I work at a small college in New Hampshire. One of our former students would like to apply for one or more positions at the same company; he feels he would be qualified for several of them. His question: Should he apply for his first choice and hope that if he is not chosen that they offer him something else? Does he apply for all positions, or should he apply for the one and note in his cover letter that he is interested in other position (that he would name)?
If your client is applying online, he should check to see if the online recruiting page for the company allows him to select more than one job. Some recruitment websites allow an applicant to select multiple positions even though they accept only one resume to be reviewed for all positions selected. Most have the opportunity for a cover letter, which should be used strategically. Here's what I mean:
When a job seeker applies online for a job, he creates an online profile, which can be accessed by all company recruiters and managers. When the applicant selects a particular job, his profile is automatically sent to the recruiter who represents that job. If the applicant selects more than one job (assuming the system allows him to do so), his profile may be sent to more than one recruiter. In the latter case, the cover letter should be appropriate for each of those recruiters.
If I was a recruiter for one of the selected jobs and I read a cover letter that said the job I was representing was not the applicant's first choice, I would consider another applicant for the job. See what I mean? It would be better if the cover letter worked for all the jobs and emphasized that the job seeker is most interested in working at this particular company.
If your client is sending his resume by snail mail, I suggest he call the human resources department and ask how they would like him to handle the multiple job situation. On the phone your client should be perfectly honest about his preferences and ask if he should send separate resumes to individual hiring managers, or just one resume to the human resources department. In large companies, resumes are typically entered into a database similar to the system described above.
Whether applying online or with hardcopy, the resume should contain all the keywords that define the applicant as a qualified candidate for all the jobs he is considering.