When you search jobs free, you probably want to consider all your opportunities. That could mean both external and internal openings. Both paths have their own advantages and disadvantages so take everything into account. It will help you to decide whether to look within your own company or move on to another employer.
External openings provide more options: If you work at a small organization, external openings could be your only realistic chance for advancement. Otherwise, you have to count on getting lucky or possibly waiting for a very long time for something to come along. Even at larger companies, you need to check the track record for promotions from within. Some places may favor internal candidates and others may usually bring in new talent.
Internal openings can be more risky: You usually have more at stake when you apply for a new position with your current employer than if you were contacting a stranger. Consider whether your current supervisor is likely to be supportive of your making a move. Beware of applying for too many positions. It could make you look unfocused. There may also be negative consequences if someone else is hired for a position you sought. Your employer may be concerned that you will be disappointed and that those feelings could affect your performance.
External and internal openings are just as competitive: One myth should be cleared up. Internal candidates do not necessarily have an edge. You still need to prove that you are the best choice. On top of that, an outside candidate is an unknown property while you may have to do considerable damage control if your evaluations have been less than stellar.
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