Applying for an Internal listing: HR people please help


There is a job that I believe I am fully qualified for, and would be an excellent fit. However it is listed under “internal positions” as opposed to “external positions”. I do not currently work for this organization so I don’t believe I qualify for internal positions. My questions are:

Is it worth a shot at applying anyway? Do they just completely ignore all external candidates?

If they can’t find an internal candidate and it gets opened up to external candidates would my applying for the job when it was listed as internal affect me?

Is it considered bad form to do this?

This job closes August 2nd, so timely help would be great. Thanks.


How did you find out about the job? If through friends, then have one refer you to the HR or personnel department if they feel you are a candidate.

You can always send in your resume to any company. Finding good talent is hard right now, so if your resume looks good, they’ll keep it handy.

Many companies prefer to hire from within, but often need to go outside for talent. Get your resume in via a friend as a referral for the posted job (1st choice) or send in the resume and follow up with a letter and/or phone call as the second best option.

The job is listed in the HR site of the organization. The HR page has 3 sections; internal, external and research positions. None ask for a password or any authentication. I have plenty of friends who go to this University, but none who actually work for it (unless you count grad students as working;) ). I have thought about just sending in my resume, but every job I have seen listed always says “please specify job number/title/etc” so I sort of figured most of the resumes that are sent to the general HR are probably ignored.

If I do send to general HR, do I include a cover letter?

How are you aware of the position? It’s pretty bad HR form to post internal positions where external applicants can see them.

I can’t see it hurting you to apply. Many organizations have a policy of posting everything internally for a week before posting it externally. So they may indeed wind up looking externally.

On the other hand, don’t get your hopes up too much. Sometimes positions are posted as internal because of budget or political reasons that won’t be overcome even for the most qualified external candidate.

My suggestion would be to apply. If you can find a way to acknowledge that you know the search is just internal at this point, that might be a good thing. Applicants who “can’t read” or “don’t follow instructions” are sometimes uniformly ignored. If you know someone who works at the company who can inquire about the internal posting, the odds of them taking it external, and perhaps forward your resume, that would be helpful. Where an otherwise internal search gets taken external when it otherwise would not have, that’s usually what’s behind it–a referral from a current employee.

Yes, include a cover letter.

Now that I know it is a university, I will add that universities tend to have extremely bureaucratic hiring processes. IME they will not consider an external applicant unless the position becomes posted as external. I suggest getting your resume to the actual hiring department in addition to general HR, even if that’s not the recommended process. The department makes the call as to whether they want to post it as external.

Should it be more of a generic “this is why I am good, here are my skills” or should I tailor it to the more specific job that they are advertising?

I am attempting to find out whom I should email in the department through a friend of a friend now. Hopefully they can help as they work for the IT department of Queen’s.

The more specific the cover letter is to the job, the better. The only reason to make cover letters generic is if it is a necessary timesaver for you to apply to multiple positions. I can’t think of any situation where specific to the job is bad.

Best of luck!

Thanks for all your help and advice, Harriet the Spry, I appreciate it.

I work at a university and occasionally we have positions posted for internal applicants only. There’s really two kinds:

  • Positions for those who already work here. In this case, we know who we want to hire, but it’s not a straight promotion so we have some rule that it has to be posted for X days.

  • Positions for those in the “University Community” meaning you currently work or go to school here, or are in the associated religious order. For these postings, being in the community is a requirement for the job, and your resume will not be considered (and maybe not even read) if you apply for it. You’ll have to re-apply again if the job is re-posted for anyone, as the original posting will have been closed out by HR and all sorts of paperwork filed and your resume lost to oblivion.

The email address that is linked to the “apply for this job” link and the general HR application email is the same. The job details say nothing about who to apply to, and gives no other contact information. Does this make a difference/mean anything?

It just means that all applications go through HR first, which means if you’re applying for, say, the Helpdesk job, they’ll check that you meet certain requirements first before passing it on to the people that will be making the hiring decisions. One of these requirements would be that you are an internal applicant.

If this is Queen’s University you’re looking at, note that their “Apply External” page says:

It would be Queen’s and it would be that job. Ok, I will apply for sure. Thanks all!