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

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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, Career

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