how can you determine how old a job posting is?

A reader writes:

How can you determine how old an online job posting is? I feel like this is so muddled if the job is posted on the company’s site but doesn’t have a date. Then you see that the same job is posted on several additional job boards with different ages. A job that says “two days ago” on Glassdoor could say “30 days ago” on Indeed. It makes it so hard when I only want to apply to jobs that have been up for max one week.

You usually can’t reliably determine how old a job posting is. The most reliable source of info would generally be an employer’s own website, but those are often the least likely to tell you when the post went up. Plus, a post that says “two days ago” could have been up for months and was just renewed again two days ago.

But I want to push back on you wanting to only apply to jobs that have been posted for less than a week. I assume you’re figuring that you have the best chances with those — that the employer is less likely to have already honed in on other people. But while it’s true that some employers move very quickly, interviewing people from the very first group of applicants, there are a ton of employers who don’t do that.

Some employers wait a couple of weeks before they start reviewing resumes (and then review them in one big clump, not in order of when they arrived). Some employers wait for a specific closing date (which may or may not be advertised) before they start looking. Others look as applications come in but are looking for the true cream of the crop, which means they’re not likely to find all their finalists in the first week’s worth of applications.

And the more senior, specialized, or skilled a role is, the less likely an employer is to find their finalists early on. I hire for difficult-to-fill, senior-level jobs and those postings are up for months and we’re actively screening new candidates that whole time.

And really, do you want to work somewhere that cares so little about hiring the right people that they’re going to hire whoever shows up in the first few days’ worth of applicants? That’s not how you get great employees, or great coworkers. (There are some jobs where there are enough strong applicants in the first few days that even a good employer might not look at people who apply after that. But that’s the exception, not the rule.)

In fact, the pattern I’ve found is that the applicants in the first few days a post is up are generally fairly weak because they’re people who are resume-bombing — submitting their resume to everything they see that they might be remotely qualified for. The really strong candidates tend to come in later in the process, probably because they’re being more selective and even leisurely in their search. That doesn’t mean no great candidate ever applies early in the process — they do — but this is the general pattern I see over and over.

So I wouldn’t get too invested in trying to figure out exactly how old a job posting is. Unless you have real cause to think it’s very old, if you’re interested you should apply. That does mean there’s not a risk that you could spend time applying to a job where they’ve already focused in on other candidates and won’t give you a serious look — but that’s the case with any job you apply for. You can’t know from the outside. If you’re interested, apply.

{ 144 comments… read them below }

  1. Kathleen_A*

    I, too, have to wonder why you’re so focused on jobs that have been posted for only one week, OP. Every place I’ve ever worked, we post jobs for at least two weeks, and all candidates that apply in that time frame are considered. No doubt there are employers who have a deadline (posted or artificial) of one week or less, but I’m pretty confident those are in the minority. So unless you are sure it’s really old, my suggestion is, if you’re interested, apply.

    1. Me*

      Ours work the same way. The amount of time it’s posted varies, but unless it says “open and continuous”, they are all being given equal weight and review no matter when they arrive during the window and they’re all reviewed at the end of the window, not before.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      We do the same. Our job postings don’t usually have a start date, but they do have an end date. The day after the end date is when all the applications are reviewed, usually in alphabetical order. Whether the person applied a minute after the posting went up or a minute before it closed, they all get considered after the closing date.

    3. Jessen*

      I’m wondering if OP is more used to low-level jobs? I know some of my jobs have been the sort where they’ll take pretty much any warm body, and the procedure tends to be “hire any applicant that’s basically qualified until we have enough people.” And this does sometimes result in job ads being left up when there’s no position.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This is my assumption, especially if they are using any kind of aggregator site to look for jobs. I’ve found many posts that might be interesting but then realize that they have been up for weeks and have likely found the people they need. This is in the context of trying to find a part time “filler” job, though, so it seems more likely that they will not be as picky about hires.

      2. Gaia*

        To be fair, it could also be the norm for her industry despite career level. For example, my field is hiring very quickly (when they hire at all) right now due to a shortage of candidates requiring companies to move quickly once a qualified applicant appears. Of course, the post could be up for months before that applicant shows up but once they do, it is typically less than two weeks to an offer.

    4. Kittymommy*

      Same. Except for the most senior our positions all have end dates on when applications are accepted anything received in that time frame are considered and postings are not closed early.

    5. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      I don’t know if this is the case for the OP, but I’ve had too many responses of ‘the position has already been filled’. There could be a large number of companies who are disorganised, but my name gives away my minority-status, so that is probably an issue as well. At any rate, I try to apply to newer-looking posts since they’re more likely to be open, rather than waste my time crafting an application only to be told the position was already filled. (This is a general rule and not a guarantee of success, it’s just something I try to do.)

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Focusing most of your attention and energy on “newer-looking posts” sounds like an excellent idea, but…there’s a big difference between “newer-looking” and “not even a week old,” IMO. My feeling is, unless it’s something with fairly low criteria, if it’s filled in less than a week, chances are pretty good that they already knew who they were going to hire and were advertising only for form’s sake. In which case, it wouldn’t matter if you applied 22 minutes after it posted.

        I have only my own and my friends’ and family’s experiences to go by, but that experience very strongly suggests that many (and perhaps most) decent employers who are sincerely seeking to fill an open position will be accepting and looking at applications for longer than week – and often for much longer. YMMV, of course, but I still think it would be short-sighted for job seekers to restrict their applications to the degree the OP suggests.

