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The Career Navigator: Start at the Top

If a company lists several job openings, here are four reasons you should apply for the highest level position you’re qualified for.

A career coaching client recently asked my advice about applying to a company that had several openings he was qualified for. I recommended he apply for the highest-level position. This is for several reasons:

1. The more senior the position, the harder it is to fill because fewer people are qualified and fewer people apply because they don’t feel they are qualified. Many candidates eliminate themselves because they think they need to have all the requirements of the job. I discovered that you don’t need to have all the requirements listed in a job posting when I applied for a high-level position at Hanna-Barbera Animation. I had about 10 percent of what they were asking for in the ad. I was surprised when they contacted me for an interview. I didn’t get the job, but I did get to see the interior of the studio that made the cartoons I had grown up with and meet some amazing people.

I also learned that job descriptions often inflate qualifications, so companies don’t have to deal with as many applicants. I was reminded of this years later when I recruited for a company looking for an animator with “5-7 years’ experience using Alias software in a film studio or similar environment.” Alias software had only been on the market for 3 years at that time. The company ended up hiring a student with no experience who had an amazing reel and attitude to match.

2. If a candidate doesn’t fit one open position another may be offered. It is possible that a candidate for the higher-level position may be asked if he would take a subordinate position. It is rare a candidate for a lower level job be encouraged to accept a higher spot. So why not start at the top?

3. By applying to the most senior level position you are qualified for you honor your own accomplishments, achievements and expertise. You build your self-confidence during the job search.

4. Interviewing for higher-level jobs means you meet higher-level people in the interview process.

Take a chance and take the leap. You are ready, whether you know it or not.


Pamela Kleibrink Thompson assists her clients to reinvent and transform, whether it’s starting new careers or businesses or starting new jobs or beginning college educations. Whether they need encouragement, accountability, a game plan, or a road map, Pamela helps them achieve their goals. To schedule a one-on-one career coaching session, or to book a speaking engagement, contact Pamela Thompson, The Career Navigator, at