This question about job applications has come up many times over the course of my time running The Prepary.
It would be my dream to work at company X. Is it okay to apply for multiple jobs at the company to increase my chances?
I definitely understand the logic here. On the surface, it would seem that applying to more jobs would increase your chances of getting called in for an interview. But the reality is that more isn’t always better.
The jobs you apply to become part of your candidate profile
When you apply to roles through an online system (which is very typical) the recruiter on the other end can see your entire application history with the company.
Recruiters generally look at this early on because they want to see if the company has had any prior interactions with you. What they also see is every other job you’ve applied for at the company.
It becomes very obvious when someone is throwing spaghetti at the wall and applying to anything and everything.
Too many jobs (or the wrong combination of jobs) can make you look unfocused
I say this a lot on the site, but your goal as a job seeker is to look like you’re approaching the job search thoughtfully and strategically.
Recruiters and hiring managers want to feel that you have a perspective on the type of role you want to be in and why you want to be in it.
What they don’t want is that “spaghetti-at-the-wall” candidate — someone who is so desperate to get into a company that they literally don’t care how.
Even if this is your reality, it’s not a good look. Not only does it make you look unfocused, but it’s also highly unlikely that you are even qualified for all of those roles, which means you’re wasting your time and theirs.
But what if I’m really qualified and excited about more than one job?
You can apply to more than one job at a company, but I would suggest keeping this number as low as possible and really considering which job you want the most.
I’d much rather someone go big (with networking, customized application materials, etc.) for the job they really want than waste time applying to 4 jobs that seem sort of similar to see which one sticks.
If you do apply for more than one job at a company, there are a few rules of thumb I suggest following:
- The jobs should be similar to each other in function – so it makes sense that if you applied for one, you’d also be really interested in the other
- They should be similar in level/qualifications – it’s highly unlikely that a job requiring 2 years of experience and 5 are both a good fit
- Do not do more than 3 at a time – Even if the above bullets apply, more than 3 just feels excessive and random in my opinion
Take company size into account
The other thing to keep in mind is that at smaller companies, all of your applications are probably going to the same exact person.
I’ve definitely seen a candidate come through for one job but then asked if they’d be interested in another that seemed to be a better match.
At larger companies, applying for similar roles in different lines of business makes more sense. There could be tons of recruiters working on many different roles who don’t communicate with each other.
Bottom line? If you’re going to apply for multiple jobs, make sure it doesn’t make you seem unfocused or out of touch with reality. Recruiters have complete visibility to your profile and a desperate applicant is usually not compelling.
Stick to 2-3 at the very most (at a time) and make sure you’re not sacrificing quality of application in order to make it happen.