is it possible to apply for a job too quickly?

A reader writes:

I see a lot of questions about when it could be too late to apply, but very little about it being too early. I’m curious about your thoughts on applications that come in the same day the job was posted, sometimes even within one to two hours.

For true entry-level positions, this has never seemed weird to me. But right now we are hiring a co-executive director at a nonprofit (I’m the other Co) and we got 13 applications in after four hours! The majority are obvious duds, just people throwing their resumes out there with little thought and are obviously not qualified. But because our postings focus on applicants’ ability to demonstrate their skill rather than traditional degrees/years’ experience, we get more applications in general. This has been great as our best-performing staff all have non-traditional backgrounds that wouldn’t have made it through screening if we had required a bachelor’s degree or X years’ experience that most similar roles require. Some of the same-day applicants we got have backgrounds that don’t scream executive director, but I could see giving them the actual skills needed to do the job. But it just bothers me that they came in two hours after posting!

To me, it says that they didn’t take the time to really research our nonprofit, to deeply consider the position which has some unusual job duties for an executive position, and to really tailor their cover letter and resume. Looking at the applications, that does seem to hold true. All the cover letters seem pretty copy-and-paste without demonstrating a true knowledge of where our org has been/is going.

Anyway, just wondering your thoughts on immediate applications. The rest of my hiring committee doesn’t see it as a red flag and said they didn’t see the need for the application date on the tracking sheet I made for them. But it raised suspicions for me and though I haven’t ever discriminated against someone for that, it does make me push just that bit harder in screening, interviewing and reference checking to make sure I’m not wasting my time on someone who is just desperate and good at hiding it or who likes the idea of the title and raise but hasn’t fully thought out what the role really means. Especially for such a high level role! A hiring mistake here could be absolutely devastating as this person is one of the public faces of the org. The right person has to have the skills AND be 110% committed to this job, lifestyle, and public scrutiny!

It’s reasonable to expect candidates to do that kind of research on your organization once they’re invited to interview (or maybe even slightly further into the process, like after they’ve passed the phone interview stage) but it’s not reasonable to expect them to do it just to send in an application.

The vast, vast majority of job applications end in a rejection at the resume-screening stage; they don’t even result in being asked to interview. So it’s not realistic to expect people to put in the kind of time you’re describing that early on. Some of your best candidates will do it anyway, it’s true — but not all of them, and you shouldn’t penalize people who don’t. Later on in your process, yes, absolutely — you want people who are really investigating the organization and the opportunity, especially for a high level position like executive director. But the initial application is just about providing some basic introductory info (roughly equivalent to the amount you’re probably providing about the organization and the job) so you can see if it makes sense to talk further. No one should have to invest substantial time until you’ve taken that initial look and determined that yes, you’re interested in talking more.

Now, all that said … my experience with the applications that come in on the first day a job is posted is that they’re mostly people who are resume-bombing, just applying to everything they see, whereas the strongest candidates tend to come in later in the process because they’re being more selective and even leisurely in their search. (This is just a general pattern though, and there are plenty of exceptions.) So yeah, you’re going to get a lot of obvious no’s on that first day. But you could also easily have a highly qualified and selective candidate who just happened to sit down to look at job postings right after you posted yours, and sent off their materials immediately.

So the early application isn’t a red flag in itself; you’re just getting all the “applying for every new job I see, even if it’s not a match” people in that mix and need to sift them out.

{ 222 comments… read them below }

  1. Database Developer Dude*

    On top of everything Alison said, there’s no way from looking at the advertisement to tell how long the ad’s been posted for. Unless you put dates in the ad, I could look at it and think it was from 3 weeks ago, or from last week, or from today. Stop making assumptions.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To be fair to the OP, she’s not saying that’s the issue — she’s saying that they can’t have put much thought or effort into it if the ad has only been up for a few hours. I disagree with that approach for the reasons in the post, but it’s not about people knowing/not knowing how long it’s been posted.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        Yes, but let’s say the ad went up at noon and the person sat down at 1, saw it and submitted the application at 4pm. That’s 4 hours – but the person put 3 hours into the application. It just so happens its the first 4 hours that the ad was even up. That was my immediate thought and what I think DDD was saying.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          That’s how I read it, too. If someone put 1-3 hours of research work into an application before sending it, I would say they’ve done a good amount of work at this stage. That is something that may be clear from the cover letter: seeing which ones are different from the cut-and-paste versions.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            No, Alison, you weren’t wrong, but here’s the thing: the OP is looking cross-eyed at those who apply too quickly…..across the board. And TooTiredToThink and Escapee from Corporate Management articulated very well WHY that’s a problem.

