Do I apply for (nearly) the same job again?
January 21, 2013 3:02 PM   Subscribe

About five weeks ago, I applied for what seemed to be a great job at the university from which I recently graduated. (It's not a teaching/faculty position.) I applied about a week before the deadline and I think I'm a good candidate for it. The website, which is updated daily during the week, says that it has yet to be filled, that the selection is still in progress. However, I just saw a new job posting go up with the same title with a few small differences. I haven't been notified one way or the other as to the first job. How do I navigate applying for the newly-posted job? More specific information inside.

Some details:

They are not the same job, but there are many, many similarities between them, including a lot of overlap in terms of responsibilities and requirements. Some of the key differences include:

Job 1 is a union job with a slightly lower salary range than Job 2.

Job 2 is a contract job that lasts for a couple of years and is probably something I'm slightly better suited for than Job 1, given my past experience.

I'm pretty sure that I want to apply for Job 2, but I'm stuck for two reasons:

1) The contact person is the same as for Job 1. I figure I should probably reference the fact that I've, in fact, applied for Job 1 and would enjoy the opportunity to work for them in either position, but I can't very well say "Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such outstanding job applications as Job 1!"

Nor do I feel that I can comfortably NOT address the fact that it's the same person fielding the applications. It's a person, not a random HR email address, and is the person to whom I should be addressing my cover letter.

I find myself uncharacteristically stuck on how to navigate this, because Job 1 is technically still not filled. Were it filled, I would apply without hesitation, since I could say that I was pleased to see another, similar position open up, giving me another chance to work in X position. But I can't really say that since it's not filled. (I could, but I think it would be clunky, and I'd rather not be clunky in an application/cover letter.)

2) Since they haven't gotten back to me for even an interview for Job 1, I feel a little awkward applying for what is almost the same job. Does their lack of contact mean they're not interested in me for Job 1 and, thus, they will not be interested in me for the very similar Job 2? This is also holding me back, although less so compared to the first issue I raised. However, the lack of interest on their part is somewhat demoralizing and probably adding to my general feeling of being stuck.

So what I'm looking for are some suggestions to help address the situation about my interest in Job 1 vs. Job 2, plus acknowledgement that it's the same person receiving both applications.

Please do share any similar situations that you might have encountered. I'd be really interested to see how people would or have handled this type of situation. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Typical staff hiring bureaucracy in a university could mean the hiring manager has no idea you've applied for Job 1 for reasons that include screening by HR and tiering of applicants by internal/external status. To someone interested in working for the institution long term, Job 1 would likely be more attractive since it is an ongoing position while Job 2's hire could be a definite term with no possibility of renewal. In addition, unions or strong equivalents for staff are typical in North American higher ed because of protections they provide.

Unless you have heard directly from someone involved in selecting and hiring these positions, apply to Job 2 without mentioning your having applied to Job 1.
posted by thatdawnperson at 3:15 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just go ahead and apply for the newly-posted job the same as any other and pretend Job 1 isn't even in the equation. If they consider you a worthy enough candidate for either position, you will hear from them. I can't see why applying for both would hurt your application in any way.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:18 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I work at a state university. Last summer my manager asked me to chair a hiring committee for a position in my department. I can tell you a little of what it's like to be on the other side of things, but keep in mind that the rules/policies for my university might be drastically different from the rules for the one you're applying to.

1) Job applications are difficult and time consuming to write and have to be vetted by the HR and Equal Opportunity departments. What happens is people tend to take a similar job description that's already been approved and modify it. I'd guess that's why they look similar, but they might be in completely different departments/focus.

2) There are a small number of people in our HR who handle the intake for all applications. So even though you're sending an application for two jobs to the same person, they might have different Hiring Managers, Hiring Committees, and be in different departments.

3) It took my committee a full month after the search close date to process all the applications and offer interviews. Why? We had to meet and discuss every application, evaluate it against a rubric of job qualifications, and then debate what our minimum standard would be for an interview. Everyone would be notified of what our decision was, but no one was notified until we'd reviewed every application.

4) At no point in the entire process could I consider things that we're in the job description. So even if I knew you were applying to 20 jobs on campus, that's irrelevant to whether I'm offering you an interview or whether my committee would offer you the position.

