can I ask about a different position than the one I just accepted?

A reader writes:

I lost my job 5 months ago, and was recently hired to a position at a company I love. While researching the company during the interview process, there was a department I preferred to work in, but there were no openings in that department at the time. I did however interview for a position that I know I will still enjoy. When the offer came, I took it happily even though it meant taking a $10,000 pay cut from what I was making previously.

In my preparations to start my new position, I recently was looking over my company’s website and a position in the department I’d ideally like to work in is open. Not only that, it’s a managerial position with greater responsibilities and the pay is back where my salary used to be before I lost my job. I wouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet, which during salary negotiations was made clear to my hiring manager. In addition, most of my work experience is applicable and relevant to this new position anyway. I have about 2 years experience in the position I was hired for and about 8 years of experience in the areas the managerial position calls for.

Is there any chance I could talk to my new company about being considered for this managerial role? I don’t want to seem flighty or that I just took any job to get out of the unemployment ranks. I am genuinely excited about my new position. However, I know that I could make and impact and have longevity in the managerial position in the other department that pays better. I would think a company would want the best fit for all of their employees. And because I just got the offer last week, there is a change the runner up candidate in the position I accepted is still available.

This is delicate, for precisely the reason you pointed out: You don’t want to appear flighty or like you’re not committed to the job you accepted.

If you do this, you need to be very, very careful about how you do it, both in words and in the vibe you give. You don’t want to come across as if you’re coveting this other position, but rather that you’re raising a possibility that might help the company solve a business problem. I think if I were determined to do this, I would say something like this: “I wanted to raise something with you, and if it’s crazy, I won’t give it another thought. I saw you’re hiring a __, which is something I have a lot experience with. Now don’t worry — I’m excited to get to work and have been thinking a lot about ___ (fill this in with a project you’ll be working on in your new role). But I don’t know which of these two jobs is harder to hire for. If this new one is a tougher one to fill, would it be worth talking about whether the company could better utilize me there?”

Be prepared for them to shut you down on this immediately. They may not think you’re the strongest fit for the second position, and/or they may not want to screw over or the manager who has already been told you’re about to start working for her. Or they might just not want the hassle of dealing with something like this, especially if they know they’re not going to have a hard time finding a great fit for the second position, even if they do think you could be good for it too.

On the other hand, who knows, maybe they’ll be open to it.

But I do think it can be a risky move, so weigh all the factors carefully before proceeding.

{ 6 comments… read them below }

  1. Unemployed Gal*

    It sounds like you�re overqualified for the job that they offered you, which means that management is already taking a risk in hiring you. They know that this is a �step down� in responsibility and that the pay cut is a financial burden for you. They�re trusting that you won�t ditch them as soon as you get a better offer. Now you want to tell them that you want a better offer. You�ll be proving to them that they should have offered the job to someone with less experience or lower salary requirements. No matter how delicately you approach this, they may rescind the original offer.

    I know that being unemployed means sometimes you have to take what you can get. But if you really, really want that better paying management job, I urge to decline the offer for the other position. If you accept it, you�ll spend your days stressing over your financial burden and sulking that you didn�t get the better job that you �should� have with your experience. This will hurt your performance, and it will prevent someone who would be happy in this position from getting it.

    I suggest that you meet with management and ask to be considered for the other position that better meets your skills. Tell them that you would be a better asset to the company in that position and that it meets your necessary salary requirements. You will probably lose the first position, but you could end up with the one you really want. You�ll also reassure management that you won�t be hunting for better offers elsewhere because you�ll be in a position that meets your qualifications.

  2. Anonymous*

    You said you enjoy the new position but would prefer the other. In cases like this I always recommend staying where you are for a year or two. Then after you've proven yourself (and kept your skills current in the mean time), apply for the next open position in that dept.

    In the mean time you'll get to know the company, build your brand there, and may be on tap without having to apply when the next opening comes around.

    While I understand the grass looks greener (I too took a position with a $10K decrease before), you may find little nuances of the other position wouldn't have been ideal for you in the long run.

  3. Anonymous*

    Trying to get the other job before you've even started the one you've accepted won't look good at all, IMO. You will look like a job-hopper, someone unable to fulfill their commitments.

    I'd take the job you've accepted and wait for another opportunity to open up in that other department. After six months or a year, put in for a transfer. You'll have your current managers to recommend you, if you do a good job, which is always a good position to be in.

  4. Anonymous*

    I'd take the advice of the other people who posted and stick with the job you were offered. However, it doesn't hurt to drop a few hints (nothing obvious please!) about skills that you have (which coincidentally could be the same skills the other position needs). Your new hiring manager (or the other hiring manager) may hear of your skills and extend the opportunity to you themselves.

  5. Pat*

    This is risky business but I would try to get the other job or at least bring it up. There are many ways to go about this without seeming flighty.

  6. Jay*

    I somewhat agree with the previous posters, however, I’d like to add a little more. I do not believe there is an issue with saying something like…”I will do this job to the best of abilities because this is the job I accepted, and I am committed to it.” “However, I was do some due diligence on our website, and I noticed that their was another position open that if it came available again down the road, I’d be interested in.”

    This response would tell your employer, I’m committed to what I have accepted in terms of my current position, but hey… I am also interested in moving into a position where I could make more of an impact down the line.

    This indirectly lets the employer know you’re interested but you understand you accepted a position already of which you are going to do your best. They may even inquire on your behalf just because you brought it up. Or remember what you said if another position comes available in a few months.

    Not saying isn’t the best thing to do. Let them know your interest level. A part of the interview process is to let the employer know how interested you are in moving up in the organization, so being called “flighty” isn’t going to work here since you are staying with the same company. That term typically applies to a company change.

    Grind out the current position, and do extra things outside your current resposibilites, so they can see… “this person can impact us (the company) better over here in this position.”

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