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I am slightly concerned about applying to multiple companies at one time, not only because of the time consuming process, having to take leave for interviews etc., but also for the impact it may have down the line.

Specifically, if I was offered a position at two different companies, I accept one of the offers and a year or two down the line I decide I want to apply to the other company again, will I be at a disadvantage? Would they consider me a time waster considering I didn't accept their offer previously?

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Specifically, if I was offered a position at two different companies, I accept one of the offers and a year or two down the line I decide I want to apply to the other company again, will I be at a disadvantage?

In my experience, you would indeed be at a disadvantage with a company you rejected, particularly if you apply for the same job or a job in the same group later.

It might not matter for a big company where you might be applying for positions in different groups, and where your file isn't shared.

Would they consider me a time waster considering I didn't accept their offer previously?

It's not so much about being considered a time waster.

When I've been a hiring manager, and I see the resume from someone who rejected an offer before, I think "We couldn't come to an agreement before - why would this time be any different?" And I typically put the resume at the bottom of the pile while I look for other qualified candidates.

Your cover letter might explain that you had applied before, and might explain why you are more amenable this time. That might help. But you might still be at a disadvantage.

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    To add to this, I'd probably assume the rejection from before was that you wanted something better / more, couldn't find it, and decided to just take what you can get... FOR NOW. While always having one foot out the door towards that job you really wanted. – Andrew Whatever Apr 27 '16 at 18:39
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I would much rather be trying to get a job at a company that already interviewed me and gave me an offer than starting from scratch. In other words, try to cultivate as many opportunities as possible. If you turn someone down and later want to work for them just call or email whoever you have a contact for and start a conversation.

I have some experience with this, but the story is a bit complex.

  • I was working for a startup which started to fail (call them Co1)

  • When failure became apparent I started sending out applications.

  • I interviewed and received an offer from a very interesting company (Co2)

  • I ended up turning it down because I was going to stick it out with Co1.

  • Co1 failed and I got a contracting job with someone else (Co3) so I could stay where I was (Co2 wasn't in my ideal location)

  • My lease expired and I don't want to contract with Co3 anymore (gotta buy a house)

  • I called back up Co2 and they gave me another offer, which I signed.

  • While I was turning in my 2 week notice to Co3, they gave me a much better offer and opportunity to stay where I was.

  • I retracted my acceptance of the offer from Co2 and stay with Co3

I wrote an honest apology note to Co2 (I felt pretty crappy), but if I decide I want to relocate, I will definitely give them another call and convince them that I will really move this time. You've just gotta be able to answer the big question, whats different this time.

Finding a job is pretty complicated and uncomfortable at times, but when you're looking you've just gotta bear with being rejected and sometimes giving a rejection. If you go after opportunities one at a time it will take forever. I think almost all business men that develop prospects for a living would advise you to apply for as many jobs as you think are a good fit.

  • No offense but if I were doing the hiring for Co2 I doubt I'd consider you a third time. It's not your fault, you did what was best for you at the time, but I'd never trust you to stick around for long even if you did get hired, since it is clear Co2 isn't what you really want. – Andrew Whatever Apr 27 '16 at 21:34
  • @Andrew - my chances at that company are definitely worse after the second rejection, but I'm still not sure they are worse than if I was just a resume in a pile, but that is specifically because the interview went well and I had a good reference they knew. – Ian Apr 27 '16 at 22:12
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There's no way to know for sure, but it certainly could affect whether they consider you or not. A couple examples from my experiences follow.

During my last couple years of college I had a night job as a computer operator at the local branch of a banking chain. After graduation, I took another job. About a year later the bank had me in to their headquarters for an interview to be the lead operator at headquarters, and I was offered the job. Unfortunately, the hourly rate was a big step down from what I was making (although I'd have gotten about the same pay, due to expected overtime, but working nearly 2/3 more for the same income wasn't my idea of smart). Also, I would have needed to re-locate, but no re-location expenses were going to be paid. So, I turned down the job. A few weeks later I heard that a programming job had opened up, which would have been much more inline with my career goals, paid better, and worth re-locating. However, when I applied they just turned me down without consideration, telling me that since I was not interested in the operator's job, they didn't think I'd fit for the programming job.

A later example isn't quite an exact match to your situation, but may help illustrate how some companies think. I had a job I left and after a while at another company, I decided to try to get back in with the earlier organization. The person who would have been my direct supervisor was willing to have me back, but the management above her had no interest, saying that they thought that since I'd been unhappy enough to leave previously, then I probably wouldn't like it a second time around.

Of course, other companies may not operate this way, especially larger ones, as Joe Strazzere's answer mentions.

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