When is a job posting too old? It can be really hard to tell. There are so many places where the same job is posted that it is hard to tell when and where to apply - or if it is even worth your time. That said, here is what you need to know about assessing whether a job posting is still relevant:

Timing is Everything

Finding a job posting of interest can be tricky enough for some people. Before you spend the time to apply to it, the best thing is to do a little research to see if it is worth your time. And, it is the timing of the job application that can play a big factor in how far your application will go.

The answer to the right timing is that it depends on what the job description says, the employer type, and where the posting that you are applying to is located. The easiest answer is always when the job has a closing date indicated in the job announcement. For example, government jobs almost always have a closing date. This makes it easy to know when applications will be reviewed and when the application cut-off is. But, most jobs do not include a closing date.

And, there are others that will automatically close after 30 days because of how the technology works. For example, most applicant tracking systems (ATS) and commercial job boards (i.e. Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, etc.) will automatically close jobs that are posted on them at 30 days. The employer can choose to leave it open longer, but most companies will let it close at the default 30 days.

On the other side of the timing spectrum, the answer is also typically pretty easy. A job that is posted publicly today or yesterday is certainly actively pursuing candidates. The organization likely hasn't even looked at the other applications yet, so the process of applying is definitely still worth it if you are interested in and qualified for the position that you want to pursue.

So, what about the rest of the jobs? Those that have been posted 2 days - 29 days ago? Here is a step-by-step guide to ensuring that you are making the most of your time in applying.

Step #1 - Do the Research

Take the time to investigate whether the job is still active. The best way to do this is to go back to the company's job board (if they have one) and to see if it is posted there. If not and the job was posted more than 14 days before on a commercial job board, then it is fair to presume that the job is no longer active.

Why does this happen? Why do people encounter jobs on job boards that aren't active? This happens for 2 reasons. First, the company may have set their applicant tracking system up to push the jobs out to multiple commercial job boards, but they may not have set it to pull it down. Meaning that the company's candidate system sent the job announcement out to a lot of different job boards to advertise it, but they never were able (or forgot) to take it down. This is one of the reasons why going directly to the company through their careers page is best. It may create another step in your application process, but it ensures that you are spending your time wisely.

The second reason why these stale job postings float around is because of the way the job boards work. Many pay-to-place ads job boards are actually job aggregators. This means that the company goes to one job board (i.e. Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc.) and those commercial job boards push the jobs out to 1000s of other job boards. In connecting those job boards, the job board and the job aggregator may never have set up a way to take down the jobs that are pushed out. So, the jobs just sit there until they are automatically closed by the receiving job board.

There are also a lot of job boards out there that will buy jobs off of other job boards to create postings on their job boards. These companies will also scrap jobs off of other job boards or large company career pages. These jobs are almost always stale after 7 days because there is no telling how long the jobs were posted before the job board received them.

Step #2 - Get Help From the Inside

When you start building your application, take the time to see if you know anyone that works at the company. If you do, it is almost always worth reaching out to that person before clicking submit. Be smart in how you reach out to the person and do not wait forever for the person to respond. But, take the time to reach out if you can.

The person that works at the company or that has strong ties to people at the organization can help quite a bit more than most people realize - even if they aren't in the department that you want to work. First, many companies have established employee referral programs. These referral programs often involve a separate database or processes in the ATS that can automatically result in an interview for the candidate with an interview. These resumes are reviewed by actual people in most companies and not just the applicant tracking systems.

The HR people reviewing applications through the employee referral program take a different approach to the process. They give a lot more latitude to the candidate and are only looking to see if the person generally meets the requirements. The HR person will also typically give deference to the referring employee about your qualifications based on who that employee is at the company and how well they are viewed in the organization. So, who that person is at the company and what they say about you can make a huge difference to expediting your application at the organization.

In some cases, your contact will say that they can't help with your application or that they may not be able to do so in time. That's ok! Simply ask that person for insights about the company and the hiring manager or the team that you are applying to. This information can be huge in making sure that you build your application the right way before you ever send it in. Your contact will be able to share insights that you would never be able to find online by yourself and incorporating them into your application will make it that much easier for you to stand out when you do apply.

Step #3 - Do it Right

Quality over quantity, always. If you don't, your resume will get stuck in the ATS black hole. Or, a recruiter will see it and know that you were applying to any and everything. Doing this repeatedly, especially at the same company, can result in your permanent rejection at the company.

Taking the time to submit a quality application for every single job that you apply to means that you have adapted the resume and cover letter to show on the paper that you are qualified for the job. And, as covered above, you have tapped into your network to get help in the process in whatever way makes the most sense for you.

Spending a lot of time on an application doesn't necessarily translate to a quality application. If you are researching the company, make sure that you are incorporating that research into your resume and/or cover letter. Don't waste countless hours reading about the company. Instead, most people can find what they need with some quick internet search in 30 minutes. Then, make sure that you use that information on your resume and cover letter.

Finally, as noted above, quality in your application means going directly to the company whenever possible. Use the commercial job boards for research to find the positions if needed. Then go to that company's job board and apply using their careers page. This will ensure that your data is properly mapped into their candidate system and enable you to get notices about other opportunities that come up at the company.

Step #4 - Don't Hold Your Breath

The job posting that you are applying to may sound perfect, it may feel like it was written just for you. But, applying to a job is a far step from accepting the offer for the position. So, sitting back and waiting is never the right strategy.

No matter where you are in the job search process, it is always best to keep applying to jobs. There are always things that come up unexpectedly and that can mean that jobs get put on hold, internal candidates get the job, companies are sold, etc. Point being, if you want to move on from your current job then you need to actively pursue the openings in the market.

In many cases, after you hit submit, you aren't done. Many companies and recruiters would expect you to use your skills, industry knowledge, or network to execute a follow-up strategy. Doing this shows that you are interested in the job and the company. It can also show people at the company that you have the skills that you listed on your resume and cover letter. So, make sure that you put these skills to work for you and follow-up on those pending job applications when possible.


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