If you’re feeling like your job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, your first instinct is probably to browse job postings online. Sure, you could just be in the wrong role, but moving around internally can be a tricky situation. How do you approach the subject? What will your manager think? It’s no wonder that many employees decide to look outside their organization.
The truth is, though, moving to a different department is often encouraged in large companies, where they want to make sure that employees use their best skills—not to mention stick around for a while.
In 11 years at Caesars Entertainment, Ken Janssen has taken on a wide range of positions, from guest services and human resources analytics to casino marketing and property management. Now, as Vice President of Leadership Development, he helps other employees move within the company.
“We try to grow our talent from within and make a commitment to their development,” he says. If you’re also at a company where department jumps are possible, Ken has some advice for how to make a move.
What to Do When it’s Time for Change
Career coaches often recommend tackling a career rut by first listing the things that are important to you. Is it the ability to be creative? An opportunity to manage people? To travel and get a change of scenery for a while?
Then, make a list of the skills that you’d like to develop further. Maybe you’re an amazing writer who is stuck in a project management role. Or you’re a people person who stares at spreadsheets all day. Be clear about what you’re good at and what you’d like to be doing more of.
Once you have both of these lists together, do some research about roles within your organization that may fulfill your goals. Find a few? Great. Ken recommends setting time to talk with your HR or talent department about your goals and what training or skills you might need to get there. Ideally, he says, “they will help guide you to the appropriate training and get you in front of the right people so that you’re ready when an opportunity becomes available.”
Speak Up to Switch Roles
Of course, you won’t get a new role just by asking; shifting gears takes work on your part, too. Ken’s quick to mention the power of networking, volunteering, and speaking up—as meetings can be the perfect place to show other teams you have what it takes to join their ranks.
“Always have recommendations. You should walk into every meeting with two or three different recommendations. It demonstrates your understanding of issues and the ability to think critically,” Ken says.
Beyond that, show your enthusiasm for tasks outside of your role. “If you want to make a move,” he suggests, “don’t be afraid of unattractive work. Volunteer and crush that project. No one’s doing it because it’s not that exciting, but you can turn it into an exciting project if you’re enthusiastic about it, and people [will notice].”
Look to Mentors—and Surprising Opportunities
When you know that you want change, but you’re not exactly sure what kind, talking to others can help you figure out where you fit in best. If your company doesn’t have a formal mentorship program, simply talking to more senior employees about how they navigated moving internally can help you plot your own move. It’s also a good way to throw ideas around before making a formal pitch to HR.
Ken also recommends being social as a means to maneuver within the company—after all, you never know what relationships will lead to your next role.
“Ask someone to have coffee, whether or not you know them well. People are very generous with their time and will usually say yes. You just have to reach out.”
Also, remember that when you’re a large organization, there could be roles that you never knew existed. Ken often sees this when he talks to Caesars employees. “People don’t realize that there’s work in hotels, restaurants, entertainment, technology, and finance. Caesars even created a role called ‘Vice President of Customer Journey’ that will manage a visit from vacation planning to post-trip follow up,” he says. “Because the business is so diverse, employees can work up a vertical track or become a jack-of-all-trades and get different experiences.”
Bottom line? Keep an open mind. You might just find the role you’re looking for, just a few cubicle doors away.