Can You Apply To the Same Job Twice?

Last Updated May 25, 2011 8:27 AM EDT

Dear Evil HR Lady,

There is a great job with a great company that I am interested in and well qualified for. I took a lot of time to customize my resume and cover letter and applied for the job three weeks back but haven't heard anything. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to network my way in so I had to use the company website to apply and it made you choose a desired salary (not even a range). I picked the midpoint of the range I thought was right for the job and my qualifications and hoped for the best.
Now, given some new information from someone I met who works for the company in a different location, I think I might have given too high of a figure and excluded myself from consideration. If it really is as great of a job as it sounds like I would work for less. What are your thoughts on applying again with a lower salary since the job is still posted? Will that look even worse if they see two exact resumes with different salaries or will the hiring manager never even realize that I submitted twice?

Part of what I am looking for is some insight into how in the world company HR sites work anyway. Are they big black holes that make decisions and spit out the best candidates based on a magical formula? Or do they just help organize the information and forward all resumes onto the hiring managers?
When I first read this question, I though, "Submitting two applications for the same position is whacked." Then I had a different thought (this is why I make the big bucks, people): "What's the worst thing that can happen?"

Well, the worst thing that can happen is you (drum roll please) won't get the job. Where are you today? Without that job. So, since you are already living the worst case scenario, what do you have to lose?

Well, a couple of things, actually. So, here are things to think about before you resubmit your resume.

  • Three weeks is an eternity to a job seeker and a blink of an eye to a recruiter. Although I'm fond of picking on recruiters, this is not a slam on them at all. This is just the reality of the job hunt. Other things are going on at the company, and 3 weeks after a job is posted, it's not at all unusual that qualified candidates have not been contacted.
  • Submitting two applications with 2 different salary requirements is a little different. It could been seen as a negative if the recruiter or hiring manager finds out about it. However, we don't think negatively about people who put their house on the market at $400,000 and then, later, lower price to $370,000. It doesn't mean the house is uglier or that the kids spilled purple Koolaid in the living room. It just means that they've found out the market won't bear $400,000. There's no logical reason not to think the same way about job seekers. But some hiring managers and some recruiters label a person who lowers his salary requirements from $75,000 to $65,000 as "desperate" and "there must be something wrong with this person."
  • If you were under consideration, this may result in you getting less money than you could have received. This is one of the many, many, many reasons I hate it when companies demand numbers from job seekers without sharing any of their own.
Those are the potential negatives. (Well, that and the secret HR network could pass your resume around while we all laugh hysterically at how silly you were to not be able to read the freaking mind of the hiring manager. Oh wait, forget I said that.)

There definitely are potential positives.

  • It's possible that no one has seen your original resume. If you submitted the resume/cover letter through the company's website and your salary was too high, there is a good chance that no one has even so much as glanced at your resume. The computer will only spit out people whose qualifications meet certain criteria. If your suggested salary is too high, you are eliminated before anyone's seen your resume.
  • It's possible they have seen your resume and you were too expensive. "Boy, we'd really like to interview that Jane Doe, but she just wants too much money." If you submit again with a lower salary, they may add you to their pile of likely candidates.
  • The bigger the company, the more likely this strategy will work. Larger companies tend to rely more on the recruiting software in the screening stages than smaller companies.
If it really is impossible for you to contact the recruiter or hiring manager directly, then I would lean towards the "what have I got to lose?" strategy and go ahead and resubmit the application. When you write your cover letter, make sure you make it clear that this job is a perfect fit for you. That's really where your selling points will be anyway.

But would I do it, if I were you? Absolutely. What do you have to lose?

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Photo by Josep M. Rosell, Flickr cc 2.0