Can I apply for a job that reports to a job I applied for in the past without looking like an ass?
November 1, 2011 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Applied for job last month, didn't get it. Now another job from same company has been posted - a position that would be reporting to the higher-up position I applied for last month. Is it completely weird to throw my hat in the ring again? Snowflakiness inside.

Hi everyone. You may remember me from this question last week: (forgive me if link fails; I am typing this on my phone). This question only peripherally relates to my earlier one.

Last month I applied to an awesome dream job. It was admittedly a bit of a reach given the fact that I only have 5 years' work experience (since graduating from college), but the job description matched my previous experience and skills very well so I figured why the hell not? Let's see what happens.

I've since learned through the grapevine that as of last week that dream position has been filled by someone who has about 9 years' relevant work experience. Fair enough, makes sense, it was a crapshoot anyway.

Today the company posted a job for a position that would report to the fellow who now holds the position I applied for last month..i.e, that position is Manager of XYZ Department, and this newly posted position is Assistant Manager of XYZ Department. Being the Assistant Manager of XYZ Department is a far more appropriate fit for me given my aforementioned level of relevant work experience, and had I known that once the Manager position had been filled that they would be looking for an Assistant Manager, I would have held off on applying for the Manager position. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

Given the fact that this Assistant Manager position is still essentially my dream job, is it completely asinine to send my resume to this company again? If it is worth giving it a shot, what do I do w/r/t a cover letter? The job description for the Assistant Manager position is word-for-word the same as the job description for the Manager position, except for who it reports to (reporting to Manager as opposed to CFO) and lower salary range. This makes it hard for me to figure out how I should craft my cover letter were I to apply - the skills I have that make me a good fit for the Assistant Manager job are the same as those that made me qualified for the Manager job, so I'm not going to retouch my resume...but I think it would look really bad/lazy to just recycle that cover letter from last month (which was a pretty good cover letter according to friends who have been hiring managers) and change the job wtf do I do there?

Any suggestions would be very helpful and much appreciated.

(And again, I know that replying to job descriptions posted on the internets is a crapshoot generally and most jobs are obtained by networking, but this particular job type within this particular company is something I would regret not at least making a try of it. That being said, I landed my current job via an internet job posting, so I know firsthand that sometimes it does happen that way and am trying to be cautiously optimistic.)

Thanks in advance and sorry for the Tl;dr.
posted by thereemix to Work & Money (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It is absolutely not a problem for you to apply again. The worst that can happen is they say no and then you will never have any contact with them again, which is pretty much what will happen if you don't apply. On the other hand the worst might not happen and they might offer you an interview. Apply now!
posted by biffa at 9:44 AM on November 1, 2011 [6 favorites]

Of course you should apply. In fact, I'd think that your cover letter might even make mention of the fact that you think this is actually an even better fit for you than the one you interviewed for.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:45 AM on November 1, 2011 [6 favorites]

I used to look through resumes as a part of my job. The chances that I would be able to recognize the fact that a resume or cover letter submitted this week for Job X was identical to one submitted last week for Job Y was minimal, even if I recognized the name. The fact that it fit spec was a lot more important than just about anything else, considering I usually had a stack of these things to get through. Never mind the fact that I wasn't about to start digging up old cover letters to see if someone was being "lazy" with them.
posted by griphus at 9:47 AM on November 1, 2011

Of course you should apply for the new job. You could have been one of a hundred people that applied for the last position; they could have looked at your experience and summarily dismissed you. That may not have looked at you at all if there were 10 other well-qualified applicants that they came across first. Also, the new manager may be the person reviewing resumes this time. I would re-use the old cover letter with the new job title and see if there are other minor edits to make it fresh. But I don't think people really have the time or inclination to compare old and new cover letters.
posted by shoesietart at 9:49 AM on November 1, 2011

Apply! As for the cover letter, keep many of the same points. The skills you could bring haven't changed, just focus on the fact that you would be new to the organization and the Assistant position would allow you to learn and develop a career in the future while bringing your awesome skills to the job.

It doesn't sound like you interviewed, which means the odds of someone remembering a cover letter is pretty low. Tweak it to fit the new position and go for it. Good luck!
posted by GilvearSt at 9:50 AM on November 1, 2011

You should definitely apply!

And as for your cover letter: It depends on whether or not you were granted an interview.

If you were interviewed, you should by all means write something to the effect of: During an interview for a different position within the department, I spoke with [name] about the advantages of signing on with [company]. I was so impressed by what s/he had to say, and by your record of achievement [or w/e], that I decided I definitely want work with you. As it happens, my qualifications are a direct match for this position... etc.

If you weren't given an interview, you can still mention that you're eager to work on this project/with this company, and that you've been keeping an eye on opportunities here, having applied once before,etc. Or you could easily omit it, because if you weren't interviewed, chances are slim that they'll remember your particulars. But you should still submit a new cover letter, because if they have your old one on file you may be docked points for not creating a letter specific to the posting.
posted by emilycardigan at 9:55 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Apply. And consider that one of the primary decision makers on who to hire will probably be the new manager who wasn't even around to consider you the first time.
posted by true at 9:56 AM on November 1, 2011

I didn't read all the details, just skipped down to pose the question: What have you got to lose? Of course you should apply.
posted by Miko at 9:58 AM on November 1, 2011

It is extremely common for people to apply for a variety of positions in my organization at different levels and no one thinks twice about seeing it, if indeed they even notice that it is the same person.
posted by Lame_username at 10:01 AM on November 1, 2011

Given the level of interest any position has in the current economic climate, the fact that you got an interview meant that they really like you. They chose someone else because if they can get someone with 9 years experience for $amount, they're going to have a hard time justifying to their superiors why they went for someone with 5 years experience for $amount.

