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Ask Victoria | When is a Job Listing "Too Old" to Apply?

Ask Victoria | When is a Job Listing "Too Old" to Apply?

Dear Victoria,

I’m a young professional who works at a large nonprofit and recently started searching for a new job. In looking at online job listings, it appears that some positions are listed for a couple of weeks while others remain online for a month or longer. How recent do you think a job posting should be when you apply? I know some companies take a long time to find the right candidate, so I’m not sure if I should ignore the date completely and just assume if the position is listed that it’s still available. At the same time, I start to question how often a website is being updated when I see job postings that are a couple of months old or older.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Sincerely,

Skye


Dear Skye,

I would say that a good rule of thumb would be to avoid spending too much time on applications for listings that have been published more than 3 weeks ago, and to put your main focus on the listings that have been published most recently. Based on my own observations working with many job seekers, it seems like the older the listing, the less likely that the job is available. 

The more recent the listing, the better. Sure, an organization may have left the listing up because they are still looking for a candidate. In some cases however, it's because they paid for the listing to be live for X amount of days or weeks, and it just makes good business sense to keep it up and let it expire rather than take it down. For positions in which there is a high rate of turnover, leaving the position up means that people who might be interested in the opportunity in the future have a great chance of seeing the listing and applying at a future date. Smaller organizations who post their listings directly on their own website might not have the manpower to remove the information in a timely fashion. In either case, they may have started the interview process with some candidates and decided to leave the listing up just in case things don’t pan out with their first choices.

There is no tried and true answer to how "old" a listing need be before you stop considering the job opportunity. While you could use “3 weeks or older is definitely too old” as a guide (like I do), you could also take a quick assessment of the following:

When is the application deadline? If it passed, spend your time on other applications instead. If the organization did not find what they were looking for the first go-round, it's likely they will re-post the listing or update it, rather than just leave up the old one.

How large is the organization? Larger organizations may take a longer time to start looking at applications, so there is the chance that even though the listing date is old, the hiring manager still has not reviewed applications. Smaller organizations may leave their listings up for a long time because they just have not received the volume of applications that they were hoping for.

How popular is the organization and how in-demand are its jobs? The more popular the organization, the more likely there will already have been a large number of applications submitted. It's up to you if you want to throw your hat in the ring to potentially stiff competition! 

How in-demand or specialized are the skills required? If the skills are in high demand, it may be harder for the organization to attract talent; if the position requires specialized skills, it might take a longer time to find the talent with those skills.

What other guidelines/information does the listing give? For example, does it say that applications will be reviewed in the order they are received/on a rolling basis? If so, you might infer that a listing that was published 2 months (or even 2 weeks) ago is no longer valid. If it says "all applications will be reviewed on or before X date", you have a better shot of being considered...as long as you get your submission in by that date! 

To your success,

Victoria

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