Why Some Jobs Are Internal Applicants Only

By Sky Ariella
Oct. 13, 2022

Find a Job You Really Want In

When scouring through job postings, it may surprise you to find a couple that are listed as being only open to internal applicants. “Internal applicants only” means that, although hiring managers are posting these positions on job boards available to anyone, they’re exclusive to people who already currently work for the company.

This leaves many outsiders wondering why they choose to limit their applicant pool and if it’s worth it to apply anyway. In this article, we’ll talk about why jobs are only open to internal applicants, whether or not you should still apply as an external applicant, and how to best apply for these roles.

Key Takeaways

  • Companies often limit jobs to internal applicants because they’re already considering an employee for the position, it saves resources, or they want someone who knows the company already, among other reasons.

  • When applying for a job as an internal applicant, treat it as seriously as you would any other job.

  • When applying for an internal-only job as an external applicant, be patient and don’t get your expectations too high.

Why Some Jobs Are Internal Applicants Only

Reasons Jobs Are Only Open to Internal Applicants

While limiting applicant eligibility to only internal candidates confuses a lot of eager job-seekers, there are a few reasons why an organization does this:

  1. There’s an employee they’re already considering for the position. A big reason for listing career opportunities on job sites is because the hiring manager is already considering a potential candidate for the role.

    When a recruiter is fairly confident in their decision, but still wants to see what candidates are out there, listing the position for internal applicants only is a solid option.

    It allows them to gauge the talent available without attracting a smorgasbord of unremarkable applicants that they’ll have to go through.

  2. It saves resources. The hiring process is an extensive one that costs a company two valuable resources: time and money. Narrowing the accepted applicants to internal only saves both of these assets by speeding up the proceedings.

  3. They want someone who knows the company already. Another possible reason that a company lists open positions to internal applicants only is that they want to hire someone who knows them already.

    This is a huge benefit of hiring within because it means that the organization doesn’t need to spend as much time training them as they would if they were a brand new hire.

  4. The company is already familiar with the applicant. There’s a considerable amount of chance that comes along with hiring external applicants. Even though a candidate might seem like the perfect option throughout the onboarding phase, it could be a different story once they’re comfortable in their role.

    An internal-only application decreases some of the risks associated with the hiring process because the company is already familiar with the employee’s work and habits.

  5. Providing promotions to high-performing employees. Maintaining employee satisfaction means providing a workplace with upward mobility.

    Hiring internally for high-ranking or competitive positions shows staff that there’s room to grow within the organization. This builds a relationship of loyalty between an employer and their employees.

How to Apply for an Internal Applicant Only Position Within Your Company

If you enjoy working for your current company but are interested in migrating towards new responsibilities, looking into internal job opportunities is the way to go.

Applying to an internal role with your employer supplies the opportunity to transition to a job with a different focus, higher pay, or more responsibilities without needing to start over with a new company.

Once you’ve decided that applying to an internal job posting is the right career move, follow the steps below to get it done:

  1. Check job boards. Before you can apply for a job opening, you need to find the perfect internal opportunity that fits your skills and experience.

    Checking job boards often make sure that you never miss out on the chance to apply to a great position. Many job sites even allow you to receive email alerts when internal positions at your company are posted.

    Additionally, large corporations usually have their organization’s job openings listed on their website. This is an excellent place to stay updated, as well.

  2. Tailor your resume and application for the role requirements. Even though you’re applying for a position within the company you already work for, that doesn’t mean the application process is any easier.

    As with applying to a new company, tailor your resume to fit the expectations of the role you’re going for. Before submitting your application, return to your resume and edit it accordingly to highlight the skills and experience that make you ideal for the position.

  3. Source references. Securing positive references from past professional relationships is an essential part of any job application process, especially for an internal job posting.

    It makes your application stand out from the rest when you’ve been given endorsements from other reliable staff that the company trusts.

  4. Attend interviews. After applying to a few promising positions, you’ll hopefully hear back from at least one inviting you to an interview. Prepare for an internal interview as rigorously as you would with an external company.

    Their line of questioning may vary from a standard interview because they already have a sense of who you are. The internal interview questions might be more focused on the work you’ve done for the company, knowledge of their values, and your career goals.

