Should You Apply for Two Jobs at One Company?

Should you apply for two jobs at one company? It’s one of those questions. You know the type—you ask ten different people, you get ten different answers. Half will say yes, half will say no, and all ten will feature subtle, yet irreconcilable, differences. It’s just not a question with a one-size-fits-all answer. Even so, we have some guiding principles to help you find an approach that works for you.

Should you apply for two jobs at one company? Let’s find out.

should you apply

The Short Answer

Not a great idea.

A Slightly Longer Answer

We said the question didn’t come with a one-size-fits-all answer, but if you’re looking for a general rule to prevent overthinking it, we recommend caution.

A hiring manager’s goal is to find the right candidate for an open position—the exact right candidate. The person she picks won’t be someone who simply checks the skill requirement boxes. The person she picks will be a specialist whose aim is to excel in that specific role, bringing excellence to the company while furthering his or her personal and professional goals.

If you apply for two—or, heaven forbid, three or more—positions at the same company, you run the risk of hurting your reputation at the outset. You may come across as a generalist, someone who has work-related skills but no professional focus, or you may appear desperate, as if your goal is to land a paycheck, not a career. Also, hiring managers are busy people. If a hiring manager rejects you for one position, she may feel you’re wasting her time when she sees your resume a second time.

The Exceptions to the Rule

But what if you desperately want to work for a certain company because it will benefit your chosen career path? And you are a strong candidate for two currently open positions at said company?

If this describes your situation, applying for both jobs may be acceptable, but you have to take steps to ensure you don’t come across as desperate, unfocused, or a generalist. Here are some steps you can take to help make a sterling first impression:

  • Make sure both jobs fit your desired career path and that you’re an equally strong candidate for both. If your skills and work history make you a stronger candidate for one, then apply to only that one.
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter for both jobs. Don’t send the same material for each.
  • If you are applying through an online system that limits you to one resume and cover letter, draft your cover letter to make your intentions clear and include keywords for both positions in your resume.
  • Reach out to the hiring manager. Whether over the phone or a cup of coffee, a meeting gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why you feel you are a good candidate for both jobs.

You may want to consider networking with the hiring manager either way. Even a short conversation can help reveal the person behind the name, and if you present yourself professionally, you’ll increase the likelihood that the hiring manager will remember you favorably when your resume comes her way.

Think Like a Pro

When asking yourself if you should apply for two jobs at one company, put yourself in the mindset of a professional. Any professional will do—for example, pool players. 

Pro pool players analyze all the shots on the table, select the best shot available, and aim carefully before sinking the billiard ball(s) in the corner pocket. Casual players, on the other hand, slap the cue ball at the largest cluster of balls and hope something falls in. And while casual players will occasionally get lucky, they don’t have the success rate of the pros.

It’s the same in the job market. If you want a professional rate of success, you must approach the application process with the focus of a pro and take only the best shots. Of course, every now and then, even a pro needs to just take a shot and hope for the best.

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market