I want to apply for my manager’s job. What’s the protocol?

Nine To Five: Special to The Globe and Mail, Published Sunday, May 4th


My manager has decided to take early retirement, but won’t be leaving for a few weeks yet. I am passionately interested in applying for the job. I’m currently in the union, but this is a non-union position.

When and how do I tell the director that I am interested in the job? Should I mention it now or wait till my manager is gone? If I wait, it may be too late, as they may have someone else in mind. If I do tell the director, what is to stop him from informing my boss about my interest? When should human resources become involved?


When a retirement is announced and a position is being vacated, whether the job is posted or not, it is public knowledge and therefore open to whomever is eligible. There should be no problem with your manager knowing of your interest in his job. At the appropriate time engage your manager for his help in applying and interviewing for the position.

Approach the director immediately and arrange a quick meeting. Ask him when the manager’s position will be posted. You don’t want your meeting with the director to look like you are going over the manager’s head. Based on his answer, take it from there. If the position is to be eliminated, offer to pick up any slack as management reassigns responsibilities.

Let’s assume the job will be posted. Dress as smartly as possible and present yourself in the best possible light. In your meeting with the director, express your desire and intention to apply for the post. Be prepared to validate your worth and experience with specific action-plus-result stories that highlight the skills needed to do the manager’s job. Tell the director why you are an appropriate candidate by focusing on what you can do for the company. This is not a review of your past accomplishments but a chance to show your vision for the future.

Once back at your post, immediately start behaving like someone who has more responsibility and maturity, is highly reliable and is more experienced than you were a week ago. Start building any bridges you haven’t already established. Hone your communication skills. If there isn’t a posting now, there could be one down the road and you want to be the person management thinks about first.

Contact Colleen Clarke, your choice for career development and corporate training.

COLLEEN CLARKE is a highly recognized career specialist, corporate trainer, and public speaker in the areas of career management and transition, communication and networking. For the past 18 years she has motivated, inspired and counseled thousands of groups and individuals to maximize their career potential. Colleen is also a certified Workplace Coach with the Adler Institute. She is author of “Networking How To Build Relationships That Count” and “How To Get a Job and Keep It” and co-author of “The Power of Mentorship: The Mastermind Group”.