Applying to different roles at the same company: Yes or No?
During the past few weeks, I’ve seen candidates applying more than once to two or more different roles for the company I’m working at.
Since the roles are different from one another (Sales Rep and Customer Support, for example), this got me wondering: are we really thinking clearly when applying to more than one job opening at the same company? Why do we do this? I don’t think this might be very good for the candidate — but am I the one on the wrong here?
I asked my network about this!
When in doubt, I like to ask my network on LinkedIn for the opinion of other people. I’m connected with both HR professionals (who are also potential candidates elsewhere) and other professionals (mostly IT-related professionals).
The most consensual answer about the topic was:
Some people genuinely identify themselves with more than one role at the same company, and want to let recruiters know they’re interested in performing one of those several roles. Other people are more interested in the company itself, and do this to express that interest and the variety of their own skills.
From my perspective, it can also depend on the roles themselves: if they are very different roles (and at least one them differs greatly from the person’s experience), I tend to see that application as rushed.
But — as one of my fellow HR colleagues pointed out — we should be on the lookout for what these applicants are presenting to us in their cover letters, or if they’ve written any passage in their CV’s that can help explain this.
Ideally, I believe we should be able to contact every one of them and ask why. For companies with entry or mid-level positions, it can be great to meet professionals who are willing to change careers and bring in other important knowledge. Not going this extra mile can cost us valuable candidates.
However, we know our time is short (as it is for everyone). For an HR professional with recruitment responsibilities, our tasks involve:
- Screening a ton of CV’s and cover letters per week (sometimes, for certain positions, I get hundreds of them);
- Schedule first interviews with candidates;
- Preparing for those interviews;
- Discuss what we think are the best candidates with hiring managers;
- Provide feedback to everyone involved;
- Manage the communication between candidates and hiring managers;
- Search for scarce talent on LinkedIn, and contacting potential hires proactively;
- Promote LinkedIn engagement to enhance the company’s employer branding (and help attract top talent);
- Help with new hires’ onboarding, first steps, and questions;
- Keep all the information updated and organized.
Now, imagine these tasks, but for the multiple positions that a company is hiring for.
As professionals, HR people need to filter in the candidates who provide the clearest information about their professional path and motivations. In case someone clearly is missing out on the experience needed for the role but can be a fit to the company in other way, we should always let them know this.
It happened to me very recently: one of the best hires I had the pleasure to manage was from a candidate that had actually applied to a whole different position, but was clearly better skilled for that one.
It’s all about balance: as a recruiter, you screen the person’s CV and cover letter, looking for clues that can help explain why that person is applying for more than one position. You need to pay attention, but also be dilligent with this, as time is precious.
As candidates, it’s our job to make it clear on our CV and/or cover letter what is our intent with such application. Since time is precious for everyone involved, it’s natural that if we are clearer in our application and write our CV’s and cover letters with intent, we’ll be highlighted from other applicants.
Even if your major interest is the company itself, you can direct your application towards a few roles yes, but always specify not only how your skills and motivation can help you do a great job, but also how the company interests you.