Any harm in applying to two or three different positions in the same company at the same time?

jhack's picture

You should assume that your applications will become known.  

Can you answer the question:  "What do you want to do for the next step of your career?" the same in all three interviews?  

How close to entry level are the positions?   If you're just trying to get your foot in the door, it's probably OK to apply for mailroom and dishwasher.

How close are the positions (in terms of role and responsibilities)?    If you're a senior programmer, and there are three programming jobs open, that's probably OK.   If you're applying for Marketing manager, Sales director, and to Operations researcher, that will raise eyebrows. 

Is there a way to find out which of the three is a best fit for your skills before formally applying?  

John Hack

madmatt's picture

Sure, there are descriptions of the positions online.

I have skills in training, performance improvement coaching, and org systems analysis. 

There is one position, "Business Systems Analyst" that fits my skills except training.

The other position "Trainer" fits my skills except organizational systems analysis.

They are not very different positions--both focused on performance improvement. Just that one is in a problem-solver role, the other is as a trainer. 


BJ_Marshall's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I see where each one fits into your skill set, and that's great. Options are good. Which position fits best with your answer to the "What Do You Want to Do" question? If each position fits into your long-term career plans, then go for it.

Remember to prepare for the best: If you get an offer from your "second choice," the don't string them along waiting for Number One to give you an offer. Don't play that game; the house usually wins.

Best of luck in your applications and interviews!

- BJ

madmatt's picture

 Thanks John and BJ. I don't want to play games with them. I just want an interview!

With the online systems and volume of resumes companies are getting for positions, candidates are not being notified if their applications are not considered. Leaves us to apply and blindly wait for a bite. 



wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge

With the online systems and volume of resumes companies are getting for positions, candidates are not being notified if their applications are not considered. Leaves us to apply and blindly wait for a bite.

If they don't call in two weeks, you can be pretty sure that you're not being considered.

That said, to refer to your earlier question:  Any harm in applying to two or three different positions in the same company at the same time?

There can be.  As with all things, desperation is unattractive.  If it's a large company and there are upwards of 100 jobs, then two is probably ok, especially if you're skills fit well with posting (although as WMarsha1 said, it does beg the question, what DO you want to be when you grow up?)

Our team has around 70 open vacancies in a small geographic area - but the recruiters all sit together.  So, I know exactly what jobs my colleagues are working on, what they are struggling with, the candidates they are talking to and who they like.  In fact, as I've been in the role a while, I've probably recruited for those jobs previously, so I also have a good idea of who will fit.  If a candidate applies for a number of roles, even if they are spread throughout the team, we tend to know about it and draw conclusions about it.  

If the roles are very similar and the candidate is a good fit, it's fine.  At the extreme there are serial applicants who apply for the same role over and over again, and other candidates who will blanket apply for any remotely suitable role in one weekend.  In previous roles I've been known to block certain serial applicants.  So, there can be a significant negative to too many applications.

That said, there is a significant positive for good candidates.  If I interview someone who is great, but not for that role, I will do everything I can to find them something suitable.  I suggest to them to my colleagues when they have suitable roles, I encourage hiring managers to see them and I give good feedback to them and/or their representative to help them be successful.  Even if I only have a resume, I'll suggest that my colleague speaks to the candidate about their interest in other roles.  It may be that if you apply for one role, someone inside the company will suggest that a colleague takes a look at your resume.

I hope the view from the other side of the windowpane helps you make the decision.





stingraycbs's picture

Hi wendii,

i agree with your point; if you have a great interview with a candidate, this can be true, that you try to put him/her into another role. 

Now the reason to apply is to get an interview, so it is an early step. Prior to the interview. The Resumee probably looks different for the two roles and so it is a different application process. So having one interview and hoping to get one of the two roles offered in the company might not be effective though the interview is specifically prepared for the one role. (And I have seen chaotic HR departments who do not make the link between the roles and candidates)

based on that, I would apply for the both roles; a proper reason to give in the interview is usually in "development". This can happen up the ladder or in another direction of competency.

following Mark's comment "interviews are an artificial reality to keep people out" and "a reason to say no" having 2 applications in the same company, and the outcome of it, depend very much on the recruiter. Some might see it as "he doesn't know what he wants" or "she really wants to come to our company"

so we have two options:

reduce the risk : only one application

until you have something you have nothing : apply for every role you want to apply for and where your skills fit with at least 75%

i am very much a D type and willing to take risks, so I apply for both roles.



madmatt's picture

Thanks, Wendii! Your perspective was certainly helpful.

