Advance your career without trashing your competition

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Dear Joan:
I currently work as a coordinator in my present company and am looking to advance my career.  There are possibilities to advance to a larger department where I would be considered a Director.  I would still be in charge of my current department which would then be assumed by the new position, as well as title change. 
 
However, I recently found out, through the current director, that I am not being considered for the position.  I know that I am qualified.  I also know that the employee they are considering is not respected in our organization.   However, I would like to know the best way to make it known to my supervisor that I would like to be considered for the job, if it were available.  What is the best way to handle this without any mud slinging or unprofessional behavior?  What would be the most persuasive argument that I could make that could enlighten my supervisors? 
 
Answer:
When you start slinging mud, it usually ends up splattering you, too. You are wise to be looking for an above board approach for several reasons. Not only would badmouthing this candidate make your motive suspect; you would have to face working with her, if you don’t get the job. You might also poison your chances for a future promotion, if your actions were viewed as politically underhanded.
 
I can’t discern if the person they are considering is outside the company or outside your own area. If the candidate is from inside the company, there is a good chance they will find out about his or her reputation from your boss or others. If the person is from outside the company, that information may not be discovered.
 
I recommend that you tell your own supervisor that you are interested in applying for the position and ask for some advice about the best way to go about applying. If the job isn’t posted, ask your manager if he or she would be willing to support your candidacy to the hiring director in the other area.
 
If your boss tells you that you wouldn’t be considered for the position, ask, “Can you give me some feedback that will help me understand why I wouldn’t be considered? If I know, it would help me get ready for the next opportunity.” Manage your disappointment and listen carefully to the answer. If you still feel strongly that you should be considered, say, “I’d still like to be considered. If nothing else, going through the interview process would be valuable for me, and may position me for other opportunities in the future.”
 
If you aren’t going to be considered for the job and it looks like the other person is a finalist, you may be in a position to give your manager a heads up that could be passed along to the hiring manager. You could go to your manager and say, “We all have a vested interest in Sue making the right decision on who to hire for the new director position. I hope she does a good job checking references in (name the departments) before making an offer to Pat. There are some issues she may not be aware of.” If your manager is smart, the message will be delivered…without any mud at all.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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