Love my job, don't love my boss, how do I transfer successfully?
October 23, 2015 10:18 AM   Subscribe

After a year and a half of trying to make it work with an abusive manager, I'm throwing in the towel and actively looking to transfer. The problem? I have a lot of trouble with the "why are you looking to transfer/leave" question that keeps popping up in informationals with hiring managers in other departments

I have a job and a team that I love, working at a very high profile and successful company. However, the whole well is poisoned by having an inexperienced manager who is controlling and abusive. Because I love the job and the team so much I've really, really tried to make things work- to the point where it has destroyed my health (physical and mental). I have been getting help (doctor and therapist) for the health portion, so this question isn't about that.

It's become clear to me that I need to leave- things got so bad to the point where I had to involve HR, and HR's recommendation, my manager's recommendation, and my director's recommendation is that I should just transfer somewhere else if I can't put up and shut up (I was hoping to get moved under someone else and keep doing the same job with the same team, but it's been made abundantly clear to me that is NOT an option).

I have been having informal informationals with hiring managers in other departments as I'd like to stay at the same company (I do like working for the company and I have a TON of RSUs that I don't want to walk away from). Usually things go pretty well until they ask why I'm looking/why I want to leave. I have gone with the usual BS of "seeking new opportunities" "want to expand my skillset" "want to experience other parts of (company)" "looking for something that is a better long-term fit" but I don't think I've been very convincing so far (usually if someone wants to leave a position after a year and a half, something is wrong). How do I handle this to become more successful at answering this question so that I can get past the informational to an interview process elsewhere? Obviously, telling them I am leaving because of a bad boss is not an option.

Have you been there before? Were you able to successfully transfer within a large company to another department in order to leave a toxic boss? How did you handle the "why do you want to leave your current position" question? As a note, I have been having informationals for roles very similar to the one I'm doing now, but in departments that are less high visibility than the one I work in now so I think a lot of the questioning is probably along the lines of "why on earth would you want to leave THAT for THIS?"
posted by raw sugar to Work & Money (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: You're not looking to get out of Job A, you're looking to get into Job B. Frame it like that, and make it specific. Rather than "I want to expand my skill set," say "I've done X, Y, and Z in Job A, and I've exceeded expectations/averages in these ways, and now I want to get experience in P, Q, and R in Job B, and here's why X, Y, and Z make me a good choice to do P, Q, and R but will still give me room to grow."
posted by Etrigan at 10:21 AM on October 23, 2015 [19 favorites]


Best answer: You know, I once tried to be honest in an interview with the vague, "It wasn't a good cultural fit...." and then got drilled, "What exactly wasn't a good fit for you?" and no amount of vagueness satisfied the interviewer because this kind of thing ends up only reflecting poorly on you. Managers and other folks seem to think the onus is on everyone else to "be a good fit." And as the underling, you are always in a position of subservience where you have to just make do with whatever crap your manager or boss is pulling. It's one of the things that sucks about offices and that kind of system.

You should only be looking for great, new, interesting opportunities within your company. Focus the questions on the work that you've done and what you are interested in doing.

"Why are you looking to leave your current position?"
"I have really enjoyed my team, especially working on X, Y, & Z projects where I got to do these particular things which I not only enjoyed but felt really successful at. The opportunity in your department to continue on with that work and build up additional skill sets is really exciting to me."
"But, really, why are you leaving?"
"I really feel that it's important to be on a growth path and while there is more to learn in my position, the opportunity at your department seems more engaging to me and I'm excited to come on board."
"I feel like you're dodging the question."
"Honestly, I feel that I am stagnating there and I'd like new challenges...can you tell me more about the Cool Project that your team is doing? I'm very curious to learn about the timeline and the team...."

It's unlikely to get that direct but don't take the bait. Your current boss has nothing to do with your career path. It's been said that people don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. A good boss can make a bad job feel pretty ok. A bad boss can ruin everything.
posted by amanda at 10:32 AM on October 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Best answer: I think you're making the right answers. Remember that your perception of your answer is very different from their perception and it may sound unconvincing to you, but it might sound fine to the other person. Say you're looking for a change and and as Etrigan says, focus on specifics of the new opportunity. "The new job seems to have some X which I really like, or some Y which I have a lot of experience doing." These may seem like informal chat sessions but in many ways they're actually the most important parts of the interview process for the new job. While it may seem to you like the company would clearly like to keep you on (and it is indeed probably the best thing to do vs you quitting) the new boss may well have a stack of very good-looking resumes at hand, so you need to take advantage of your inside access to make a strong pitch. Internal transfers are generally not simply there for the asking, you're interviewing just like external candidates.

Finally, be patient. I looked for internal transfer opportunities at a big company and it was about as successful as external job hunting. I didn't get nearly all of the positions I applied for. It's work.
posted by GuyZero at 10:34 AM on October 23, 2015


abusive manager

Get the boss to be abusive on email or in a high-profile meeting.

Good luck.
posted by sninctown at 12:20 PM on October 23, 2015


Response by poster: Get the boss to be abusive on email or in a high-profile meeting.

I have done this more than once (or rather she has done it herself) and HR and upper management told me I was overreacting because it wasn't sexual harassment or a physical threat to do harm (those are the only circumstances where they'd do something)
posted by raw sugar at 2:16 PM on October 23, 2015


I've had better luck in in a situation like this by looking for a similar position at a different company, then coming back to the old company at a later time. At the new company, you can at least be honest and tell them you love the work, but the cultural fit hasn't been what you'd hoped. And the old company may be more willing to reward you in the future once they've had a chance to miss having you there. You have given them a reason to miss you, right?
posted by summerstorm at 5:38 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


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