My skills do fit well with both postings. I would have to talk with someone in the company before I could know which position better suits me and what I want to do when I grow up (but I'm open to other posibilites). 

I rather think of myself more as a "go getter" than desparate but I certainly don't want to give the wrong impression. That said these are not the only two positions in the company, so I think I'm safe there. 

I hope all the recruiters at this company sit together so they can all marvel at my awesomely formatted and worded MT resume!

Thanks, everyone! Great community!

bflynn's picture

On the other hand, I've applied to a large company about 50 times before I got an interview.  Bad luck that the job description was inaccurate and the actual job didn't really match what I wanted to do.  Applying a lot isn't necessarily a sign of desperation, it could also mean that you're really, really interested in working for the company.

Frequent applications can skew the company's own view of themselves.  If they think everyone wants to work for them...think Google or Apple...then they get pick and choose  who they take.  You are increasing their measurement of their supply of labor and anything that increases supply will drive down price (your salary).  Good for the company, bad for you.  Or maybe it really is a company that everyone wants to work for.


madmatt's picture

Thanks, Brian. Good points. 

I am encouraged that applying for several related positions that fit my skills is not an issue with this company--they have JOB CART on their recruiting page (taleo-powered). If they only expect you to select one or two items (convience store) they wouldn't have a shopping cart (Walmart). 



Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


I don't agree with your take here, although I don't have all the information you have.  I have a good friend who developed the Taleo stuff, and I don't think the deployment of that software is an indication of a preference in the company for multiple applications.

I know I'm always the bad guy here.  (Sigh).  I think you're wanting to apply to multiple positions, and probably missing Wendii's point that you may be overdoing it.

And, do what you think best.  Unfortunately, you'll never know whether the number of applications reduced each one's validity.


williamelledgepe's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I don't like providing a comment after Mark because I don't think I can add anything to the coversation, but I will attempt anyway.  

BLUF:  Candidates who have applied for multiple positions have fallen into two categories in my experience: 1) scattershot, and 2) sniper rifle.  Scattershots are aimlessly trying to get anything and send a poor message.  Sniper rifles have something specific in their sights and get there anyway they can - sending a positive message.

Here are three different experiences I've had as a hiring manager with candidates who applied for multiple positions.

Scattershot: The recruiters at my company filter through resumes and send me a "shortlist."  The info provided for each candidate on the shortlist includes a list of all other positions that candidate has applied for (within the company of course).  As a hiring manager, I have seen 4 or 5 candidates apply for every open position with the phrase "supervisor" in the title - more than 20 different openings.  (My company has a little over 1000 employees.)  The message I interpreted was, "I want out of my current position" - not a good message.  I didn't even review their resume.  

Sniper 1: Two candidates both applied for the same three openings at my company - all three positions were within one of my four teams.  Sniper 1 included a note saying, "I have a skill set that can be used in a couple different positions.  I will fill any role you believe is the best use of my skill set."  - very different message - a message that puts them 90% of the way on the interview list before I even scan their resume.  

Sniper 2: After applying for the same three positions as Sniper 1, Sniper 2 tracked me down in person at an industry conference and gave me an elevator speech in the lunch line.  This candidate said, "I believe position X is the one that best suits my skill set, but I want to be on your team and will be happy in any of these three positions."  Wow.  We left the lunch hall and had lunch together in a quiet corner of the hallway.  This candidate made it to the interview list before I even reviewed their resume.  

The snipers showed they can network to target specific objectives.  They also showed resourcefulness in linking an open requisition number to my teams (not easy).  The snipers clearly want to work on one of my teams and targeted my openings.  Networking and resourcefulness are both very positive message.  It doesn't mean they were selected, but it got them an interview.