    6. Karen from Finance*

      There’s a lot of (bad) job advice out there that tells you not to bother with job postings that have been up for a while because they probably won’t see your application, and that it’s super important to get to the “top of the pile” by sending your cv first.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I wonder if OP has reason to suspect there has been a second opening posted for a very similar but not the same position. Common with not-management positions — call centers come to mind.

    8. RandomU...*

      My last few rounds of hiring, it’s taken me at least 4 weeks to get a good enough pool of candidates to constitute a robust hiring process.

  2. Qwerty*

    I work in an industry where some jobs are just permanently posted. With software, there’s always a desire for more programmers, testers, etc, so if a really qualified person applies, we’ll likely hire them even if there is no specific opening. There’s always so much more work to do. When it shifts from “it would be nice to have another person” to “we need to replace Fergus” or “help, we’re drowning in work”, then we lower the bar to get someone more quickly. But by always hiring, usually we have enough people and aren’t in trouble if someone leaves and can ride it out until a good match comes along.

    1. Cait*

      Ditto. I’ve been with my company for over six years, and I’m pretty sure that the job posting I applied to is still up on the website. We’re literally always looking to hire entry- and mid-level engineers, partly because there is some natural turnover and partly because the company is growing.

    2. Justme, The OG*

      I’m looking at jobs at a local community college and some postings have been open since 2010 (part time instructor pool positions that are refreshed every fiscal year).

    3. I'm that person*

      I work in BioPharma and it’s the same in my department. The talent pool is limited and are always hiring high quality people.

      1. Princess prissypants*

        Apply. For. The. Damn. Job.

        It means there’s no point in stressing over this – or any of the other dumb what-ifs that job seekers stress over – when you’re just at the application stage. Apply and move on.

          1. Moonbeam Malone*

            On the one hand: kinda. On the other hand: I’m absolutely going to write this acronym on a sticky note and post it on my desk when I’m job-hunting.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, people rightfully worry about spending the time writing a cover letter, etc. if they’re not going to get serious consideration. So I can understand asking about it.

          1. Princess prissypants*

            But we don’t *ever* know if we’re getting serious consideration, and job seekers waste a lot of energy worrying about the “secret” or “hidden” tricks that will give them an edge, or about things that don’t matter *yet*, or in the case of the age of a job ad, at all. If one is qualified and interested, apply and worry about the details when the time comes.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Sure, and that’s partly my point to the OP — you can’t know from the outside what’s going on. But it’s reasonable to be concerned about spending a ton of time applying to a job that might not really be active anymore, especially if you don’t know the things I explained in the post about how the timing works. It’s not really a WTF that people think about that!

        2. Loose Seal*

          I looked at one the other day — registrar at a middle school (for students roughly aged 10 to 14 in the U.S.) — which was basically a low paid admin sort of role, requiring a high school diploma or GED. The application was huge and I had to manually type in everything from my resume. Plus, they wanted unofficial letters of recommendation (I don’t even know what those would be useful for) and unofficial transcripts (do they make transcripts for high school?). It was such a pain to complete, I just gave up in the middle. I may go back to it before it expires but it sure would be nice to have some confirmation that the job is truly open and not already promised to the nephew of the Superintendent of Schools or something before I go to the trouble of finishing the application and finding out if my high school does transcripts.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I was wondering the same thing! I’ve never actually heard of an “unofficial letter of recommendation.”

            2. Let's Bagel*

              Probably the fact that the applicant can submit it themselves instead of having to arrange for them to arrive via the recommender in a sealed envelope/some other mechanism that shows that the applicant didn’t see it, would be my guess.

              1. Heidi*

                That makes sense. When I was applying to grad school, I had to ask the people writing my LORs to send them to my school advisory committee. I had to ask 5 people to write letters. The committee would screen the letters, pick the best 3, make copies of them, put them in official school envelopes, then put a special embossed stamp across the envelope seal before giving them to me to mail with my applications. It’s all done by email now, thank goodness.

              2. Anonymity is my middle name*

                That’s what I figured too but I can’t see that they’d be useful to them. What applicant would send along one that listed off bad stuff about them?

                1. Loose Seal*

                  I don’t know how that name change happened. I haven’t used that anon login in weeks.

              3. just a random teacher*

                That’s what it would mean here. Every middle and high school teaching job I’ve applied to in my state has wanted 3 letters of recommendation that you submit yourself as part of your application (usually as a scanned pdf these days). At least for mine, there wasn’t an “official version” on file somewhere else, but they were generally on letterhead so if someone wanted to they could call the person providing the reference using that contact info.

                I have no idea if anyone has ever not gotten a job because of something in their letters, but I do know that after taking a break from teaching I had to scramble to get some new letters to apply again when I was looking for teaching jobs again since people outside education think the whole thing is deeply weird and have to be coached through writing the letters. I even had a teaching job application that wanted multiple references to fill in a district-specific form about you as part of the initial application! Bleh.

                Education jobs are weird.

            3. Language Lover*

              The requirements sound like they just copied the requirements from the openings for teachers and applied them to this position.

              I used to teach (a long time ago) and when we were looking for jobs after graduation, we could have people (prof/those who observed our student teaching) submit recommendations directly to our career services office. We also got copies of those letters so when we applied to jobs, we’d include them in our portfolio or application.

