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THE QUESTION

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?

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I'm thinking of inviting the director out for coffee confidentially to find out whether the company is going to replace my boss, who are the members of the hiring committee, and what the process is, but I would appreciate your advice. There may be another wrinkle, in that I heard that the position may not be filled.

THE FIRST ANSWER

Zuleika Sgro

Human resources partner, talent manager, Questrade.com, Toronto

If your organization has a procedure for internal applications, you should follow that process to apply for the position. As you are working in a union environment, there is likely a procedure to apply formally, so I suggest you refer to your collective agreement and contact human resources for support in understanding the process.

The conversation about your interest in the job should start with your direct manager. While he may be leaving the company, and the conversation may be awkward, he is still your boss and going above him to the director will likely get back to your manager. Let your manager know of your interest and ask for his support, as well as any advice in terms of next steps.

If you are trying to gather more informal insight before applying for the position, I also advise you to speak with your manager first. He will know the position best, as well as the transition plan. If the company is not going to fill his role, perhaps there are plans to ease the transition, including new opportunities that may be of interest to you.

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Prepare a summary of your qualifications to discuss, and also your short- and long-term plans. This will help to showcase your forward-thinking abilities. It will also show him you are prepared and serious about next steps.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

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.

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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.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to mailto:ninetofive@globeandmail.com..

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