  5. Follow up with an appreciation for the opportunity. After interviewing for a job within your current company, it’s always a nice touch to follow-up with the hiring manager to share your appreciation for being considered.

    Whether you’ve landed the job or not, they took the time to evaluate you, and that’s something to be grateful for.

Should External Applicants Apply for Internal Only Job Postings?

Despite an internal job posting being targeted toward applicants who already work for a corporation, many applicants still consider putting their name in the running.

After weighing the pros and cons, hopeful job-seekers wonder what the worst that could happen is from applying to a job that requested only internal applicants.

The answer is that not much negative can come from sending in your resume, regardless of the requirement, other than not hearing back or being offered the position.

While there’s a strong possibility that an external candidate’s application is ignored for an internal job posting, it doesn’t hurt to try. When choosing to go against a job description’s requirements for internal applicants only, be aware that you might be waiting a while for a response.

As a rule, internal job postings follow through with all the eligible applicants before turning to external candidates.

Tips for Applying to an Internal Only Job Posting as an External Candidate

  1. Don’t get your hopes up too high. It’s a stretch to submit yourself as an external candidate for an internal job posting. You’re already missing one of the most important qualifications to be hired.

    With that in mind, try to keep your hopes of getting the position aligned with the situation’s reality. Even if you don’t get the job, the application process earned you some worthwhile experience, and it’ll keep your name in mind for future positions with the company.

  2. Edit your resume to perfection. Going into an application process with a perfectly polished resume is the best course of action, regardless of the kind of job you’re applying for.

    When you’re aiming to get a job with requirements you don’t completely fulfill, it makes the quality of your resume even more important

    Before sending your resume off for an open internal-only position, edit it carefully with the knowledge that a single mistake might ruin your chances with an already difficult job to get.

  3. Make sure you meet all the other requirements. There is a medium-to-long list of basic requirements that a candidate needs to perform the job well in the description for a job.

    For positions only accepting internal applicants, individuals applying from outside the company are already missing a major requirement they’re asking for. Combatting this as an external applicant means satisfying all the rest of the qualifications for the job.

    Not being a current employee to the company or government agency won’t be overlooked unless the candidate meets every other requirement.

  4. Research the company you’re applying for. One reason companies choose to post internal-only positions is that they want to hire someone already familiar with the company and their work philosophy.

    As an external candidate, do some research beforehand about the organization and its mission. In order to outshine candidates who already work for the company, you’ll need to educate yourself on the business.

  5. Include a professional cover letter. When applying to a position that you might not be entirely qualified for, it’s recommended to include a cover letter. A cover letter is sent off along with an application to give a candidate the chance to market themselves to a potential employer.

    Some applicants use this space to expand on some of the skills and experience they’ve listed in their resume to increase the possibility of receiving an interview.

    For an external candidate applying to an internal-only position, a cover letter is best used to explain why you decided to still submit yourself for consideration, despite the job requirements. This explanation could include information about your experience, abilities, and passion for working at their company in particular.

  6. Be prepared to wait a while. The hiring process is a grueling endeavor. It can take a while to go through every applicant’s information to decide if they’re a match for the role.

    When you’re applying for an internal-only position, expect to wait even longer than you would when applying for a regular job listing. Hiring managers who post available jobs as internal only have a responsibility to go through the viable candidate’s information first.

    As an external candidate, your application will be considered after every internal applicant’s information has been evaluated. This process might take anywhere from a week to a few months or more.

Internal Applicants FAQ

  1. Do internal candidates have to be interviewed?

    Yes, internal applicants do have to be interviewed. Interviewing your internal candidates is one of the best ways you can give your employees full and fair consideration for a job. This way, if you don’t end up hiring them, they’ll at least know they were given a chance.

    This isn’t just considerate, it’s also beneficial for the company, as it’s more likely that the candidate will stay at the organization even if they don’t get the new job.

  2. Are internal interviews harder?

    Yes, internal interviews are often harder. They aren’t always harder, but sometimes internal applicants are asked harder questions or held to a higher standard than the average person coming in off the street.

    Even if they don’t have higher expectations for you, since the hiring manager likely already knows about you, they may spend less time on the basic questions and get right down to the nitty-gritty, which can make for a more difficult interview.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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