I am a man who drives the local bus
August 10, 2010 6:32 AM   Subscribe

How do I apply for a job that I already have, knowing that I will most likely not get it job? Details inside.

In January of this year, I began an internship that then turned into a part time paid position. For the first six months, I just showed up and didn't get paid, but as of the beginning of July, one of my colleagues is out on maternity leave, and I will be working in her position for 28 hours a week (essentially, four days a week) until the end of the year when my colleague returns.

Today, when I came to work, my immediate supervisor said "Oh, I thought you should know that HR has posted [what amounts to the full-time version of your position] on our company's website, and I encourage you to apply for it, but I'm pretty sure that HR is going to make me hire for diversity." Essentially, she means they're going to force her to make an affirmative action hire as opposed to hiring me (white male).

So I'm in an unbelievably strange position - applying for a job that I already have, and being told that I won't get it.


1.) Is there any benefit of going through the motions here? I suppose it's always possible they'll hire me, but it seems exceedingly unlikely.

2.) If I do decide to apply for this position, how do I write the cover letter? I can't just say "I am ideal for this position because I already have this position," but when I try to write the cover letter in my head it's not coalescing. This cover letter will be for both my immediate supervisor who I have a good relationship with, and HR, who I have absolutely zero relationship with. Like, I've never met or spoken to them.

3.) I should mention that this is basically the position I've always wanted. Assuming this job is filled for diversity, it will be done before my tenure as a part timer has wrapped and I will be forced to work with someone who it will be hard not to resent. Any suggestions as to how I can keep things positive in this environment?

questions? email me at givemethejobialreadyhave@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I actually just had to go through this song and dance last week. They 'improved' my position, but due to state law had to open the position to the public. Which meant I had to reapply for the position I already have.

1) Yes, because then your boss can try and make an impassioned plea on your behalf.

2) Focus the cover letter towards the fact that you've already been working for the company. You know what's expected of you and how things work. Totally push the fact that they'd have to train someone new over someone who knows the ropes. Say you get along with your co-workers. Ask your boss what else you could put in the cover letter.
posted by royalsong at 6:47 AM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yes, go through the motions. It's a small enough effort to make for a potentially very large reward - makes more sense than buying a lottery ticket.

The point to make in your application is not so much that you already have this job, but that you have it and are doing a good job at it. The fact that your supervisor encouraged you to apply for the job means that she is happy with your work. You are a valuable employee.

In the event that someone else is hired there is no reason to resent that person. People do not apply for jobs for the purpose of depriving someone else of the job; this was not in any sense an attack on you personally. Even if people are hired solely because they fit some hiring quota scheme for their particular ethnicity, they may still be well qualified for the job and may do a good job, and they deserve the same respect that you would give to anyone who is working, and trying to make a positive contribution to the society in which we live. And the whole affirmative action situation was not created by anyone you are going to be involved with, it is a large political issue that is beyond the control of most people.
posted by grizzled at 6:48 AM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

If your supervisor encouraged you to apply, it's most definitely worth it to apply. If there was honestly no chance that you'd get the job, you wouldn't have been encouraged to apply at all.

I would make the fact that you currently work in this position the focus of your cover letter. Make sure to detail your successes while in the position, the fact that you enjoy what you're doing, and the fact that you've been encouraged to apply.

Don't take it personally if you don't get the job. Even if there isn't a quota to fill, internal vs. external job seeking is always a minefield of bad feelings. The important thing is to go for what you want.
posted by xingcat at 6:56 AM on August 10, 2010

Yes, there's a benefit to going through the motions - that being, you may get the job. You really can't gauge whether it's likely or not. There's the added benefit of letting your company know that yes, you really do want this job. And if they seem to like you, they may consider you for another position, or, if their new hire doesn't work out, for the very position you want.

You have nothing to lose. It would be a mistake not to apply.

I think that the cover letter should come from the point of view of, "here's what I've learned and done so far, and here's why I want to continue in this position." If I were applying for my job today, I'd say something like, "In the x months I've been working for ABC Inc., I've developed my project management skills through my work leading the Foo Project. Since I took that project over, we've hit every deadline and encountered only one bug - a xx% improvement over the six months prior to my leadership. I look forward to continuing my work on Foo Project, and blah blah blah blah HIRE ME." I'd also say something about liking the corporate culture.

