Sign up for the Spouse & Family Newsletter

Most Popular Careers Articles

Military Life 101

  • job fair
    Military Spouse Employment 101
    While the military will always throw a monkey wrench in any best-laid plans, your career doesn't have to be one of them.
  • (Photo: U.S. Department of Education)
    Military Spouse Education Help 101
    Good news for you: Being a military spouse can actually make some parts of going back to school easier.
  • (Photo: U.S. Navy)
    Military Life 101
    Military life has a lot of nuts and bolts. You know, the little things that make up just an ordinary day.
  • stack of one dollar bills
    Military Spouse and Family Benefits 101
    Don't know exactly how to get your military spouse and family benefits or want to know more about what they are? Read on.
  • Movers at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, load up a truck with household goods. Jose Ramirez/Air Force
    Military Spouse and Family Moves 101
    Whether you're an old pro or new to the military moving game, there's stuff to learn about PCSing. Here's our easy PCS 101 guide.
  • (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)
    Military Family Deployment 101
    Preparing for deployment can seem like an uphill battle. But we've been there. Here's what you need to know.
  • Military family
    Military Family Life 101
    Military life is not easy, but we've got your back. From marriage to kids and parenting, we have the resources you need.

Apply for the Better Paying Job or Get a Foot in the Door?

Stock image
Stock image

Dear Career --

I'm stumped. I found a company I'd like to work for locally and they have openings. Here's the problem: They have two openings I could easily fulfill, but one is a "higher ranking" position and a better paying job. Although I feel I'm qualified, I've been looking forever and would happily take the "lower ranking" position just to get my foot in the door.

What should I do? Do I apply for both? Only the better paying job? Should I say something specific in my cover letter?

-- Hesitating in Hurlburt

Dear Hesitating --

I get it: You are more than willing to do anything to work for this company, but don't want them to think they can pay you less just because you're willing. You want the better paying job, but don’t want them to know that they can get you for less than you’re worth. That last part is key as far as I'm concerned.

I think this problem plagues lots of people, but military spouses in particular seem anxious not to count themselves out and often sell themselves short in the meantime.

Don't do that. If you're truly qualified for the higher position and you meet the requirements they've posted, then go for it. You deserve to be paid fairly and to be rewarded for your experience.

But I know you also want to make sure you don't miss the opportunity to work for this company if they select someone else for the better paying job.

This is where the cover letter comes in. Write the letter with the higher ranking position in mind. Then, at the end, say something like, "I am really excited about this opportunity, but I'm even more excited about the chance to work for your company. Please don't hesitate to reach out if there are other opportunities you'd like me to consider."

If they reach out only about the lower position, you can ask directly if the higher position has been filled. If it has not, continue to market yourself for that position, but let them know that you're willing to take the lesser position if the other isn't available anymore.

What you don't want to do is let them pay you less and then require you do the work of the higher position. All of this can take careful wording, but just remember to be your own best advocate while still leaving a little room for flexibility so they don't feel like you aren't willing to talk about the lesser position if that turns out to be the best fit.

There is one exception to following my advice above. If this is an extremely large company and you're fairly confident they use a computer algorithm to weed through the first level of applications, it may behoove you to apply directly for both positions.

I would mention in the cover letter for the lesser position (provided that's an option) that you have applied for the better paying job as well and find yourself fully qualified for that role but, if the position is already filled, you're willing to talk about the lesser position.

Hope that helps,

Related Topics

Dear Career Spouse Jobs Family and Spouse Featured

Military News App by

Download the new News App for Android on Google Play or for Apple devices on iTunes!


Dear Career tackles the trickiest careers questions from real military spouses with advice from spouse career experts at In Gear Career.

A part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, In Gear Career chapters provide professional development and networking to career-minded military spouses located at military installations around the world.

Want to find a local In Gear Career chapter or learn more about what In Gear Career can do for you? Find us here!

Have a career question you’d like to submit? Email our experts at

Featured VA Loan Articles