One thing I'd note, and this might just be where I work, but Civil Service positions (union) go through an entirely different process. What I've described above is only for salaried positions. Civil service people have to first pass the civil service exam (given several times a year). When a department needs one of those positions filled the union selects 3 candidates for us based on an internal ranking system. But if you're not already in the civil service system, you won't get the job.
posted by sbutler at 3:35 PM on January 21, 2013

The TL;DR version of my comment: apply to both jobs; don't feel bad if it takes awhile to hear back; I doubt it will hurt your chances.
posted by sbutler at 3:38 PM on January 21, 2013

Apply to both.

I used to be a graduate assistant in a university department and I was the contact person for all job applicants up until an offer was extended - I had no official input in whether or not someone was interviewed, hired, rejected, etc. I sorted through resumes, coordinated the hiring committees, scheduled interviews, etc, and most of the people on the committees barely had enough time to scan through their stack of resumes and come to the interviews.

Also the actual hiring manager was not even on the interview committee at my university - you might meet him/her at the second interview, but this person was not allowed to be on the first round committees.

The process took a long time because of back and forth between the department and campus HR and EEO stuff. My department had to follow any required qualifications in the job description to the T and go through each application to decide which to interview.
posted by fromageball at 5:19 PM on January 21, 2013

My limited experience with university hiring is that they need you to apply for the specific position for which they are hiring, regardless of whether they end up filling both Job 1 and Job 2. So yes, you should go ahead and apply. In your cover letter, I think you could go either way -- I think it would be fine to mention that you also applied to Job 1, but I don't think it would be weird to leave it out. Also, don't be demoralized about the lack of contact -- first of all, jobs are hard to come by, but also, a lot of universities move slow and what seems like an eternity for you may be normal for them.
posted by chickenmagazine at 5:58 PM on January 21, 2013

Absolutely apply to both.

I've spent most of my career at companies where people desperately wanted to get a job (any job). It's standard for people to apply multiple times. In fact, if you get interviews for both jobs, you should interview with both hiring managers. Until you're hired, you should be looking out for the best possible fit.

There's no shame or problem with multiple applications to the same company or institution. None at all.
posted by 26.2 at 6:19 PM on January 21, 2013

In all likelihood, the contact name is a fictitious one. Applicants want to send the cover letter to an actual person. There's no upside to the HR person putting there real name out there and there's a lot of downside. I wouldn't sweat that the names are the same.

I also wouldn't sweat the lack of contact on Job 1. It could mean:

1 - the job lost funding
2 - they've made an offer internally and won't update the system until the offer is accepted
3 - the hiring manager is on vacation
4 - the HR rep is on vacation
5 - someone on the hiring committee is on vacation
6 - HR is busy getting managers to do year end reviews
7 - they got a ton of resumes
8 - they got very few resumes and are waiting for a larger pool
100,001 - they don't like you and wouldn't consider you few any position

Don't over think this and rob yourself of a job might enjoy. Apply.
posted by 26.2 at 6:29 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

yes. definitely apply to both.
26.2 has some good possibilities. Another, which I've seen happen more than once is that the first description was written and then someone internal decided it should be changed, for example to make it a non-unionized position. At this point, the HR department decided that they couldn't modify the existing posting, so they created a new one (and presumably forgot to close the first one).
posted by chbrooks at 10:01 PM on January 21, 2013

Apply to as many jobs as you would like to be considered for.

Don't bother introducing yourself as a previous applicant unless there's a question about "have you applied to any other posts with us in the last $timeperiod?".

Applying is a million miles away from getting invited for interview, which is a million miles away from getting hired. You need to apply for as many suitable posts as you can, as fast as you can.
posted by tel3path at 3:06 AM on January 22, 2013

Apply for the second job and don't worry about it. It's not uncommon for a person to apply to every possible position they feel qualified for.
posted by Doohickie at 9:11 AM on January 22, 2013

Apply for job #2. Address it in the cover letter this way:

I believe that my skills and qualifications would be a good fit for either position, and I'd appreciate an opportunity to speak with you about both postions.

That's it. You're expected to apply to every job you're qualified for, it's your God-given right!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:23 AM on January 22, 2013

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