            If I see a job ad, how am I going to KNOW that it was just posted an hour ago and I should wait to appply it. Granted, I haven’t been searching for a job for the last six and a half years (thank you, Booz Allen Hamilton!), but when I was unemployed, finding a job was my full-time job, and it’s not out of the ordinary to think I’d discover a just-posted job….

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t want to belabor this, but the OP doesn’t take issue with whether to not someone knows an ad is recent. She takes issue with people not spending enough time on their application, which she figures has to be the case if they only saw the ad in the last few hours. (Again, I disagree with that, just clarifying what her concern is.)

              1. goducks*

                I think I’m struggling to understand this thinking. If a job was posted Monday, and I didn’t see it until Thursday, and spent 30 minutes submitting my application, she’d be fine with it? Because she can tell herself that I spent 15 hours researching and putting my materials together? If my application was identical whether submitted Monday or Thursday, and she was interested on Thursday but not Monday because of her perception of what I’d spent those days doing, she’s potentially missing good candidates.

                1. Rex Jacobus*

                  Wow. I just wrote the same answer USING THE SAME DAYS IN THE EXAMPLE?!? Are we the same person?

                2. Ego Chamber*

                  Confirmation bias: LW got sub-par resumes quickly and assumes it’s because those people didn’t put enough work into their applications. Just as likely she got resumes from people who tend to resume-bomb and don’t put enough work into any of their applications and she’s fixating on a pattern where there isn’t one (it would be a super time-saver if you could delete all the applications that came in within x-number of hours or days of posting the job).

              2. Database Developer Dude*

                Alison, I think we’re saying the exact same thing here. The only difference is you’re giving the OP the benefit of the doubt that she’s actually looking at the early-submitted resumes to make that call, and I’m not. I’m insisting she’s using the time of submission as the sole criteria to toss resumes.

            2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              And to add to a comment I saw – just because someone applies in the first several hours – yes, he or she might be desperate – read DDD’s comment about being unemployed and finding a job being a full-time job – it doesn’t mean they’re not qualified or are throwing a “gumption application” in the queue.

              Also – if you’re one of the first applicants – your hiring person will be reviewing one, or two, or three resumes and thus is able to give it more time.

              And if you’re qualified and they need someone right away, they might just terminate the application process and deal with a limited stack of applications. A lame brained manager might say “oh he applied too early! He mustn’t have given this much thought! TOSS!” and that may very well have been the best available person he or she will see. Hiring managers also have quirky behavior – during my period of unemployment 30 years ago, I did interview with some clowns who were out to waste my time and their own time.

        2. Bee*

          By the same token, people are going to want to get their application in as quickly as possible after they see it in case you’re in the tail end of your screening period and it’s about to close. One of my friends actually saw a job listing close the day she was sitting down to apply because they’d received something like 300 applications in 48 hours!

          1. Another freelancer*

            I am currently job-searching and have seen similar volumes for job applications. It’s crazy! I rarely bother with applying for a job that was posted more than a week ago. And yeah, if someone is unemployed, they will apply to jobs as they become available without much delay.

        3. Archaeopteryx*

          Yeah, I probably look at job postings for at least half an hour and look at the company on glass door in that time in order to see whether it somewhere I might be interested in applying, but you can’t really tell more than that at the basic application phase. And if I sit down to do a little job searching at 1 o’clock and the posting just happens to have gone up at noon, there’s no way I could or should have been able to know that and arbitrarily wait.

      2. Rex Jacobus*

        I agree with DD Dude.
        When I had a job but was starting to look around I chose one day a week to scan the ads and send out resumes.
        So if my day to job search is every Thursday and this ad came out Monday morning I would have tweaked my resume and sent it in and all would be good. But if the ad had come out Thursday morning I would have done the same thing and now there is a red flag on my application? With no way of knowing because all I know is that the ad came out since the last time I looked?

  2. AdAgencyChick*

    I wouldn’t take the time the application came in as a red flag to grill them at the interview stage. But I sure would expect that the pile that comes in the first day is going to have a higher percentage of resume-bombers than not, and weed the pile accordingly.

    If you do get a thoughtfully crafted cover letter on day one, take it as a happy surprise and interview that person for sure! Maybe they had the day off when they saw your posting and therefore had time to craft a solid response the same day.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Or maybe they were already interested in your organization and were ready to move when you posted the job opening was posted. It’s relatively easy nowadays to set up flags on your device to alert the user to this type of opportunity.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Exactly. There’s a company I’ve been following since 2016, I use two of their products and know a lot about them. I am alerted to every vacancy they have. It wouldn’t take me long to put a decent application together.