              If they elected to hire you, they could get the official copies from the university who would authenticate they hadn’t been tampered with. It’s similar to how transcripts work. The copies are unofficial but upon hire, some companies (definitely schools) will seek the official version from the registrar.

              The school is probably looking for letters from references who they’d want to hear directly from upon hire or hiring consideration. But yeah, it seems odd for a non-teaching position as the who LOR thing was very specific to teaching. I haven’t even seen it in academia in ages.

          1. iglwif*

            That seems like a lot of work for an entry-level job application! Also, what do you suppose makes a rec letter official or unofficial? As my teenager would say, that seems sus. And maybe “unofficial transcript” means, idk, they don’t care whether or not it has the final marks on it? Again, seems sus.

            Where I live now, and also where I grew up and went to high school, transcripts–like high school diplomas–are issued by the Ministry of Education. Requiring a transcript instead of, say, a photocopy of your diploma seems weird to me (the only reason I’ve ever had to request a transcript was for university applications, because university programs have a reason to care what courses you did and what marks you got), but if you do want to apply, maybe contact whatever the Min of Ed equivalent is in your (I’m assuming) state?

            1. Piano Girl*

              High school transcripts do exist. When I applied to the local university, they required that I submit them as proof that I had actually graduated from high school. I graduated over thirty years ago, had attended a well-known private university for two years, had already received an AA at the local community college, and was carrying a 3.5 grade average. Why? Because maybe I was lying about graduating. Sigh… I went on to graduate with honors and haven’t looked back.

              1. Loose Seal*

                Thanks for letting me know. I graduated over 30 years ago too. Luckily, my alma mater still exists so I can call them and see how I’m to get a transcript.

          2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            “and unofficial transcripts (do they make transcripts for high school?)”

            In most American states, yes. In fact, most states now require that high school academic records be kept for LONG periods of time – 50, 60, 100 years in some instances. Even “in perpetuity”.

            My father was an elementary school principal and in the early 1980s had to produce a transcript for someone who had attended the school in the 1930s – the man was in his sixties and needed the records for a job that required a security clearance.

            And in matters of parentage, proof of citizenship, etc. someone might have to go back that far.

          3. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            About 10-12 years ago I was thinking of going back to college (in my 40s) and one of the things I needed was my high school transcripts. I can’t remember if I got them online, or had to call the high school/school district, but I got them with no problem or hassle whatsoever.

          1. Iris Eyes*

            For a lot of people it is. Some people spend far too much time trying to perfect/optimize/analyze and absolutely need to be pushed in the pool on occasion. (Speaking as someone who has this tendency and was pushed in the literal pool no fewer than 6 times in one 24hr period)

            Kinda a “you miss all the shots you don’t take” but shorter and more to the point.

  3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    The other possibility is that it’s not actually the same job … either they need another member of the same team, or they hired someone who didn’t work out, or they decided not to fill and then thought better of it, or HR used the same description for another department.

    If you want it, apply. If they don’t want your resume, they can take down the posting. If it took you some time to prepare, then it was an excellent practice run.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      The other possibility is that it’s not actually the same job … either they need another member of the same team

      I’ve seen this happen so many times. In fact, my employer just did this because they were trying to hire two of me – they just took the “remote option” language off the posting once I was hired, meaning my counterpart will be based in the home office. And I’m not sure how long the original posting was up, but I do know it took them two to three weeks to contact me for a phone screen after I submitted my application in February. I forgot I even applied at that point, lol. I was offered the position the first week of April, started the second week of May, and the job posting was still up until a couple weeks ago in case my coworker declined the offer.

  4. Krickets*

    This post could not have come at a better time for me! I’m experiencing something similar right now where I applied for a manager position that was posted first, while a position that was a step above was listed a few days later, which I happened to also be mostly qualified for. I submitted an app for that as well and was informally informed that the role a step above would be on a different, possibly slower timeline. Sigh!

    But after reading this post I understand why.

  5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    A possible ask the readers topic to touch on again:
    Job search theories, legends, rumors, rules of thumb type of things. I’m interested in what “I was told you should always/never…”

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I second this! I’m always fascinated by this type of stuff, although that fascination can turn slightly into panic when I’m actively job searching (which thankfully I am not).

    2. Excel Slayer*

      Oh, yes, this would be really interesting! (And I’d really want to add a bunch of idiotic things I did when applying for jobs as a teenager/young adult because That’s How You Get a Job According To My Dad)

  6. Llama Face!*

    Looking at it from another angle, I can see where a job that’s been posted for a long time or repeatedly re-posted could be a warning sign that there is something iffy about that position or employer. However that’s at best a yellow flag since there could be legimate reasons for either case. I agree with Alison that trying to limit yourself to week old job posts is not the best choice (or really possible).

    Wishing you best of luck in your job search!

    1. Anax*

      Honestly, I see technical jobs reposted a LOT, especially for nonprofits and government work. It can be tricky to find someone with very specific qualifications and experience, especially because those organizations generally pay less.

      In my industry, that doesn’t even feel like a yellow flag, unless it’s a very basic, entry-level position which shouldn’t be hard to fill.

      Apply for older positions, LW!

