Thinking Like an Employer: The 5 Steps to Getting a Job or a Promotion Inside an Organization

By Elisabeth Sanders-Park

For career professionals, helping people understand how to access career opportunities inside organizations is important. Whether working with employees who want to access an internal promotion or aiding external job seekers who come to you for an informational interview, these individuals need a reliable process to access opportunities. The following “5 Steps,” when combined, will help job/promotion seekers become more marketable in their careers and address the concerns that employers have as they consider candidates.


Step 1: Find the Desire/Motivation to Work

Many career professionals encourage clients to find their passion in order to fuel their desire to work. While this is an excellent practice, it’s important to remind them that employers also have a desire: they want the people that work for them to want to work there. The employer rarely benefits from an employee that doesn’t enjoy coming to work.


To help individuals find the desire to work for the employer, career professionals can help employees and job seekers:



Step 2: Clarify the Career Direction and Job Target

Focus on clarifying the individual’s career direction and the next steps to be taken. Too often, job seekers or employees hoping to be promoted expect the employer to identify where they’d best fit in. This is the responsibility of the job seeker or employee, not the employer.


To clarify direction and target, career professionals can help individuals:



Step 3: Prepare Proof They Can Do the Job

Clearly, people should not pursue jobs they cannot do. However, when people are making transitions, they may not have all the requisite experience needed for the job. And, some of their qualifications may come from non-traditional sources. So, the challenge is to present their proof of qualification in ways that hiring managers will ‘buy.’


Career professionals can assist by guiding individuals to start researching and identifying the manager’s top needs in an ideal candidate for the target job. Then, consider these techniques for proof of performance:



Step 4: Avoid Getting Screened Out

Employers are inundated with applications when advertising an opening to the general public. In the early stages of filling a position, their job involves jettisoning excess baggage. We can help those in the candidate queue get closer to the job of their dreams by helping them successfully handle barriers. Here are tools from The Six Reasons You’ll Get the Job that career practitioners can use to help individuals address any number of challenges:



Step 5: Access and Impress Decision Makers

Being great for the job isn’t enough. The hiring manager—the person who can say ‘yes’—must be convinced. In a formal job opening, the majority of candidates are screened-out before the decision maker enters the process. Only a handful make it past the screening process and talk with the person who has the power to hire. Gaining access to decision makers is critical. Career professionals can use these suggestions from The Six Reasons You’ll Get the Job to help those they work with:



These five steps build upon one another. You may encounter individuals who can prove their qualifications (Step 3) but are not convinced they want to work or are not excited about working for the target employer (Step 1). Or you may see some who can access and impress decision makers (Step 5) but don’t know what they want to do (Step 2). For someone to be both prepared and create enough opportunity to land their next opportunity, all five steps must be addressed. This overview can help you and the people you serve build a reliable framework for thinking through and expediting the process.




MacDougall, D. and Sanders-Park, E. (2010). The Six Reasons You’ll Get the Job. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Press.



Elizabeth Sanders-ParkElisabeth H. Sanders-Park has been a leader in bringing career solutions to people facing significant barriers for more than 15 years. She co-authored the ground-breaking, L.A. Times top ten career book No One Is Unemployable, as well as The Six Reasons You’ll Get the Job and 50+ publications used to help people make tough career transitions. As a trainer and speaker, she has equipped and inspired more than 10,000 career industry professionals and employment staff in schools, prisons, workforce centers, and social service programs across North America. She also teaches the Certified Tough Transitions Career Coach program at www.TheAcademies.com. To learn more about Elisabeth, visit her website www.worknetsolutions.com or email her at Elisabeth@worknetsolutions.com.


Philip Tomlinson on Wednesday 05/02/2012 at 10:48AM wrote:

This is pretty good advice. I love it all begins with finding out what the job seeker's passion is.

It's really hard to stay focused on looking for employment when you aren't even passionate about what you will be doing in the future.

Susan Whitcomb on Wednesday 05/02/2012 at 11:04AM wrote:

Agreed (about starting with passion), and I love that it intersects the employer's perspective. Passion absent a "market need" separates the jobseeker from the job! Too often, job seekers miss this important point.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the opinions of this organization.