      2. PeanutButter*

        Yup. I did this when I was getting ready to graduate with a health care certificate a number of years back- I knew which hospital I wanted to work at and for the last month or so of my schooling I had alerts sent to me about job openings, and had my resume/cover letter/application information all ready to go.

    2. Sleepytime Tea*

      I agree that you might get a higher percentage of resume bombers, but at the same time, when I’m job hunting I’m checking new postings on a daily basis. There’s nothing I hate more than wasting time applying to a job that has been up for 5 months because someone forgot to take it down, or they aren’t actually hiring any time soon and decided to just put it out there to start the resume pool, or whatever. I set up alerts for companies I’m interested in so I also frequently do already know about the organization and don’t need to spend tons of time researching prior to applying. I mean, how long does that take anyways? If I get an alert that a matching job comes up for an organization in my town that I’m familiar with already, I will take the time to read it and determine if I’m a fit (maybe… a half hour?), do a little research on the company website and recent press releases (*maybe* and hour if there’s a lot going on), and then I’m going to take my trusty cover letter and tweak it to fit the role and organization (also maybe another hour). When in serious job hunting mode, yep, I’ve applied within 4 hours of a job posting.

      In fact, I’ve been one of those early birds, gotten an interview almost immediately, and was then hired shortly thereafter. Some companies interview as applications are received and then stop interviewing as soon as they find a candidate that fits their needs. I don’t want to miss the boat by waiting any longer than is needed to get my ducks in a row for the application. Granted I’m not applying to executive director roles, but I’m also not applying to entry level positions either.

      1. Active job seeker*

        Yes, everything you said here. I’ve been looking for a job and I primarily look at current jobs. Many companies I’ve already researched as something good, or I do a cursory review of the company.

    3. Sam.*

      Yeah, I think that the cover letters themselves would reveal who hadn’t put thought into it. There are plenty of reasons someone could put together a quality application in a few hours, even if they may be rare. But I think you should definitely prioritize someone who sent in a thoughtful cover letter 3 hours after posting over someone else who (theoretically) had more time with the application but didn’t go to the effort of articulating their transferable experiences and skills, etc. In that regard, I don’t think knowing when they submitted the application is all that useful. The quality of the application should tell you what you need to know.

      1. londonedit*

        It might just be my industry, but when I’m looking for a job, I’m looking for one type of position. There may be some slight variations in job title, but my work is quite specific, and it’s going to be broadly the same whichever company I’m applying to. So I have a basic cover letter that’s ready to go, which gives a snappy overview of my skills and experience, and then when I see something I want to apply for, I just need to spend half an hour or so looking at the specifics of the job advert/company and tweaking my cover letter to fit the details. I absolutely could apply for a job within an hour or so of the advert going online. So I agree that it’s all about the quality of the application, rather than the speed at which it was submitted.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, 100% this. I can tailor a cover letter to the posting pretty quickly, and like Alison said, I’m not going to spend a ton of time at that stage. Preparing for an interview, sure. But not getting my resume in front of them.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is exactly how I feel about it. The actual application materials tell you all you need to know. I wouldn’t want to see someone’s application date on a candidate tracking spreadsheet either, nor is exactly when they applied any sort of red flag. There are so many variables to when a job is posted out to various sites, how people use job alerts, pre-preparation for specific roles/organizations in which they’re interested, etc. to intuit any meaningful information from their application date.

  3. Database Developer Dude*

    oops….sorry for hitting the enter key too early.

    But seriously, stop making assumptions…do you want applicants or not? If coming in the same day is the kicker that makes you toss an application, I’d question your seriousness in hiring.

    1. Darsynia*

      I’d also worry that someone who has wanted to work at my org for a long time and hasn’t qualified for a posting (or overqualified for one, for this example) would be rejected simply because of… enthusiasm? There are valid reasons to worry about job applicants not putting enough thought in, but if someone’s already got a well-put-together resume and know their stuff, I could see them being qualified and diligent and ‘early’ all at the same time.

      1. Autumnheart*

        You’d think someone who was an experienced career person WOULD have filled out enough applications and resumes, to have some decent materials that they could update and send off pretty quickly.

        A job isn’t a dinner party. Why do we have to be “fashionably late” in the application process? Come on. There are so many aggregators and alerts available that it is entirely possible that people are being notified the second the job gets posted. If they read through it and do some basic googling on what the company does, that should be more than enough information to *apply*.

        1. Anonapots*

          This. When I was in the midst of my desperate job search, I was still trying to do some research and tailor my resume for jobs. It didn’t take me days or even hours to do one. I could have reasonably seen the posting, done an hour of research on the company, done an hour updating resume and cover letter to reflect what the job announcement and company research indicated, and gotten it submitted in two hours. It’s not a research paper that’s going to take weeks to compile data. Most companies aren’t that compelling.