      1. Brownie*

        Seconding the government work job reposts. In the last 3 years I’ve seen so many gov technical jobs, even entry-level, posted and reposted over and over because it’s so hard to get people to relocate to where I’m at. Add in rules which say that there must be a minimum of X number of qualified applicants before any resumes can be considered and sometimes a job posting may be up for 4 months without being updated or reposted because no one is applying. LW, if the job ad is still up on the employer’s site then apply and don’t worry about how long the post has been up for.

    2. cmcinnyc*

      There’s an admin job at a major theater producer that is posted about twice a year. It’s low pay, poor benefits, with a famously tyrannical boss who flies off the handle. The lucky ones make it a year and leverage it into something better. The unlucky ones snap and go screaming into the night… and the job posts again.

      I only know this because I’m connected to the industry, I’m in the same city, and my network gets the skinny. So yes, it’s a yellow flag, but it’s worth asking around to find out if it’s really a red or a green.

      The old Miramax office was always hiring EAs. A contact of mine I reached out to years ago about it actually responded, “I *forbid* you to apply for that job!” No, he’s not my dad. But it was heartfelt and I’m very glad I took his advice!

    3. Errol*

      Sometimes very true! About 6 months ago I applied for a job and was offered it and turned it down. On Indeed they have a 4 star rating, but all the reviews seemed to be a variation of the exact same phrases.

      Went to the interview and everyone looked miserable. No one spoke to each other, not even looked up. No one smiled or spoke at all the entire time I was there. No personal items on desks, not even a pen and paper, no head phones or music and deathly silent there. So far I know they’ve offered it to two people who’ve all turned it down for the same reason (they knew I interviewed too so we were chatting about it) but it keeps getting re-posted every two months.

      But that is not always the case as mentioned above!

    4. Ann O’Nemity*

      There’s one local company that is always posting and reposting ALL sorts of positions. Entry-level thru VPs. It’s been going on for years. Seems sketchy.

      On the other hand, some companies always have some positions open, e.g. sales or technical. I’ve heard IT managers say that they’re always looking for good tech talent.

  7. Anne_Not_Carrot*

    This is interesting because the TalentWorks data that was recently published shows that your odds are increased by 65% if you apply in the first week a job is published. So, maybe there is more of a bias than people realize?

      1. Anne_Not_Carrot*

        Yeah, I should have said “if their data is at all correct” because I didn’t know much about their methods. Good to know!

      2. Kathleen_A*

        Yes, and even if true…well, what exactly does that mean in practical terms? Obviously a “65 percent increase” in the odds would be great, but it’s not everything. That still leaves a lot of room for other possibilities. If you’re interested in the job, apply. If you’re not, don’t. To me it honestly seems that simple.

    1. Me*

      I’d be more inclined to think there’s bias in the study. There’s a reason scientific ones have to be reproducible. Social science type studies are especially tricky because the way you ask questions, the options to answer you give, etc, can easily result in skewed results. Answers like always, sometimes, maybe aren’t great because they mean different things to different people. There should always be an option to not answer as well. Over simplification but I always point out to people that words have meaning and sometimes meaning is different to different people.

      Today I saw a poll that asked if you parked on or outside the lines of a parking space…the options given to answer were: a) all the time, b) sometimes if I have to, c) never , and a 4th option I can’t remember. Well, my real answer would be sometimes because I sometimes suck at parking…which is not an option. None of the given option fits.

      I’m blathering, but I’d want to see exactly how their results and data points were gathered before I gave it any weight.

      1. spock*

        Agreed for sure, and along with that, I really doubt they’re controlling for all the relevant factors. Like, if the majority of applicants happen to apply within the first week, then of course it’s more likely the person hired will have applied in the first week. It doesn’t mean that had anything to do with it though.

    2. Heidi*

      A quick gander at their website shows a lot of these “tips,” like applying on Mondays increases your chances, applying before 10am increases your chances, never using pronouns increases your chances. A lot of it sounds a bit gimmicky. Plus doing all of this would create some painful Monday mornings for hiring managers.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        I know for a fact no one here rushes in to download all the first-thing-Monday-morning resumes. Grain ‘o salt.

      2. Nanani*

        Even if these were true in a given field or specific company, do you -really- want a job where people care more about correctly standing on one foot while singing folk songs than about your actual skill at the actual job?

        Guessing not, so filter the zany mind-reading expectations by not trying to read minds.

        1. Dasein9*

          I sometimes stand on one foot in my voice lessons and can attest that this skill has never aided me professionally.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Assuming a given job has 100 applicants, your general odds of getting it would be 1%. Increase that by 65%, to 1.65% and I’m still not that excited.

      1. Heidi*

        I guess they figured increasing your chances by 0.65% wouldn’t sound as exciting. I also think that for this particular number, TalentWorks is claiming that you have a 65% higher chance of getting an interview, not getting the job itself. I like to imagine that sites like these are put together by people who were once legit at math, but decided to use their powers for evil instead. Like the math equivalent of Saruman the White.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I imagine it’s like those scary sounding health stories, like “eating your muesli with milk instead of yogurt triples your risk of cancer”, only the risk was so miniscule as to be barely measurable and the study conditions only apply to one specific type of uranium-enriched milk and an extremely rare type of cancer. So yes, it technically does what the headline claims, but it hardly makes any difference in reality.

      3. PepperVL*

        I was going to say exactly that. It very well may increase your chances by 65%, but that means nothing. I bet many people read that and think “I have a 65%chance of getting the job if I apply in the first week,” when it usually means that your chances increase from miniscule to slightly more than miniscule.

