Should You Apply For Jobs You Don’t Want?

Should You Apply For Jobs You Don’t Want?
Photo: Hunters Race, <a href="">Unsplash</a>

Reddit user MrNumber28 asked, “Some days I wonder if I would get paid more working for a different company. I am happy at my job with the work I do, but would obviously love to be paid more. Is it wrong/is there any reason why I shouldn’t shop myself around to see what else I could get?”

It’s a dilemma that can make you second-guess every career choice you’ve made since day one. Should you be grateful for what you have and be confident in the job you’ve got? Or should you always be on the prowl for something better?

Add that career FOMO to this tidbit that comes up every now and again: Your salary grows far faster when you switch jobs every few years rather than wait for a raise.

The very busy Reddit thread offered words of caution from many who had been there and done that. Yes, they agreed, you should always have an eye on what’s available in your field. But do so with discretion.

Check your worth

mikefaley insists it’s not personal, it’s business.

Hell yeah. I always, and encourage employees of mine, to always interview. It’s not like cheating in a relationship. This is business. As an employee you should always have an idea of your market value, and you should practice interviewing by doing reps like anything else. When the big one comes along, you should be ready for it.

Jasonpatudy recommends a yearly check of the market:

One of my best bosses used to tell me to apply to other companies at least once a year to gauge my worth in the marketplace. You don’t have to necessarily ask for a match each time, but it gives you an idea how much to ask for when you get promoted.

Keeping an eye on job descriptions in your field can help you identify companies that pique your interest. It can also help you weed out places you definitely don’t ever want to work, like any company looking for a keyboard ninja, online warrior, or spreadsheet guru.

Prepare to practice

Jesuschin said their first interview after a while was a doozy:

Oh man, I let out a curse word during my first interview after 11 years of not going on one and I was thinking inside my head “definitely not getting this one.” Gotta say though that it lifted a weight off my shoulders and I just used the rest of that interview honing what I needed to for future ones.

Sasselhoff said it can help prepare you for the worst-case scenario:

If you happen to lose your job suddenly (whatever the reason), your resume is up to date, you’re comfortable interviewing because you’ve been “practicing” and you know where you stand in the job market.

If you’ve been off the market for a while, practicing interview questions can help you anticipate any areas that could trip you up—you can even ask Alexa to help you prepare.

Test the waters before investing too much energy

Cogentorage advised asking The Big Question early on:

If you’ve got a job you’re happy with, but find yourself in frequent contact with recruiters, start with salary requirements. If you have some idea what you’re worth, you can cut out a lot of junk offers that way.

Recruiters and hiring managers expect you to ask about salary early on in the interview process, so don’t be shy about asking for details while you’re learning about the position and the company.

Know the limitations of your industry

Iplaychemistry said:

My industry is full of small businesses that are relatively niche. If I were to go around interviewing I could easily burn every bridge for potential employment in my field in the state and lose my job in the process. The industry matters.

Working in a small field means you should be extra discreet when browsing job opportunities—and you may want to ask potential employers to keep your application under wraps, Alison Green of Ask a Manager advises. Another word of caution: If you’re applying for jobs without any intent to ever switch companies, you could burn bridges in both directions.


  • Over a decade ago, I worked for a major private company. Some lucky breaks saw me hopping up into a position that provided the best money I’d ever made, but it came at a cost.

    Management was criminal. Literally. Criminally stupid, at that. They actually breached the Surveillance Act at one point by installing (AND PRODUCT-REGISTERING) key-loggers on the break room computers specifically designated as for private, personal use (when challenged: “We need to know if anyone’s saying anything bad about the company!”), and I really wish we’d reported it to the Federal police at the time to deliver some well-deserved fucking jail time instead of using the discovery as a bargaining chip for slightly better conditions.

    These ‘leaders’ falsified employee-submitted medical records to deny compensation claims (seemingly not realizing that the employee – who wound up laughing all the way to the bank and early retirement – was able to request and obtain the falsified version on appeal, and compare it with the version their doctors kept).

    They kept a plain-text word document called, “Shit List,” which listed all the ‘troublemakers’ to be fired when possible – people who raised possible process problems, people who met with union representatives, people who complained). The then-manager assumed this document was inaccessible to the rank and file because it was in their personally-named folder in the public network drive. They were incorrect.

    The entire collective of leadership was an example of failing upwards. One day I had to explain to the manager how the idiotically-measured KPIs were driving behaviour that cost the company a ridiculous sum, and they replied, “But that cost doesn’t come out of our department’s budget, so we’re going to keep doing it.” This and more I wouldn’t have believed if it was in a sit-com or movie about corrupt, unethical workplaces.

    I couldn’t take it any more. I quit. At Christmas, right when all the HR departments shut up shop. Without having picked a new job to go to. It took me YEARS to get back to the same pay-grade… but at least I could sleep at night and going to work didn’t make me want to throw up every day.

    Money isn’t everything. By all means look around if you think you’re underpaid at someplace you enjoy working, but I say that corporate culture matters a shitload more than pay does.

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