5 mistakes that internal job candidates make

If you're an internal candidate for a job, you may think they have an advantage in the hiring process. That's true to an extent. However, there are some areas in which external candidates could have the upper hand. External candidates have the benefit of crafting their own image. Since they're only in front of the hiring managers during interviews, they're able to present themselves in the best possible light.

Internal candidates, on the other hand, are always on display. Managers are able to see how you perform on a day-in-day-out basis. That includes seeing your worst moments as well as your best.

In larger companies, a hiring manager for an opening may not have interacted with you on a regular basis. However, it's usually very easy for a manager to consult with those who do work with you consistently. When you sit down for an interview, the hiring manager will likely know all of your strengths and weaknesses before the conversation even begins.

Given these unique challenges, it's important for you take the internal hiring process just as seriously as you would take an external job opportunity. There are several specific mistakes that internal candidates frequently make. Avoid these five mistakes and you'll be in great position to land the job.

1) Thinking they have an edge. By far, this is the most common - and most serious - mistake that internal candidates make. They believe that because they're well known in the company or because they have a relationship with the hiring manager they have a built-in advantage over other candidates.

It's good to be confident, but sometimes the feeling of having an edge can translate into cockiness. You're best served by taking the process seriously and approaching it with a sense of humility. Put your best foot foward and assume that there are plenty of other excellent prospects under consideration.

2) Not following the process. The job posting will likely have a very formal application process. It may include an online application and resume submission. It may require emailing your resume to an HR contact.

Too often, internal candidates feel they are exempt from that process. Yes, the hiring manager may sit right by your desk. That doesn't mean you should drop your resume on their desk and skip the rest of the process. That kind of behavior may indicate that you can't follow simple instructions. It's okay to have conversations about the position, but when it comes to the actual application, follow the process like every other candidate.

3) Not being aware of their reputation. Good or bad, you can be sure you have a reputation within your company. You may be known as an effective team player and leader who gets the job done. Alternatively, you could be known as a difficult employee who clashes with others. Whatever your reputation, be sure you're aware of it before you interview. That way you can address it head on.

4) Not telling their current manager. It's always good form to be honest with your current manager when you're applying for a new position. By keeping it under wraps, you could insult your manager and also put them in a difficult position from a planning perspective. You could also be losing out on a powerful advocate who could boost your chances of landing the new job.

Internal candidates are often worried that their supervisors will be offended if they find out about an application for a new position. The truth is, most managers got to their position by applying for an internal position. They know how the process works and they may be happy to help you land the job.

5) Glossing over or lying about blemishes. There's nothing worse than being caught in a lie in an interview. If you have had a challenging experience or a career blemish, simply assume that the hiring manager already knows about it. Focus your energy on crafting a way to address the issue rather than on how to cover it up.

You're in an excellent position if you're an internal candidate for a job. However, that doesn't mean the job is yours. Take the process seriously and prepare for it as if you're an external candidate. If you can do that and avoid these mistakes, you'll greatly improve your odds.