  8. Cordoba*

    The longer the job has been open the harder time an employer is having filling it, which means they may be more desperate and willing to align on things like pay, duties, and benefits.

    This isn’t always the case, as maybe the job is still open because their pay is low and they’re not willing to budge. But generally I’ve found well-aged job postings to be the best and most lucrative when you do get the job.

    In the case of my last employer change they had been looking for 6 months, and by the time we started talking they were happy to agree to just about anything to get a qualified candidate. Taking advantage of a large organization’s pain is a valid negotiating strategy.

    1. Kathleen_A*

      I think it just really, really, really, REALLY varies, depending on the employer, the job and – for all I know – the tides. Or the alignment of the planets. Or, to get serious again, things like a sudden illness of the hiring manager or uncertainty over a major budget consideration.

      There are so many factors that could come into play that I just don’t see how a rule like “Only apply for jobs that have been posted for a week or less” will pay off for most applicants except under some fairly unusual circumstances, and you’ll never know about those circumstances from the outside.

    2. SusanIvanova*

      In the top tech companies, where it can take six months or more for a new hire to become fully productive, there’s no benefit to rushing it and then having to do it all over again if they don’t work out. I’ve been on teams where we’d rather lose the rec entirely than hire someone who didn’t meet our standards.

    3. Samwise*

      Higher ed and state employee jobs: the ripeness of the ad tells you very little. Often there’s a preferred deadline but the dept will keep reviewing until a candidate signs the paperwork and HR has blessed it. For our dept, the advantage to that is that if we don’t hire anyone (because no one we interview is acceptable, or because no one we want accepts our offer, for instance), we can go back into the applicant pool and continue the search. Whereas if we close the search and then have to reopen it after a certain amount of time, it’s a new search and we have to go thru the excruciating hoohah that is starting a search at a public university.

  9. Spreadsheets and Books*

    If you’re a good candidate, you’re a good candidate.

    My current job listing was up for a while when I applied and I even dawdled on applying due to a potential connection that could have maybe resulted in word getting back to my current employer. I got contacted two days later and was absolutely rocketed through the interview process because I was a great fit.

    1. But Make It Data*

      For my current job listing I actually waited past the company deadline to apply. I was getting together my cover letter and resume, and all of the sudden the posting was off their job portal. So I ended up email my current supervisor (who has posted about the position in a listserv) to ask them to post the job again so that I could finish the application. Lo and behold, it seems I was the best candidate!

  10. Lily Rowan*

    One of my best recent hires was someone whose application came in when I was deep into the process. I put it aside because I was basically down to finalists and I wanted to get it done! The search ended up failing (I decided one finalist wasn’t actually right for the job and the other turned it down), so I went back to this random application I had set aside and ended up hiring that person!

    In short: you literally never know what’s going on on the other end.

    1. JJ Bittenbinder*

      you literally never know what’s going on on the other end.

      I wish there was some huge banner that popped up with this on every single job site.

      I get so sick of reading “data” about applying on a Tuesday before 11, or within the first 5 days of a job being posted [unless that’s a Wednesday, in which case you’re screwed], or through the employer’s site but never through Indeed, or…or…or…

      And then if someone DOES get an interview, the stuff about If they nod and smile while you’re answering, it means X. If they say, ‘We have other candidates to interview, but we’ll be in touch’, it means Y. Call them once, but only on a Thursday after 2PM Central…

      I’ve actually stopped reading every job site but this one as a result of getting way too annoyed by the voodoo I read everywhere.

  11. Heidi*

    I guess the OP is assuming that the best jobs will have so many applicants that they will be filled within a week and the jobs that don’t get filled quickly must have something wrong with them. One week is way too short of an interval for any of that to be certain. Job postings aren’t like produce at the grocery store. It takes a while for people to find what they’re looking for on both sides. I wouldn’t want to miss out on a great job opportunity because it didn’t follow a completely arbitrary rule I set for myself.

    1. Ama*

      When I first applied to my current employer the position I applied for had been open for two months because it was a very unusual role that was half writing and half grant administration and it was very hard to find someone who could handle both parts (in fact my immediate predecessor resigned after nine months because she had more admin experience and decided she hated having to write as much as the role required). Then here I came, with several years of academic administration experience but looking for a position that would allow me to use my educational background in writing more heavily.

      My hiring manager told me later that they couldn’t believe their luck when I applied and I told her that was exactly how I felt when I saw the positing.

      1. Heidi*

        Isn’t it amazing when you are, in fact, the unicorn they’ve been searching for? This made me happy.

        1. PepperVL*

          Yes. I had a similar experience with my current job. They had been searching for someone with my background and interests for months and I had been working on getting IT certifications. They pounced on me as soon as they found me, and it’s been a great fit on both sides. But they were looking for a long time before we found each other.

  12. Loose Seal*

    Rather than the age of the posting, I’d like to know if there’s a way to tell if they are just posting an ad for form’s sake when they’ve already chosen an internal candidate. I feel I’ve wasted so much time crafting materials specific to the posting when they were never planning to look at them anyway.

      1. Samwise*

        And even, then, Alison, it doesn’t mean the internal candidate is going to get the job. I’ve been on a search committee where the posting was written for a particular person, but then that person was so half-assed about the process (attitude seemed to be, I’m a shoo-in, I don’t need to take this seriously — it was borderline insulting) that they did not make the list of finalists. LOL, big big shock to the “shoo-in”. Or the internal candidate withdraws or turns down the offer.

