Today’s job market puts ever-increasing demands on job seekers. You can spend hours searching job boards and using your professional network looking for open positions that both match your career goals and that you are qualified to fill. When you find a career page with multiple openings your first instinct is to apply to all of them but this can actually hurt your chances of getting an interview.
Established candidates looking for their next career advancement should only apply for one job posting well matched to their goals. Candidates applying for mid-level roles can safely apply to 2-3 positions while entry-level candidates can apply to 4 or more open job postings.
You should always determine that you satisfy the most important qualifications and requirements before you apply for any position. Prioritize the positions where you will be a strong candidate based on your skills and experience. Too many applications and the hiring team will view you as a desperate ‘spray and pray‘ candidate.
How To Apply for Different Roles at the Same Company
To be most successful, use the strategy where you apply to the most promising jobs first. Initially, only apply to positions where you will be a standout candidate. Your primary objective is to start a conversation with the company and to do that they need to be interested in you as a candidate.
When You Should Stagger Your Applications
If you are like most candidates with 5+ years of experience in your field, this means you should only be applying to one position. Once you have the initial contact from the recruiter you can bring up your interest in other positions during the conversation. Managing your image as a focused job seeker is key to opening the door to other possibilities.
After a week to ten days, if you haven’t received a response from the employer then revisit their career page and submit a second round of applications. For senior-level candidates this will again be a single application. For mid-level candidates the second round may expand to two positions.
When You Should Apply To Multiple Roles at the Same Time
There are situations where it is appropriate to apply to several positions at the same time with the same company. Still prioritize the best positions where you are the strongest candidate and limit yourself to a reasonable number to avoid being labeled a nuisance candidate. No more than three or four applications in a two-week period is a good rule of thumb.
When you see job postings that are very similar to one another. Similar job posting at the same company usually results from analogous roles that are present in multiple departments. For example, the Whirlpool factory may have separate assembly lines for their washers and dryers with separate postings for assembly technicians but the job descriptions could be very similar.
When you encounter this situation you should apply to each job posting that is well matched to your qualifications and career interests. Established companies have consolidated their recruiting process and combine them into a single candidate pool, but smaller companies frequently rely on each department to make their own hiring decisions.
When you know the positions are in different departments. When you know for certain the postings are for two different departments, with different hiring managers, you can increase the number of applications you submit. This may be impossible for external candidates to know unless the job description lists it explicitly. Leverage your professional network – reach out to any connections you have at the company for insight.
All of the main operations departments will have shift supervisors for their crews so it is common to have more than one posting at a time. As an experienced supervisor, you know how to manage people in different technical roles and are delivering a consistent message to the employer – you want to join the company in a leadership position.
Expert Tip: Employers know that referred candidates generate higher quality hires – significantly better when the employee and candidate know each other well. For this reason, many companies offer referral bonuses to encourage their staff to help recruit talent. Talk to your connection before you apply and ask them to refer you to the hiring manager.
When you are applying for entry-level and less-skilled positions. When you are looking for a McJob and not a career you can apply to several postings at once if you are qualified. Most companies have combined these into a single Crew Member title because job responsibilities are assigned each shift depending on the members present and their training/experience levels.
Expert Tip: One important fact to know is that each location typically owns its own hiring. The process can be different depending on if that store is a franchise location or company-owned. If you are not certain, check each location for openings and apply.
Recruiter vs Headhunter – What Is the Difference?
Although sometimes used interchangeably, a recruiter is usually an employee of the company with the open job postings. Also known as an internal recruiter, they are a member of the HR or staffing team that brings in new talent for the company.
A headhunter, also known as an external recruiter, is a third-party individual or organization that works to place candidates in a role in exchange for a commission. Some companies enter into contractual agreements with external staffing firms to outsource hiring for certain difficult-to-fill positions or temp-to-hire arrangements.
Why Is It Bad To Apply To Multiple Positions at the Same Company?
The downside to applying to multiple positions at the same time at the same company is that when done poorly it sends the message that you are a disorganized, desperate candidate. Applying for many different positions sends the message that you are desperate for any option.
Desperation is not a good look on the dating scene and it doesn’t play well when looking for a job either. Every employer wants to believe they are the top choice for candidates, not that they are the least bad option.
Spray and Pray: Sending your resume anywhere and everywhere in the hope that one will land and get you an interview.
Hiring teams dislike candidates who practice ‘spray and pray’ because they apply for positions they are not qualified to fill and become a waste of time. Once an individual is identified as a nuisance their applications can be filtered out in the ATS so the hiring team never sees them again.
How To Communicate That You Are Interested in Multiple Positions
Your first priority is always to give yourself the best chance of getting a callback by applying to the one position that you think is the best fit and you will be a standout candidate. After you are in communication with the company you have opportunities to express your interest in other open positions.
Discuss Your Interest in Other Positions During Your First Phone Call With the Recruiter
The best way to let an employer know that you are interested in multiple positions is to apply to the position that you think is the best fit and you are a standout candidate.