Re: part 3, that sucks, but you can't blame the new hire for management's decision. It is not their fault. Also, letting your resentment show will probably be off-putting to management (they'll know, trust me) and, if I were your boss, would kill any likelihood that had existed of me hiring you.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:58 AM on August 10, 2010

1. Your supervisor is probably trying to cushion the blow in case you don't get it, but s/he has an unbelievably lame way of going about it. Hiring sucks, specially when you already have a capable person in the position. That your employer is recruiting even with you already there suggests that it's possible that s/he is looking for somebody better/more experience/more qualified than you, not just someone with a different skin color. Although your employer may be trying to boost diversity, it also wants to hire the most qualified person for this specific job. That may just turn out to be you. So, yes, apply for the job. It's the only way to get it, even if there are no guarantees.

2. "Dear supervisor,

"Please consider my application for Job Title. Over the past X months, I've been..." Write about you've accomplished in this job, using language that mirrors the job ad. Also write about your job-specific skills in language that mirrors the ad.

Now that you're in the second paragraph, write about the abilities and ideas you possess that will allow you to take the job to a higher level. Companies hire to meet an immediate need, but they also want someone who will benefit the organization over the long-run in multiple capacities.

"As you can see, in my X months with this organization I've grown a great deal already. I love working here, and look forward to the prospect of contributing to The Company for many years to come.



3. Cross that bridge when you come to it. Only a very badly run affirmative action program is going to hire somebody inferior to you. (Though bad affirmative action programs do exist, of course.) More likely, the company is seeking someone at least as capable as you, but is recruiting from a pool of diverse applicants. Would you feel differently if you didn't get the job, but it was another white man who got it in your place? If so, I think you need to do some serious self reflection and then maybe read a few books or articles on how affirmative action really works.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:03 AM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Assuming this job is filled for diversity, it will be done before my tenure as a part timer has wrapped and I will be forced to work with someone who it will be hard not to resent. Any suggestions as to how I can keep things positive in this environment?

By not allowing yourself to think of whoever's hired as a "diversity hire," as opposed to someone more qualified than you are, I'd imagine.
posted by liketitanic at 7:30 AM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

If they don't hire you try to think of the person they do hire as a valuable colleague in your field, someone who might have connections useful to you, someone who might write a stellar letter of recommendation for you.
posted by mareli at 7:36 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

One thing to keep in mind is that affirmative action doesn't just mean putting people on the payroll for the sake of their skin colour. The company still has to make a profit, and they can't do that with dead weight. There are tremendously qualified people in all fields of all races. If they hire somebody other than you for the job it means that they think that person is going to do the job as well as you would, else they would have hired you and found somewhere else to fill the quota.
posted by 256 at 9:08 AM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Or, to continue, a thought experiment. Imagine the opposite--that you're a well-qualified "diversity hire" who's replaced, instead, by a white person, who you believe was hired preferentially because of his or her race. Which happens pretty often. And then maybe you can stop making "diversity hire" judgments more easily and just assume that if someone else gets hired, they are equally qualified than you are, if not moreso.
posted by liketitanic at 10:05 AM on August 10, 2010

What an incredibly unprofessional thing your manager did. Wow. I just came in to say that for what it is worth, I have been involved in a lot of diversity hiring and it never results in hiring unqualified people. It does however sometimes allow for headcount to be found where there was none, or headcount to be moved from a low cost region office to a high cost region. It may well be the case for this position but if you can make a very strong case for yourself you could potentially get around such restrictions, and that is why you manager wants you to try.
posted by ch1x0r at 10:39 AM on August 10, 2010

Your manager doesn't understand what a diversity program is.
posted by anildash at 12:48 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

You inherently have an advantage in applying for a job you're already doing, because you know how to do the job. (I've done this.) Re-emphasize this over and over again in the paperwork and in the job interview. You'll save them money and time in training, at least by now.

I suspect that unless the "diversity hires" have better credentials than you, OR the primary priority of HR is to hire someone who isn't a white guy no matter what, you probably have a pretty good shot on the knowledge factor alone.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:56 PM on August 10, 2010

Apply. If you don't apply, it will look like you don't really want to keep working there to both your supervisor and HR.

Solicit your supervisor's feedback on your draft cover letter and resume.

Don't assume that your supervisor is correct about them making a "diversity hire." Your supervisor might just be overly cynical about those issues.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:28 PM on August 10, 2010

I am inclined to believe that if they are going to the trouble of hiring someone new, regardless of the diversity program, that person is going to be equally or more qualified than you are. It makes sense if they are going through all the effort of hiring/ training a newbie.
posted by Everydayville at 3:26 PM on August 13, 2010

« Older FWB Filter: Does it Work?   |   Should I give him another chance? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.