        1. Lils*

          Plus even if the committee is sure they’ve got a good internal candidate, an unexpected candidate could arrive and wow them. If you’re interested, apply. A good organization will at least consider any strong candidate. We always tell internal candidates there’s no guarantee–we want the best person in the job, regardless.

    1. Ann O’Nemity*

      My old employer (university) required that all positions be open to external candidates. However, if they wanted to hire internally, they’d bury the job posting on their own job board and not pay to advertise it on other sites. That way, they followed the policy but cut down on the number of external applicants substantially.

    2. LJay*

      If it lists a closing time and it’s really shortly after the posting time.

      I worked somewhere where everything had to be posted externally for 3 days. So if we had an internal candidate it was 3 days and that’s it. Anything else was posted for a much longer time period – a couple of weeks at least.

  13. irene adler*

    Good topic!

    My ** assumption ** regarding job posts is that web sites are not kept up to date. So I watch the company website and only apply to something I know has been newly posted.
    So apparently I’m not only missing out on job opportunities, I’m a weak candidate to boot for applying right away.

    1. ZSD*

      No, Alison didn’t say that anyone who applies early is a weak candidate. She just said that there tends to be a correlation.

    2. Anonym*

      Nah, you’re just exactly the candidate you are (relative to each role) who’s now better informed, with a wider swath of potential positions to apply to. :)

  14. ES*

    A few years ago I had a job open that should have been easy to fill. But my pool after three weeks was not impressive. I interviewed a few, and one in that mix would have been satisfactory. Nothing else was coming in as I waited about a week, and I was getting ready to make an offer when an intriguing resume came in.

    The “late” applicant ended up being a perfect fit, nailing the assessments we do and having an excellent professional background. I hired her and she has been a rockstar, winning multiple promotions in four years and taking on a substantial portfolio of new work.

    So yes, apply whenever the job is up. You’ll never know what the pool looks like or how the hiring manager is reacting to it.

    1. Knitter*

      I’ve been that candidate… When applying for my current job and one other previous job, I was told a finalist was already selected. But then was later interviewed and hired.

  15. Mrs_helm*

    Perhaps they are wanting to rule out positions they may have already applied for? Many job listings don’t tell you who the employer is, so if you’re wanting to apply to all the Teapot Designer jobs that open up, but not ones you may have applied to last week, I could understand this logic.

    A lot of job boards have things where you could sign up to be notified of jobs in your search parameters, so that can help.

    But it can also fail for reasons AAM identified (being reposted, posted elsewhere, etc).

    I’ve worked with tech recruiters before, along with applying online, and accidentally applied on MajorJobBoard to the same job my recruiter was sending me to. The online posting didn’t look the same as what he sent me. So they got my resume twice. Meh?

    You just try your best and take your chances.

  16. ThatGirl*

    Anecdotally, I applied for an internal job a few days after it was posted. I was interviewed the following week. That was four weeks ago, and a decision has not been made yet. I know people who applied after me got interviewed for it. We do sometimes leave postings up a little longer than necessary, but if it’s within 2-3 weeks you’re almost certainly fine.

  17. Jennifer*

    I think it depends on the types of jobs you’re applying for. If you are looking for an entry-level position, in my experience, they start calling people back pretty quickly because those roles aren’t that difficult to fill. I got in the habit then of trying to apply for jobs early. I’ve also read as someone said above, that you are more likely to get a response if you apply early.

    I have tended to stay away from job postings more than 30 days old. I’ve seen some that were six months old which seemed odd to me. But based on Alison’s advice, next time I’m job-hunting, maybe I’ll apply. I have nothing to lose.

  18. Boop*

    If it asks for mimeograph skills, it’s too old. Otherwise, just apply. Worst that can happen is you get a message saying it’s been filled.

  19. Silver Fig*

    My industry is big on temp-to-hire, so often jobs are posted and re-posted through different agencies with slightly varying descriptions. Avoiding very old postings keeps me from wasting my time applying to the same things over and over.

  20. Anita Brayke*

    Very good point! I had not thought of that angle, and I’m now inspired to apply for older jobs (I decided to start a search today)! Thank you!

  21. His Grace*

    Consider applying if you like the job, and seems to mesh with your career goals. If you get an interview, you can ask how long the position has been open and why it’s open. Best of luck.

  22. Allison*

    If you’re interested in a job, apply to it. If application is crazy complex and involves filling out tons of forms and writing way more than a cover letter, then you can decide if it’s really worth it, but for jobs where it’s “fill out this short form and then upload your resume,” please, just do that. It’s not like you’ll be fined or penalized somehow for applying to a job you don’t get, this isn’t the SAT’s! Take a chance and apply!

    Please stop messaging seemingly junior/admin-ish members of the talent acquisition team with “I’m interested in this job, but I’m not sure if I should apply, can you take a look at my profile to see if I’m qualified, and then I have some questions so maybe we can chat on the phone sometime this week?” nonsense. Just APPLY to the dang job! And if you do send these messages, please don’t send a followup THE NEXT DAY. And for the love of God, if you don’t actually know the person you’re messaging, don’t message them on behalf of other people you know who are interested in the company. It’s not my job to help you get hired, random lady on LinkedIn!

    1. Allison*

      Also, if you apply and the job is close to being full or you’re just not quite what they’re looking for for that job, they might contact you in a month or so about another role that just opened that you are good for! So just send them your info!

