Conundrum: To apply or not to apply?

From time to time clients come to us with a job specification wondering if they should apply for the job. If you’re in this boat, there are several things you need to think about.


Is this job up the ladder, a sideways move or maybe a step down? Do you have the skills, qualifications and/or experience needed? Will this job challenge and stretch you? These are just some of the questions that can only be answered by a thorough review of the job specification and booklet if available. In particular, if this job is a major leap or a step down, potential employers will ask why did this person apply for this job when reviewing your CV or application. So, you need to think about the ‘why’.


Motives for applying for any job are many and varied. “I should be seen to apply for it” (this goes for internal jobs, especially). “I need the interview experience/It’s the next career step/The salary is higher/I want to relocate or, not to be overlooked/I want this job”.

Recently I had a client who applied for a job on the other side of the country just because he knew a similar opportunity was coming up closer to home. He felt by going for this job, he would gain some insight into the selection and interview process for the job he really wanted.

Take a good look at your motives and make absolutely certain that they are your motives and not anyone else’s. If you go to the trouble of applying for a job, you can’t blame someone else if you don’t get it. Or, indeed, if you do, and it turns out to not be the right move for you.


So, depending on your motives, your approach may be different (and, indeed, your stress levels). For example, if you just want to get interview experience, you may not be too bothered about getting the job. However, I still recommend that you give it your all. Prepare like you want it, otherwise you’re not getting the most authentic experience possible.

If it is an internal job, this can be challenging, especially if you feel you have to apply but may not want the job. Apply as normal and when it comes to interview, be as honest as you can be. But keep in mind that you may be really glad of this opportunity in a few years’ time.

Review and evaluate

Once you have applied for the job, and maybe even gone through the stages to interview and possibly a job offer, stop and think.

What did you learn from the process? What are your strengths? Where could you improve? Was it worth it? What did you learn? How has the overall experience supported your long-term career plans?

If you don’t get the job (and you really wanted it), maybe you need to rethink your plan, which may be a blessing in disguise.


I definitely don’t recommend applying for jobs just for the sake of it. But, there can be a lot to gain by pushing yourself to the next level. It might not be your time today, but the legwork you put in now may pay off in the longer term. This can often be a conundrum for someone.

And that’s certainly worth something.


John Moloney is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers. We have offices nationwide, plus a full online service. Our services include CV preparation, interview training, mock interviews, personal statements, career planning / direction, LinkedIn profiles and application forms.

Make a booking HERE  for CV Preparation, Application Form writing, Interview Training and Mock Interviews.

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