BLUF:  do I aim for the one that's open now or the one I've wanted for nearly 8 years?

Long story told short: I was hired as a peon almost 8 years ago. In Oct 2007, I got promoted to Manager of a team.  In July, 2008, we had a reduction in force but rather than lay me off, they offered me the opportunity to go back to being a peon - which I accepted.  I've been doing the grunt work (which I loathe but at which I excel quite a bit) for 18 mos now and I've applied for a number of managerial positions during that time.

The HR business partner (whom I've known for the entirety of my tenure) indicated that the recruiters don't see / pay attention to what other internal job applications a candidate has submitted in the past; they are looking for a close match to the position based on the application & resume.

There was an incident last week wherein one of the managers on my floor was let go and there will in all likelihood be a posting in the days/weeks to come for her replacement.  The position is similar to the managerial job I previously held in this company, though it would be managing a team which has much higher: stress, client contact, visibility and direct impact to the overall West Division.

When I logged onto the Career board this morning to see if that position had been listed yet (it had not), I saw that another position was listed.  This second position is actually one to which I applied back in August.  I reviewed the position description and my backgroudn with my VP prior to applying and she gave me the "blessing from on-high" saying she thought I was "completely qualified" for it.  The recruiter for that original listing didn't even acknowledge my submission and they gave it to someone else.

The person who landed that role is a "friend" of mine (we just started co-leading the Activities Committee together but before that it was just playful-yet-professional intereactions the last few years.)  I've scheduled some time with him to review the position, get his take on what it was they were looking for, see where or how I could improve my chances of getting my foot in the door for an interview & hopefully an offer.

I'm also meeting with my boss the following day (provided she's back from sick leave) to review and discuss the "let go" position and how I might best position myself for the opportunity if/when it becomes available.  It's a position I interviewed for about a year after I started working at this company and they selected someone else (the person who was just let go.)  Obviously there's not a lot of turnover in the role and I would love the opportunity to work with those folks.

That said, I would do great at either role.  I thrive in a management role - more so than my results as an individual contributor.  My ideal preference would be the opportunity upstairs with the "friend" of mine because the position is much closer to what I did in the past (before coming to this company.)  At the same time, I don't want to look like I'm schizophrenic or desperate to get out of my current (contributor) role and would jump at any opening. 

Your thoughts?

Singers's picture

Hello ;)

First of all, until you have a offer you have nothing, so first things first apply for the job, good training and even if you get the offer and decide to turn it down as you are more interested in the other job, there's nothing lost.

My personal view if you are likely moving into a management position and you feel you can do it will, go for the first IF you get the offer, I have seen to many times where people wait for jobs their either never show or that they do not get. The question you should ask yourself is:
If the 2nd job would go to another candidate and you were sitting back in the old job, could you live with that for a good while?

Kind Regards
Mads Sorensen
Disc 4536

ken_wills's picture

...respectfully, I don't think this is a question that can be answered with "Until you have an offer..."

Ash - in your post (thanks for all the background!), the point that struck me the most was your last sentence:

"At the same time, I don't want to look like I'm schizophrenic or desperate to get out of my current (contributor) role and would jump at any opening."

The damage you fear could be caused simply by applying - so whether you eventually get an offer is not really at the heart of your concern.

Let's look at who might think you look schizophrenic or desperate:

  • Seems like you have this base covered with your manager... and that's the person with whom you'd risk doing the most damage.
  • As for the hiring managers: who's gonna begrudge your desire to return to a management position?  And if they're checking you out, chance are they'll contact your manager, either directly or indirectly.
  • And from what you explain, HR seems to have no institutional memory - so there doesn't seem to be much risk there.

I was gonna say - If you *really* would want either position, apply to both.

Then I got thinking about the interview.

In either interview, if the hiring manager acknowledges that you've applied for two jobs at once, the onus would be on you to be able to say "THIS is the job I really really want."  On reflection, I'm wondering if that's possible - and if you don't have to pick "the one" knowing the risk is that you don't get it, and the other job is no longer available.

Sorry - I know this sounds inconclusive ... and you're such a great contributor to these forums I want to be able to help!

I hope these thoughts are helpful.


Good luck!






ashdenver's picture

 I should have clarified that I was wondering about the application / pursuit to get an offer dilemma.  I know, of course, that I have nothing until I have an offer.  I was trying to decide which one (or both) I should apply for.

Ken's right - the HR group doesn't have any institutional memory at all and I recently learned through the grapevine that they appear to have started outsourcing the recruiters. 

Mads is right too - a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and my VP already hinted that it's possible they won't be replacing the let-go-manager. 

I previously applied for two positions at the same time and was frank about that during the interview process.  Luckily (?) for me at that time, the hiring manager was the same for both positions so it was an easy discussion.  "I've applied for the Team Lead and Manager positions because, as I see it, my goal is to be a Manager again and the Team Lead role tends to be a stepping stone in that direction. I want it to be known that I'm taking my career seriously and I believe I'm completely qualified for either position."  (Ultimately, I got the Manager one.)

In this case, the two positions are in two different divisions entirely so there's no direct connection between them; completely different career paths; uniquely different recruiters/hiring managers.  I believe I have a decent talk-track concerning the pursuit of both divergent positions.  I'll test it out on my boss when we meet tomorrow.

Thanks guys!

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Singers's picture

Ash, looking at the very good point Ken pointed out on your post: "At the same time, I don't want to look like I'm schizophrenic or desperate to get out of my current (contributor) role and would jump at any opening."

Be clear on what you goal is, if you are desperate at getting back into managing people, the hiring manager could just as well turn the question around and ask why you arent applying for the other job in management is what you really want to do. 
I do understand though the "flatter" it can be to use the "This is my dream job card" - But still my view is the extra interview experience, the more people knowing management is what you want, the bigger chance for success. 

Like many questions this is not a black or white decision, but only you will know what you are willing to risk.

Best of Luck ;)

Kind Regards
Mads Sorensen
Disc 4536

asteriskrntt1's picture

I have a cousin who is fairly high up in a major tech company - he won't help me until I get to the final short list and have a legitimate shot at a position, because he thinks he will burn a favour.

Other execs love it when you show initiative, contact them and ask them to meet, then if they like you they happily throw you into the mix.  They see it as part of their job to get the best talent for the company.

I would hope most MT disciples are in the latter group.  And I know M & M say recruiters etc are always looking for a way to clear you out of the system, but really?  For being smart enough to apply to 2 positions?  I bet most people today who go on an interview anywhere have not applied to only one posting.