    2. Clementine*

      I have to agree, although I’m not in your position. Obviously the odds of success are low on a numerical basis in almost all cases, but no one can prejudge that for you. I know some people say they literally spend one day per application. Figure out how to streamline that, especially for “iffy” jobs. I know certain academic and other jobs can require a full day or much more to properly apply to, but that’s not the case for most entry-level or mid-level corporate jobs.

  23. iglwif*

    I think this can vary so widely along so many axes that it’s kind of not a useful question to ask. If a posting has been up for a long time (and how does one define “a long time”? that too varies by industry, job type, company size, etc.), then
    – maybe the position is really hard to fill, or
    – maybe it has been filled but nobody has taken the posting down yet, or
    – maybe they are hiring more than one person, or
    – maybe they are bad at hiring and you don’t want to work there, or
    – maybe the hiring manager had something terrible happen out of the blue and this has slowed the process down, or
    – maybe the hiring manager and their boss and grandboss are negotiating about the salary range or hire date or other details, or
    – maybe the job was offered to someone who ended up not taking it and now they’re glad they forgot to take the posting down, or
    – maybe an internal candidate wasn’t as strong as they expected, or
    – any of literally hundreds of other possibilities.

    Obviously applying for a job takes time and effort and you don’t want to waste your time or go to a lot of trouble for nothing, but the idea that there’s ANY objective and universally applicable cut-off where it’s “too late to apply” seems … untenable? And a week would definitely be too short a cut-off.

  24. Elizabeth Proctor*

    My husband just started a job that had been posted for 23 or more days, so it is possible!

  25. Michael Valentine*

    My nonprofit right now has two job postings that might look stale depending on where you found it. We reposted them officially in May after six months. One of them is for a job we are always hiring for. The other is for a position we’re having trouble filling. We are a specialty niche with a relatively narrow pipeline…I think low unemployment is affecting our competitiveness–if they are also searching in the for-profit sector, those jobs often pay 100% more (or even more!). Anyway, if you applied to that job, even months after posting, we’d still consider you!

  26. Another HR manager*

    I am very interested in the candidates that come in after a week or two. Often those first candidates — that rush their applications in — are not interested in our company/industry and haven’t taken the time to craft a cover letter that addresses our particular job opening (which always stands out and moves an application to the top of the pile).

  27. Roja*

    I suppose the other half of this question is, should you wait a while before you apply? I just applied for a job last week several hours after it was posted (and have heard back, because I am actually a qualified candidate). But if most people who respond fast aren’t worth looking at, should I wait a few days?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Just get it in. But if you need a day to do a good application/resume, feel free to take it, I guess.

      1. Anonym*

        Yep, your fitness as a candidate (and the effort you put in to application materials) aren’t affected by you applying early in the batch! No causation there, not to worry.

    2. NW Mossy*

      Go ahead and apply. If someone dings you for being too eager/forward in expressing your interest in the job for which they are actively soliciting candidates, congratulations – you just avoided a badly run organization!

    3. Kindly One*

      I’ve been involved in hiring (not as HR) in several organizations over the years, and I’ve never had any way of knowing when, exactly, a candidate submitted their application.
      Even if I wanted to care about when they submitted (which would be silly), I’d have no way of knowing.

  28. IV*

    The position I have now was open, and actively being recruited, for EIGHT MONTHS before I was hired. They’re picky and have low turnover as a result. It’s an amazing place to work and I’m very happy here. Also, the interview process was ENDLESS, OMG.

  29. Elizabeth West*

    I got an interview once last minute—I had the same exact reasoning as the OP, but this time I just threw caution to the wind and submitted my resume the same day as the post’s deadline. The hiring manager called and asked if I would come in. I didn’t end up getting the job, but it’s worth tossing your hat in the ring anyway. I mean, I COULD have gotten it!

    I don’t regret trying.

  30. Me in PNW*

    I know of 3 recent hires – 2 at leadership levels and 1 at entry level – where the person who got the job didn’t even apply for the job until finalists had been identified (and found lacking).

    In the current job market, there are no guarantees until there’s a butt in a seat.

    Apply for the job, even if it’s after the deadline. You never know!

  31. Jeanne*

    Clearly there’s an interesting difference between countries in this case. Here (New Zealand) jobs are usually listed with a closing date and your application has to be in by that date. If the employer doesn’t find someone suitable in the applicants, the job will be re-listed with a new closing date.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, usually no closing dates here in the US unless it’s nonprofit or government.

    2. londonedit*

      Same here. Job adverts usually – I’d say at least 9 times out of 10 – come with a closing date for applications. Occasionally I’ll see a line saying ‘Early applications will be prioritised’ but the vast majority of the time, as long as you get your application in by the closing date, everything will be given equal consideration.

      In fact, I got my current job despite only seeing the advert at the last minute – it was through an external recruitment agency, and I spoke to them on the closing date itself. They then had to check with the company to see whether they’d accept my application after the closing date (because I needed the evening to put all the materials together), the company agreed, and lo and behold I had a call the next day inviting me for an interview. So in my experience, it really doesn’t matter whether you’re first or last to apply.

  32. Blue Horizon*

    It depends. Sometimes the company’s own Web site is the most reliable if they run their recruiting through it, but it can also be the least reliable. A company that mostly uses job boards and/or recruiters and is just putting it on their Web site for completeness will quite often forget to remove it after the fact, and they end up littered with old or irrelevant listings.