Are you going to have some kind of burning resentment towards the person who got the job you originally applied for? If not, you have zero reason not to apply again, and EVERY reason to throw that hat right back in the ring where it belongs.
posted by fearnothing at 10:01 AM on November 1, 2011

ok, misread, don't actually know if you got the interview. My point stands though, if experience level is the major seperator between you and the successful candidate, then you should absolutely apply for the assistant position.
posted by fearnothing at 10:04 AM on November 1, 2011

If someone applied for several different, but related, positions at my company, I would take that as a sign that they really like my company and really want to be a part of it. If the positions were totally different though, I would figure they are using the scatter shot method of job hunting and not be impressed.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:21 AM on November 1, 2011

There is an opportunity cost to spending x-amount of hours preparing responses to job postings. It's pretty unlikely you'll get a job at this company - you have lots of competition, and they've already turned you down once.

The best way to get a dream job is to find the dream job before it gets posted. You do this by networking, networking, networking.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:26 AM on November 1, 2011

The position I currently hold I got after applying and not getting an interview, and then reapplying for it when it was readvertised and getting straight through. I got this at the same level, never mind a rung down. Going a rung down gives a very decent chance. When the HR person goes through the essential qualities there is much more chance of ticking more boxes and of qualifying for interview and the competition is not likely to be as good. Apply.
posted by biffa at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2011

Why would anyone think less of you for this? I suppose, if you stretch, someone might have misgivings that you really feel like you deserved the other job and this is a consolation prize or you'll think you're just biding your time till you get that one.

But that level of jerk is something you sort out in an interview. I have been reading resumes in order to provide feedback and/or make hiring decisions for going on 15 years now. I wouldn't be bothered by the situation you describe one bit.

If you're concerned about it then acknowledge it in your cover letter. "Hey, I knew that one was a hint of a stretch but I was excited by the idea of being at XYZ corporation and I think I have something to contribute. The opportunity to come in at this level, appropriate to my experience level, and learn from someone who's got more experience is very exciting." Say exactly what you said to us about how you'da waited.

Confidence without arrogance is a trait I'm thrilled to find in prospective employees. Don't feel like you need to hide it.
posted by phearlez at 11:06 AM on November 1, 2011

Last month I applied to an awesome dream job. It was admittedly a bit of a reach given the fact that I only have 5 years' work experience (since graduating from college), but the job description matched my previous experience and skills very well so I figured why the hell not? Let's see what happens.

Hell yes! You walk in, and when they ask you why you're there, you tell 'em this: you considered their previously-open position a dream job, and applied for it despite not having quite enough experience, because it never hurts to try. Now you are here because this position reports to your dream position, and thus will give you the perfect opportunity to learn the relevant experience to enable your dream job in the future. It is, I think, the ideal incoming-employee scenario: someone who is there for a good reason, and fully intends to stick around and move up in the company.
posted by davejay at 11:40 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I once was on the other side of this situation. I got the senior position and one of my first tasks was to hire some additional staff. I contacted the person who didn't get the senior position and he was interested in the "lower" position and didn't find it awkward to report to me. Go for it.
posted by dgran at 1:36 PM on November 1, 2011

Of course you should apply. As stated, if you were granted an interview for the manager position, state in your cover letter that you feel that the assistant manager is a more suitable fit for your experience level and were thrilled to learn of the opening and another opportunity.

And if you know the name of the gentleman who got the manager position, mail a copy of your cover letter and resume to him as well!

Never be afraid to go for what you want.
posted by Kitty Cornered at 8:57 PM on November 1, 2011

Hi again everyone - you guys are so awesome. Thank you all for your input and encouragement. I am tempted to mark eveyone's answer as best. :)

So I sent my resume and slightly modified cover letter through this morning, and now I have one more follow up question (for anyone who is still reading): the job posting only specifies a fax # to send application materials to. I am generally suspicious of the reliability of faxed communications, but I doknow their fax machine works because when I applied for the higher position I followed up a week later with a phone call and got confirmation that they had received my information. So I faxed again this morning, but now I have this niggling feeling (especially after Kitty Cornered's suggestion) that maybe I should send the resume/cover letter via email as well, just in case? (Like, my paranoid mind is wondering stupid shit like what if their fax machine is low on toner and they can't read any of what I sent?) Through some LinkedIn-fu I do have the email contact info for both the HR director AND the fellow who took the higher position. I know these things are always challenging because one wants to make sure they are noticed BUT one also doesn't want to come across as obnoxious, and whether or not the additional email would annoy the people in question is hard to predict. The job posting did not say FAX ONLY or "do not email/call", but the ommission of email contact info makes me reluctant to email and maybe ding my chances for being overkill.

Thoughts? Email resume/cover letter to HR director and/or newly appointed Manager in addition to my fax this morning or not?

And thanks again, everyone.
posted by thereemix at 8:01 AM on November 2, 2011

I think you can confirm w/o being obnoxious about it but I wouldn't send the documents again. They want it in physical form via faxes (for whatever bizzare reason) so don't second guess that.

But you can certainly call or email and politely say you just want to confirm they received your information; your fax machine doesn't give great confirmation that the fax has been received, only that it tried to send it, could they confirm whether you need to resend?
posted by phearlez at 8:50 AM on November 2, 2011

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