etc.) and be the top performer as you have been in the past.  Good managers are going to see that you are talented and a valuable asset to the department.

Before you ask for a 15 minute chat with the new boss about your candidacy, be sure you are honest with yourself about the motivation behind the talk.

Tomorrow: Handling the new boss who is a dumpster fire.

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About Kevin Monahan

I have 10+ years experience in coaching clients in their career management and career change efforts. Personal career consulting services combined with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituents.
This entry was posted in Career Management, Communications, Job Search, Negotiations, rejection and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Passed Over for an Internal Job: Should You Tell Your Boss

  1. I like how you emphasize being aware of one’s motivations before asking for a talk. It’s true that we all too often share information for reasons that aren’t most appropriate for a given setting, such as a work setting. Having to work with a boss who got a job you wanted is tricky enough, but I agree with you that having that person know you wanted the job could create even more awkwardness (or worse…). I’d vent to friends and family instead, and then, as you said, aim to be the best worker I can be so that the next time a promotion opportunity rolls around, I’d be first in line for it (and maybe even be chosen by that new boss!)

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