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How to Change Jobs Within a Company Without Making Your Boss Mad

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Moving up in your profession sometimes requires making internal moves with your current employer. This can mean applying for jobs in different departments and taking advantage of new opportunities as they present themselves. To maintain good relationships with your colleagues and managers, use caution in how your make your way up the corporate ladder.

Good Boss Relationship

If you respect your manager and work well with him, ask for career advice and seek his assistance as a mentor. A boss who feels invested in your career will be willing to support you as you transition to bigger things. He might also help pave the way through his own influence. If you have an open relationship with your boss, talk to him about applying for the internal job before you do it. Emphasize your appreciation for the opportunities you’ve had under his direction and explain why you want the new position, such as branching off in a new direction.

Poor Boss Relationship

If you and your boss never hit it off, or if you have a strained relationship that's connected to your desire to change jobs, tread lightly with how you depart. Don’t say anything that will make your boss feel like you're making a move because you think your current job is beneath you, or because he's a bad manager. Keep conversations about your resignation neutral and professional. For example, you might say, "I'm interested in a new challenge for my career." Don't talk negatively about your boss to your colleagues, you'll still be working for the same company and need to maintain a good relationship with everyone.

Stay Connected

Give prior notice for leaving your position just as you would if you were leaving the company altogether. Tie up all loose ends in your old job and complete outstanding projects. Offer to train your replacement or bring someone else up to speed on the position’s responsibilities and workload. If your new job allows you to interact with your old boss, look for ways to make the most of the relationship for the benefit of the company. For example, if you're moving from marketing to production, you know how important deadlines are. Use this knowledge to help streamline the way your departments work in tandem, improving communication through production calendars and maintaining personal contact with old colleagues to provide status updates. If your new role can help you bridge a gap between departments, it makes the entire business run more efficiently.

Manage Resentment

If your boss gets upset with you at any point in the process, there isn’t much to do aside from being professional and trying to deflect his anger. For example, you might say, "I'm sorry you're upset I'm leaving the department. This is strictly a career-driven professional decision. I hope we can find effective ways to work together in the future." If your former boss continues to hold a grudge that negatively impacts your work, like talking poorly about you to your new boss or putting down your past performance to others, talk to your new manager or a human resources representative and provide specific examples of the troubling behavior. For example: "John appears to be upset about my job transfer. My former colleagues in marketing tell me he is saying I was a sloppy worker and that my ad campaigns were never successful. He's hinting that I'm not remotely qualified for my new role. I think this criticism is unfair and out of line, and the stress of dealing with it is impacting my ability to be effective in the workplace."


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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