    There isn’t always much you can do as a one-off,* but if you’re interested in the company during a longer term search then you can bookmark the listings and check them periodically. See if new ones appear and/or older ones ever get removed. Also see if they are listed anywhere else, and compare how current they appear.

    * Although if it’s using frames and plain black on white/gray background, has blinking text for highlights, and wants skills in Informix, Lotus Notes, Delphi and Visual Basic 6.0, that’s a clue.

  33. Traveling Nerd*

    OP: My current employer is hiring 30 Software Engineers this year — our job posting has been up for quite a while, but that’s because we have so many openings! Many companies may be hiring for multiple of any given job role, so while the posting may be old, it’s not “filled.”

  34. MissDisplaced*

    I sort of see where OP is coming from, though I think one week is too quick to rule something out. In my experience, the first 3 weeks or so is the sweet spot. When they get to the 30 day mark, they can become stale, as some companies won’t take them down and/or they renew even if they’ve been interviewing or they made offers. Or, as the case with my ExJob, the HR person never removed jobs they had no budget for, and probably never would hire for. Why? IDK.

    But as noted by others, some fields just have constant needs for certain roles and run ads continuously.

  35. Anonymous Educator*

    This is just anecdata, but I applied to a job immediately when it was posted a month and a half ago. They interviewed me shortly afterwards and have checked in with me every week since to let me know they’re still interviewing candidates. The most recent check-in said they won’t have a decision for a few more weeks. Another job I applied to also interviewed me almost immediately and told me they expect the hiring timeline to extend through the end of July. It’s also worth noting that on sites like LinkedIn, for example, a job may say it was posted “1 day ago,” but that’s just a bumped up posting that was actually on there a while ago the first time.

    I kind of selfishly wish they just considered the first applicants, because I’m usually quite fast on the applying, but I’m also glad they are being as thoughtful as they can in their hiring (most of the places I’ve applied to).

  36. SezU*

    That’s a great point that a lot of the first group of resumes a hiring manager receives are resume bombers. It definitely would be in a hiring managers best interest to not cut off the review at the first 50 (which I have actually seen in postings: “limited to first 50 (or 100) applicants”) especially if it’s something that requires specific skills!

  37. Free Meerkats*

    In the government hiring world, unless we’re recruiting continuously for something like experienced police officer, our announcements have date posted and date closed. Typically, applications aren’t even looked at until after the closing date. There’s no advantage to applying early and no penalty for applying late in the window.
    But the closing date and time are hard numbers; if it closes Grune 32nd at 5 PM and your application is submitted at 5:00:01, it’s automatically rejected.

  38. Fisharenotfriends*

    I mean, to take the question literally, if you hit F12 and then control F, and type ‘date’, you can see when the page was last updated. Might be useful, one way or another, to check when job pages were last updated.

  39. Rez123*

    It’s so annoying when the dates are unclear. I’ve come across jobs that have been on the site for several months, but can elsewhere be expired. Also, I’d like to know if it’s the same job I applied last week or if there is another opening. There is one interesting position that is 4 months old. It’s one of those really long applications, so I don’t want to waste time if it’s old. The timestamp would really help with that. I’ve noticed that expiry date is not something companies like to put in their listings (ah. the good old days when this still occured). That would also indicate if the posting is old.

  40. LJay*

    If it lists a closing time and it’s really shortly after the posting time.

    I worked somewhere where everything had to be posted externally for 3 days. So if we had an internal candidate it was 3 days and that’s it. Anything else was posted for a much longer time period – a couple of weeks at least.

    1. LJay*

      Meant this to be a response to a comment asking whether you could tell if there was a waiting period, not as a standalone response to the OP.

  41. akiwiinlondon*

    I’d assume if the job is still up on job boards they’re still taking on applications.
    Yes, some companies are going to be a bit slack any might forget to take something down, or perhaps they’re being cautious and don’t remove it until that candidate in the pipeline has accepted the job – which makes sense, if it’s rejected they want a pipeline of applicants to fall back to.

    I’d usually asses how much effort I want to put into an application based on how long it’s up, especially on job-boards I’d expect them to ‘refresh’ the listing (we’ve done this on linkedin ourselves when struggling to fill a roll) if they’re really in need to candidates so if it looks like a new listing I might put in more effort.

    It’s just one of the points I’d weigh up when looking at how much I’m willing to put into an application, such as if there is a complicated process, or how much work I want to put into writing vs tweaking a cover letter. Of course if the role was fantastic sounding I’d probably still put in lots of effort as that would out-weigh the old posting part.

    I wouldn’t discount older posting entirely as Alison noted you have no idea what the process they’re working through is.

  42. facepalm*

    Last week I applied for a job listing that showed up on Indeed and LinkedIn as more than 30 days old. It wasn’t even on the company’s website, but I figured what the heck and applied through LinkedIn anyway since it was such a good fit and I matched a very odd combination of requirements. In no way am I exaggerating: exactly 30 minutes after I applied, I had an email asking for a phone call. A day after the phone screen, I had an interview, and 3 hours after that I had an offer.

    I was extremely discouraged by how old the ad was and especially that it wasn’t listed on their website (anymore), but in my case, they’d been looking to fill the role for quite some time and jumped at the chance to hire me. So what I thought I knew about job hunting was inaccurate in this case.

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