A significant source of company hiring happens within. It pays to be aware of your employer’s internal process and culture around hiring and promotions. This month, the Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services interviews Jon Fraade (MBA ’84), managing director at JPMorgan Chase & Co., regarding his recent experience landing a significant new role at the bank.  

Jon, first please tell about the role you just landed, COO, and how that fits in the bank’s structure.

I’ve been appointed the chief operating officer of our retirement plan investment group.  This group sits within our chief investment officer/global treasury team, and is responsible for the investment of about $60 billion in retirement and benefit assets that relate to JPMorgan’s own employees.

You’ve successfully navigated through both internal and external job searches, what are the biggest differences, and similarities, between the two types of job search? 

Most important in either situation is the quality of your network of contacts and the reputation you have built. It is very important to do your homework, have a clear understanding of what you are interested in doing and know everything you can about the position and team with whom you are speaking.

The big difference is the road to success.  Internally, your quality is known and you should be able to more quickly decide if the fit is right. Externally, there are often many more hurdles to navigate and the challenge is to get your CV to the top of the pile. Critical to this is the quality of your network and ability to identify people who can effectively speak to your strengths.

Were the typical marketing materials of search — resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile — useful in an internal search?  Did they differ?

They are important, but less important than in an external search. LinkedIn is critical in all cases. In addition, a current and well-written profile on JPMorgan’s intranet site was crucial for me. However, each search is different and you cannot be too well prepared. So I was always ready with a full set of relevant marketing materials. The Armstrong Center was very helpful to me in preparing these.

Can you give other alumni some ideas for how to identify the best roles internally?

Don’t be hesitant, if the culture permits, to express an interest in making a job change.

Always be networking and actively follow-up on leads. Ask your primary contacts to introduce you to people whom you would like to meet if you feel that would be better than reaching out directly. My experience is that everyone is willing to meet, especially if you are willing to do so when it’s convenient for them. Your contacts may be aware of available positions before they are publically posted; this will give you an advantage in your search efforts.

It is also worthwhile to watch for formally posted positions. It’s very easy to remain focused on the job that you are in; but spending 10–15 minutes a week looking at other internal positions is valuable to both you and your employer.

How do you approach networking internally at your firm?

I have always had an interest in others; so networking is an extension of this interest. If I am in a meeting with someone who does something interesting, I will often reach out and invite them for coffee or lunch to get to know them better. Or, I’ll stop by their desk and chat. Having a genuine interest in others is key.

What if you get tapped for a new role, but you’re not sure it’s a good fit?  On the other hand, what if you want to go for a new role, but your current manager is not supportive?

Both are great questions. It’s important to acknowledge that there is risk in both changing positions and staying in the same position. For example, your manager can change. In terms of fit, it is helpful to have as many formal and informal conversations about the new position as you can. It is always easier to withdraw from the process before you get the offer.

A non-supportive manager is a challenge as your new manager will likely look to your current manager for a reference. First, I would suggest trying to better understand the lack of support.  Try to self-assess the situation. Maybe it’s because you play a critical role and your transition would create a void that will be difficult to fill. After self-assessing, consider having a direct conversation with your manager or speaking with someone in HR to get their advice about the best way to proceed.