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I currently have a perfectly fine job. But there is another company I am very interested in. Lets assume this company will always have job openings.

Now if there is a position requiring more experience than I have, should I apply now? Or should I continue on my path until I have (closer to) the necessary experience? Or both?

In other words, would applying to a company for a position and being rejected, hurt your chances with that same company a few years down the road?

  • It entirely depends on each company whether they consider "repeat applicants" more favourably or less or they just don't care. – Masked Man Jan 12 '17 at 0:33
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"..should I apply now?" No.

"Or should I continue on my path until I have (closer to) the necessary experience?" Yes.

"Or both?" No.

"...would applying to a company for a position and being rejected, hurt your chances with that same company a few years down the road?" It could, though probably not likely. It depends if they keep a database of applicants, like I did at two employers, and if the two resumes differed inexplicably.

I would suggest one of two courses of action (in order of preference):

1) Learn all you can about the advertised position, as well as, the Co. via the Co. website, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Search for online industry newsletters that mention the Co. Try to learn who had the position, who filled the vacancy, who the hiring manager is, and etc. Contact the hiring manager with an general inquiry letter expressing your interest in working for the Co. and mention any relevant info. you learned in your research but make no mention of the current vacancy (as if you didn't know of it).

2) Or, do all the above, and contact the Co. with the acknowledgement you don't have the prerequisites for the current vacancy but would like to apply for any position that might lead to it.

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I think you run the risk of instilling a bias against you. In my experience, there are several psychological factors that can enter in, but this is the most common outcome.

To make an analogy, imagine someone offers you a product that you're interested in. After evaluating the offering, you decide not to purchase it. How much harder will it be the next time to get you to re-evaluate and buy the product? Humans are primed to not want to be "wrong".

I think this can be overcome. Showing great enthusiasm (and backing it up with actions) helps, results will depend on the people you encounter, and so on.

I'd suggest one way to go about this is to ask for an "informational" meeting. You ask to meet someone in the company to find out how you to get their advice on achieving the role you want (don't make it specific to the company, though). This won't leave a black mark against you, opens the door for them to invite you to apply, and has the pleasant side effect of flattering the person you approach. This goes along with advice from @james-olson.

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To put it simply, applying now won't hurt your chances with them at all.

It would be to your benefit, actually. Should they reject you now for lack of experience, you'd still have established yourself as a potential hire down the road.

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