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A couple of years ago, I got an offer for a low-salary internship at a company. I declined for various reasons (not only because of the low salary), and went another path instead, because at the time I felt it would be a better path.

A couple of years later, the situation of my country's economy has significantly worsened, and I am in a difficult unsuccessful job-seeking period. I realise that, had I made a different choice before, I could have finished my internship and have been hired for a long-term job by that company, have been leading a very successful professional life. I could have avoided all the major difficulties I have now.

How do I apply for another job in the same company?

  • Do as if nothing happened a few years ago, and act like I'd act for any company? But then if they remember I was interested in an internship and told them right way I was going elsewhere, it could be a bad point for my candidature.

  • Tell the exact truth, that I strongly regret missing an opportunity to work for them, that it was one of the biggest errors of my life, and I am looking to work for them? But then it will feel like I am a beggar, which is always a very bad thing.

  • Or anything in-between, but it'd be hard to give a consistent message.

  • I've answered thinking that the "opportunity to work for" meant that they gave you an actual offer, was that the case? – Lilienthal Jan 8 '16 at 20:44
  • Indeed, they give me an offer and I refused. – Bregalad Jan 8 '16 at 20:48
  • Ok. I've added that into your question and retitled it to match what you're asking. Minor nitpick: when you choose not to accept an offer you'd say "I declined it". Refusing is what you'd do with a demand. – Lilienthal Jan 8 '16 at 20:54
  • @Lilienthal Thank you very much for this edit, the question looks much better now. (I'm not english) – Bregalad Jan 8 '16 at 20:55
  • Don't worry about it, your English is excellent, I only reworded a few things to make the post flow a bit better. I've edited my answer to talk about the "regret" angle, my original post was a bit too clinical: showing enthusiasm is never a bad thing after all. – Lilienthal Jan 8 '16 at 21:02
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You're overthinking this. As long as you didn't hugely screw up your rejection of their offer, the fact that they extended you an offer is an advantage for your application, not a black mark.

Since this was brought up on Ask a Manager just today I'll copy Alison Green's advice since it matches your situation very well:

Yes, apply again, and mention in your cover letter that they made you an offer for position X in 2011 that you weren’t able to accept at the time, but that you really enjoyed your conversations with them then and would love to talk with them about position Y. Then, after you do that, email the person you talked with five years ago (if she’s still there), include a copy of your application materials, and let her know that you applied through their formal system but that you wanted to reach out to her and let her know. Add something genuine about how much you enjoyed your talks a few years ago, and why you’ve remained interested in them this whole time.

Source: Reapplying to a company whose offer I turned down five years ago (#3 at the link), Alison Green, Ask a Manager, 2016-01-08

Mentioning in your cover letter or during an interview that you regret not accepting at the time can be a good move, if you can pull it off. But don't become overly dramatic about it. You talked about an internship, you decided not to take the offer. This happens. Hiring managers know that good candidates have plenty of opportunities.

As an example, this expresses enthusiasm for the company and the job and signals a good cultural fit without being overly emotional or pushy:

At the time, despite feeling good about your company and the cultural fit, I decided to accept another offer. While I now wonder if I didn't make the wrong choice, I'm excited about the possibility of joining you now with more experience in X, Y and Z.

  • Wow, the last sentence is just amazing! I could never be able to write such things by myself... – Bregalad Jan 8 '16 at 21:04
  • @Bregalad Don't worry, self-praise and selling yourself are skills you'll naturally develop throughout your career. :) If I may make a recommendation, and if you are still new to the workplace (the job you mentioned seems like it was your first out of college), I highly recommend you read through a few of the articles on the Ask a Manager blog I mentioned. That, along with this site, has helped me understand professional norms a lot more. – Lilienthal Jan 8 '16 at 21:16

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