5 Tips for When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Apply for a Job

We’ve all been there: you apply for a job, and never hear back. It shakes your confidence, and makes you wonder why you wasted time crafting a snappy cover letter and résumé. Sometimes, you never really had a chance with that particular position, but never knew it.

Resume.io suggests any job posting older than four months is probably not worth your time. It cites a LinkedIn recruiting trends report that says companies take an average of “a few days” to four months to fill roles, and job postings left up after then are probably just abandoned by the employer (once the role is filled, a company may simply allow it to expire naturally, or linger on the board forever).

Here are some other big things to keep in mind:

Repeated Reposts

Reposted jobs are also a warning sign. If you’ve seen the same job from the same company posted several times, you may want to steer clear. This is indicative of fast hiring and heavy turnover; companies take the first candidate who checks the most boxes, only to terminate them a few months later (or else the new employee quits). There are all sorts of reasons new hires don’t pan out, but fast turnover is indicative of pay discrepancies or poor working conditions.

Compensation That’s Too Good to Be True

Cash may rule everything around you, but a posted salary can also be too good to be true. If you find a job posting with an income that seems unusually high, proceed with caution. We won’t tell you not to try to make the most money you can, but expect to be offered something more commensurate with your location and skillset. We should also mention some less-than-upstanding companies will post the top-end salaries to entice applicants; rather than list the base salary, these companies will list the best-case scenario that includes a full bonus as well as the potential value of stock options.

Which Company Am I Applying To?

Obfuscation is also a big ‘ol red flag. If you don’t know which company you’re applying to (and there’s zero mention in the posting), it’s a problem you don’t want to overlook. There are caveats for this, though, so don’t be too outright dismissive. Many times, recruiting firms are hired to find candidates without disclosing the company to those potential hires until later on in the interview process. Sometimes this is to hide a company’s plans, and you’d be asked to sign an NDA later on; but it can also be to dissuade applicants who just want a particular company on their résumé, no matter what the job is. If everyone knew they were applying to Google, the candidate pool would massively swell.

Who Else Is Applying?

Some job boards will also tell you how many applicants have applied, which should be a consideration. If you see 300 people have already applied, take a look at when the job was posted. If it’s an old posting, it may be worth passing on. Similarly, if it’s very new, expect the recruiters or hiring managers to be overwhelmed. We won’t say to avoid a new job posting with tons of applicants, but don’t get too excited about landing that gig.

Other Details

Other details, like salary info and whether remote work is available, are often listed right up top on job boards (as well as sites like Dice). For those positions listed by recruiting firms, we highly suggest you read the description thoroughly. It won’t always give you the name of the hiring company, but the descriptions usually provide enough insight that you can either piece it together or get a really solid idea of what the company does (and narrow it down from there).

No matter where you look for your next job, we suggest exercising restraint when things don’t look right.

9 Responses to “5 Tips for When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Apply for a Job”

  1. Fletch Hasues

    I think the overall gist of this article is sound. However, I can say I did the exact opposite of this to get the job I wanted. The position had been posted several times and had been stale a bit as well. The reason it was sitting on the job posting board was simply because the hiring manager was overwhelmed or had lack of focus. I had my resume with the company for a month and I finally called and asked if they were still hiring for the position and if they had my resume. I was asked to interview the next day. There was a bit of work to get through, but it worked out.

    Just recall there can be multiple reasons positions can be in this state; sure people may be severing from companies, and that can be indicative of something bad. However, it may be that they are not obtaining the type of talent they need. Perhaps they are building a team. That being said, that’s the purpose of the interview process; you find their needs and they find yours. I wouldn’t attempt to make a blanket reason that encompasses all companies for positions reappearing on job boards: it could be a missed opportunity.