Always let the recruiter know that you applied to your first-choice position. After all, that is the position that they contacted you to discuss and recruiters are busy people, you don’t want them to think they are wasting their time.
During your initial phone call, the recruiter will normally provide a more in-depth description of the job responsibilities and current challenges and then ask you for questions. After asking a number of questions about the current job you can also ask the recruiter if they are responsible for the other positions.
When your recruiter also the other openings then you can mention that you are open to those jobs as well. Recruiters know where they are in the hiring process for each position as well as where the business priority exists.
When discussing other positions, be sure to listen with an open mind when they make suggestions or float possibilities to you. Ask exploratory questions to understand the situation but seriously consider their input, they are working to find a path that works for both sides.
When your recruiter does not own the other positions your path will be determined by how they respond. If they seem put off by the question then immediately reaffirm that your main interest is with the current opening and drop the subject. If the question didn’t appear to bother the recruiter then proceed and get their input on the other job postings and if they would forward your resume to the appropriate person.
Discuss Your Interest in Other Positions After You’ve Been Rejected From Your First Choice Position
When you make it all the way to the interview stage and then get rejected it stings, but the reality of the hiring process is that managers can only fill each req with one person. Only one candidate will be the best candidate and get the offer, the second and third strongest candidates can also be excellent but still get rejected.
The best candidates are experts at reframing and look for ways to change even this challenge into an opportunity. Strong candidates are uncommon and good leaders don’t want them to slip away.
When you represent yourself well during the interview process the hiring team will want to find you a home within the company. Experienced recruiters will even start the process themselves, but as a candidate you should look for other open positions and ask directly if you can be considered.
Can You Apply To the Same Company After Being Rejected?
You can always apply to another job posting but your chances of success vary greatly on why you were rejected and where you were at in the screening process.
Rejected After Submitting Your Application
When you are rejected at the initial application review and don’t receive a callback then its impossible to know the reason why with any certainty, but here are the most common reasons:
- Your application didn’t stand out as a strong candidate.
- The hiring team already has someone in mind.
- Your application wasn’t seen by a human because it didn’t get past the ATS system.
Expert Tip: Job applications have many fields that seem to duplicate the information on your resume but they are not the same. Avoid mistakes that get your application discarded Why Job Applications Make You Re-Enter Resume Information.
Apply for positions where you are highly-qualified. Applying for jobs that don’t fit your background and qualifications is usually a waste of time. During a difficult job market, hiring managers are not as willing to take on project hires that need significant training or coaching before they can contribute. Managers want plug and play employees that can make an immediate impact.
Expert Tip: A lateral move or even a step down from your current role may be the right move in the long term if the new position offers more career growth and upward mobility. When you are unemployed keep an open mind and stay positive in your job search.
Get past the resume robots. You need to verify that your resume is readable by the ATS system using a resume ATS checker – we recommend this free tool by Jobscan that will help you optimize your resume and LinkedIn profile against the job description.
Rejected After Your Phone Screen
When you don’t proceed beyond the phone screen you have more insight into the reasons why because you were involved. Even if it could be improved your resume is not to blame because it did its job. The sole purpose of your resume is to generate enough interest in you as a candidate for the employer to give you a callback.
The main purpose of the phone screen is for the recruiter to verify the basic qualifications that they see on your application and resume. When candidates get rejected at the phone screen it is usually because they either weren’t able to substantiate something on their resume or they didn’t show enough interest in the position.
Expert Tip: Candidates hate the question because it’s a common stumbling block during the phone screen. Be ready to answer Why Do You Want To Work Here? before you submit your application and avoid the common mistakes.
Reflect on the phone screen and genuinely evaluate your answers. Did you portray yourself as an Excel expert and then flub a question about the VLOOKUP function? Did the questions center around a particular skill set that would be critical in the new role? Were your pay expectations within the compensation range for the job title?
When nothing stands out as an obvious reason why you were eliminated you are still a viable candidate for other positions. Continue to apply to postings when you meet the qualification requirements. Expect there will be a cooling-off period where you won’t get a callback from the same recruiter for a month or so.
Rejected After Your Interview
We covered how the period after you’ve been rejected from your first choice position is a good opportunity to express interest in another opening, but there won’t always be another position available. When you make a good impression the hiring team will remember.
Reach out to the interview team and leverage their connection when you find another position that fits your career goals. Either your recruiter or your hiring manager is going to be your best ally in the process. Good leaders want to help others succeed, even if it is months later or it means they are delivering results on someone else’s team.
Expert Tip: You should always be professional and courteous to everyone you encounter during the hiring process, but none more so than your recruiter. Recruiters can be a strong advocate for candidates with the hiring manager and normally have decision authority to eliminate candidates that demonstrate poor character by being rude, disrespectful, or unnecessarily difficult.
Recruiters are the hub for candidate hiring from start to finish, frequently staying with the candidate all the way through and greeting them on their first day of work. Collaborate with them during the hiring process and remember they are not your opposition, the recruiter’s goals are aligned with yours – filling the position with a highly qualified candidate.