Resumés, etc.

Why You Should Apply for Jobs You Don’t Want

There have been distinct scenarios in my life when I have deliberately applied for jobs at companies I didn’t want to work for or had never heard of or in locations I didn’t want to live. One of which was when I was desperate for a job and the other was when I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Both scenarios led me directly to companies and jobs I became enamored with after more research or locations that turned out to have benefits for me personally and professionally. I wouldn’t be as happy or successful as I am today if I hadn’t expanded my job search and been initially less picky.

I coach my clients to apply for as many jobs as think they might be interested in. They can always turn down an interview or an offer, but garnering as many opportunities and options as possible is only a benefit.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when expanding your jobs search:

You Can Always Say No
Don’t be afraid to apply for a job just because you “may not want it” and “might need to turn it down.” These are excuses my clients tell me all the time. Why bypass what could be an awesome opportunity? You can always say no. If you have trouble turning down an interview or job offer, make up an excuse. Say respectfully that you have decided to pursue a different opportunity, are no longer available due to some personal issues, or have already accepted another offer. While I don’t recommend it, you can always even ignore a hiring manager’s call for an interview or follow-up. Just don’t expect to apply for another position at a company that you ghost.

Don’t be afraid to apply for a job just because you “may not want it” and “might need to turn it down.”

You Can Gain Practice
The more interviews you take, the better and more comfortable you will feel. You will gain confidence, practice and perfect your answers to standard, commonly-asked interview questions, and learn which of your responses and anecdotes don’t go over well. Plus, if you’re bold, you can ask the hiring manager for feedback on your interview or resume, and sometimes they’ll provide it. If you don’t care about working at the company, you won’t be mortified if they don’t respond or provide bad feedback. You can use that feedback to correct your mistakes for the interview you care about.

You Might Fall in Love With the Company/Position
Several times I have applied for a position that I didn’t really want, and after accepting an interview and thoroughly researching the company, I realized that I the position was an incredible opportunity. One such opportunity was a small, unknown firm in a location I didn’t want to live and an area of law I didn’t know anything about. Once I did more research, I found that the firm, while new, was widely respected, had well-known clients, and provided their new hires with an incredible amount of training and responsibility. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made to further my career, and without taking such risks, I wouldn’t have been able to expand my career opportunities.

You Will Have a Fall-Back
Remember when you applied to colleges? You most likely applied to at least 7-8 schools. Why? Because you knew that you had a chance of getting accepted to at least 50%, but that you may not get accepted to your first or even second or third choices. So you needed fall-back options. Applying for positions you don’t initially think highly of can provide that fall-back. Again, you can always say no. But what if your current employer finds our that you’re searching for a job and starts to make your life hell? What if you are miserable at work and are desperate to leave, and none of your applications are garnering responses? Well, you have a fall-back. Note that I am NOT recommending that you settle for a job you strongly don’t want, but in the event that your “fall-back” option is available, is of interest to you, and can at the very least provide a transitional opportunity, then why not give it a shot?

Your Likelihood of Accepting a Position You Want at a Higher Salary Increases
I have found that when my clients have options, even if most of the options are not initially preferred by my clients, they are calmer and more reserved in their interview and application processes. Hiring managers can smell desperate candidates from miles away — it’s usually evident in a cover letter, phone screening, or the initial phone interview. Nervousness can also be exacerbated when a candidate is relying on a single job application to provide a new career opportunity. Giving yourself options reduces the reliance on any one single company, it increases your negotiating power, and it generally provides more confidence that you are a wanted candidate.


Unfold Careers has helped hundreds of clients write stand-out, affordable resumes and cover letters and negotiate stronger salaries. Contact us at for a free consultation or go to Unfold Careers for more information on our services.