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I recently (a couple of weeks ago) sent a speculative application to a company I like, asking about a role I'd love to work in. It's a locally founded coffee company that's soon to expand to nearby cities, and I applied for work in the roastery. I haven't heard anything from that application in the past couple of weeks.

Since then, I've found that the same company is advertising a front-of-house role in one of their cafés, which I'm not really interested in (due to working hours, and a disinclination to return to customer service work) but think I'd have a good chance of getting the job due to past experience in a similar role.

What would be the 'pros' and 'cons' of applying for the café job, just to get an 'in' with the company?

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    This is a good question, but I think more details would really help the community give you more useful answers. For instance, what kind of role do you ideally want and what kind of role is advertised? How big is this company that you like? Why do you think that you have a good chance of getting the job? – CullenJ Nov 6 '18 at 22:23
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    @CullenJ I've added more details as you suggested, and tried to make it less subjective by asking for pros/cons rather than a simple 'should I do this?' question. Hopefully this helps people answer! – RichardJ Nov 7 '18 at 0:07
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If you're capable of doing the alternate role and prepared to do that role for a reasonable period of time (say at least 12 months) despite it not being your primary interest then I'd say it's acceptable.

As with anything there are pros and cons to this strategy though:

Pros

  • You get an opportunity to demonstrate your work ethic to the company
  • You get an opportunity to make useful contacts within the company to potentially aid in transitioning later

Cons

  • If the alternate role is too far removed from the ideal one you may be harming your employ-ability for that
  • If you're too good at the alternate role they may resist "losing" you to the preferred one!
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    Cons: no guarantee that other position will ever be available for you after you get in. – cdkMoose Nov 6 '18 at 18:08
  • While I felt this answered the question best and with the most basic/obvious pros and cons, I also think the other answers from ebosi and Kilisi brought up some more great points, especially Kilisi's challenge of my concept of how helpful taking the café job would actually be. – RichardJ Nov 12 '18 at 13:40
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Opinionated answer: don't.

Even if it's in a company you (think you'd) like, you don't want to bother doing a job you don't like.

It's not (only) about "life is short", etc. Doing a job you really like makes you more motivated, more passionate — so more productive and, in the end, better at it than for a job you might be qualified for but you don't like.*

You will be happier too. Enjoying waking up and going to work every morning is an incredible feeling I wish you'll experience.

I've done both: a job I was suited for with low motivation and poor management, and a job I wasn't suited for but that I'm passionate about. For getting the latter, I had to accept being back an intern for a few months… after I had completed my PhD (would this mean something): I don't regret this decision at all.


* I'm here not comparing in absolute value "you in a job you're trained for but don't like" vs. "you in a job you like but know nothing about". I'm comparing "you in a job you like" vs. "another guy as skilled/knowledgeable as you at the same job but without motivation".

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    Thanks for your answer - I've just edited the question to re-frame it asking for pros/cons rather than asking if I should do it. I don't think this affects your answer much but wanted to flag the edit to you in case you wanted to change your answer. – RichardJ Nov 7 '18 at 0:09
  • @RichardJ Brilliant: your question is much clearer now! My answer is then a bit out of scope, though, even if it implicitly still answers it… – ebosi Nov 7 '18 at 11:17
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What would be the 'pros' and 'cons' of applying for the café job, just to get an 'in' with the company?

Excellent answers already, I just want to add to the cons and mention something that seems to have been missed. Cons first.

The job you want may never eventuate, and the 'in' is unrelated and of dubious worth if any at all. People do move sideways in companies but usually in fields where they have proven an ability to change roles. Whereas you're not even in the same building or interacting with the people it would be valuable to in terms of changing roles.

A huge con is that it's not a job you want to do. This can lead to frustration, apathetic work ethic and all manner of negatives with nothing except a nebulous 'in' to offset it.

But by far the biggest con is the waste of time and effort, because there are better ways. You would be better off gaining relevant experience in something related to the role you want.

Lastly your idea of an 'in' has issues. There are two types of 'in' that are widely used and useful for what you want.

You network with the people you would be working with and impress them as someone they'd like to work with and someone who could do the work. Not particularly hard if you're in close proximity. This is the grass roots referral.

Secondly you demonstrate competence to management and come in through that avenue. This is trickier and may include some shameless 'yes man' stuff. But it's widely used.

Just working for the same company as the role you want is nowhere near as good an 'in'.

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