  2. Douglas Wade Goodall

    An interesting read. I wanted to point out one thing I have recently noticed. I am a software engineer living in a modestly sized generally agricultural community called Santa Maria. There is nothing going on here for software engineers to speak of, but there are positions in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. There is a company called Revature that seems to be wanting to take over the software engineering world. Each day I get multiple email from job boards pronouncing that there are thiry software engineer jobs available in Santa Maria. On the face of it, I know there aren’t because I have been watching the jobs around here every day for the last six months. Then I look at the job list and the first ten jobs on the list are Revature. If you go to the fine print of one of these job listings, it says, “must be willing to relocate anywhere in America”. So not only are these jobs not real, local, or available, Revature is in the business of indentured servitude. They take people on and immerse them in training on credit, then the applicant must sign a contract to work only for them for years. If people want to go that way, it is their business, but from where I stand, Revature is spamming the job boards and wasting bandwidth. Even top-end career sites like Dice have Revature as partners and are letting them flood the listings. It gets old.

    • Frank Fabrega

      I also noticed the Revature SPAM on the job searches at this website. They basically post positions on all cities whether actual jobs exist at that location. Searching Revature on Google reveals many 1-star google reviews; all of them expressing how shady their business practices are.

    • Fletch Hasues

      Certain job boards are bad to allow this. Career Builder’s site was notorious for that, which is one of the reasons they aren’t as popular any more. While I understand the temptation for allowing it from a job post site’s position as it allows for more money, if people are no longer going to waste their time visiting because the site itself is a waste of time, it actually hurts them in the long run. They should want to protect the interests in both parties by either not allowing it, or allowing a checkbox to not let users to see positions like that. I think Career Builder added an option like that, but it never worked correctly. No ethics results in no trust.

  3. Dale Blankenship

    Another reason you see the same job posted over and over, is because the company isn’t actually hiring, they are just collecting resumes and “keeping their name out there”. Also, if the online application process requires you to enter salary history, they are seeing what they will need to pay if they actually have an opening.

  4. Susan

    Common sense advice. But some companies (Especially some of the job boards) leave postings up to goose the number of open positions listed to make themselves look more relevant than they are. In addition to making really bad hiring decisions, by some metrics, over two thirds, as some mgrs have told me looking only for tech skills and losing by ignoring attitude, fit and culture. It goes back to hire for attitude (And capability) train for skill. So why do companies keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Isn’t the definition of insanity? The only result is chaos. And a LOT of companies reposting is for another reason. They keep pursuing unachievable and impossible “perfection.” By rejecting virtually all the candidates they see looking for the perfect candidate, “we desperately need to hire someone. But we’re going to wait for the right person” with the “right” mix of skills. They then repost so the listing shows up as new. Luring candidates into applying. And as to companies posting openings to see what’s out there or what a given employee or role is worth, there are any number of salary sites, metrics, and surveys for that. The aggregate will provide all the info needed. Since HR is always complaining about being overworked and understaffed, why are they doing this in the first place?!?!

  5. Ron S

    The recruiting/staffing business needs a major overhaul. The way companies treat job seekers also needs a major overhaul. I mean gutted from the inside out.

    There are so many offshore recruiters, I very seldom receive calls from American recruiters these days.

    Five to ten times a day:

    “Are you currently in the market for a new role?” “Are you willing to relocate?” “How much are you looking for?” Then, they go into a chat about a role that has nothing to do with my background!!

    Companies no longer pay expenses. The hourly rates have decayed due to companies only wanting to pay offshore rates. Offshore companies created a whole giant industry offering rates that are so low, Americans are forced to match those rates in order to pay bills and just have a job.

    Now, the companies doing the recruiting are done by small to midsize Indian recruiters. They’re out there 10 to 1 or more than US recruiters.

    The corporate suite makes gazillions while we give in to offshore.

    Oh, I know, I know… supply & demand.

    The screwing of the American tech pro.

  6. Randy G.Carpenter

    All comments are note worthy, and valid. Past experience confirms that most companies are looking at the cost and not the quality of the individual or the skill set or value of the career life long learning and experience a seasoned employee brings. The culture and the fit are important to the success of the company.