          Hiring managers can be weird, y’all.

          1. Another freelancer*

            I also think that we job seekers have enough reasons to be paranoid and anxious about the entire process. Do we really need to add “Making sure we apply soon, but not TOO soon” to the list???

          2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Yes Anonapots, they can be.

            During my out-of-work time, I *WAS* desperate, as the primary financial support person of my family.

            But I only applied for jobs I was qualified for. If a hiring manager is that presumptive, maybe it’s best that you DON’T go there.

            I did have some strange interview experiences – view the movie “The Company Men” with Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones – everything that happened in that movie, actually happened to me.

            And, yes, there was at least one interview where a manager had me in his office for sixty minutes , apparently for his own amusement.

          3. Kesnit*

            I kept multiple copies of my resume (saved with different file names) tailored to different jobs. When a posting came up that I believed I qualified for, I uploaded/e-mailed/printed/whatever the appropriate version

        2. Mongrel*

          “You’d think someone who was an experienced career person WOULD have filled out enough applications and resumes, to have some decent materials that they could update and send off pretty quickly.”
          And given the current climate, how many people have a resume template & cover letter 90% set up and ready to tweak?

  4. Sean*

    It could also be people who have been keeping an eye on your organization and waiting for a good opportunity to appear. I knew the job I have now was coming before it was posted because it’s a public entity and had been talked about in open meetings, so the day that sucker posted I was ready to go. It doesn’t sound like all of your applicants fit that mold, but there may be people who are eager to move because they already know they’re interested in your organization and that it would be a good fit.

    1. KayZee*

      This! I work at highly desirable employer and would not be surprised, in normal times, if there were people who checked our website for postings almost daily.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        I have done this. Some employers are much more desirable than others. And the research may have already been done prior to the posting.

    2. Ali G*

      Yup. When I was last job searching I had a “master” resume that I modified for particular jobs. Once I had 2-3 cover letters under my belt, I just repurposed them as needed. I kept watch on some orgs I knew I wanted to apply to jobs at (and checked their sites multiple times per week). Since all the leg work on the resume and cover letter were mostly done, I could put together well-tailored application in about an hour.

      1. rayray*

        I have done the same thing as you. It works out well. I have put HOURS into my resume, and I know where I can make tweaks and modifications as needed for certain job applications.

    3. Megumin*

      This was the case for my current role – I wanted to stay at the university I am working at, but wanted to get out of my old department. So I checked the job board pretty much every day so I wouldn’t miss anything. I applied to my current role the same day because I already had a good cover letter that was tailored for an internal transfer, and all the necessary documents that my HR dept wanted.

  5. I'm just here for the cats!*

    One thing to consider is that you can set up alerts about specific companies that post new jobs. You might have someone who is really excited about your organization and wants to work there and has set up an alert. They see you posted, they polish off the resume a bit and send it out, all within a few hours from original posting.

    1. Pretzelgirl*

      Yes! Some places even have it set up to email you once a posting is live. When I was actively job hunting, I was on several of these lists. If I saw something that caught my eye I applied ASAP.

      Also some places have it set up to save all of your info and apply to several jobs over a period of time. So I am applying today at XYZ company for a data analyst job I fill out the application. Next week I see another job I am qualified for and just hit apply. I don’t have to got thru the whole process again. I love these sites, because applications can take forever.

    2. Miss May*

      Yeah, I regularly check companies postings where I want to work, and if I see a new posting, I’ll apply immediately.

    3. BTDT*

      I was just coming to say this! When I was job searching I had alerts for all of my preferred employers. If I got an email about a possible match I’d apply as quickly as possible. It never occurred to me that this might be viewed negatively

  6. Ms Fieryworth*

    I generally find that I get subpar applications in the first week of any job being posted, unless they were an employee referral or otherwise associated with our nonprofit ahead of time. Right now there are going to be a *lot* of people applying to meet unemployment requirements, so expect some terrible applications.

    I would the application to be tailored for this position. This is an ED role and my standards would be much higher when it comes to the quality of the cover letter and the contents. At the least, I’d expect an ED application to include a reference to the work and how they would be excellent at representing the nonprofit. It is possible that someone heard this job would be posted and was ready to go, but that should be shown in how the cover letter reads and how the application is tailored to the job itself. Cut and past is not what I would want in an ED.

    1. BPT*

      But how much time does it really take to tailor the cover letter? If you’ve got a solid cover letter about your experience (especially if you’re applying to mostly the same types of jobs), then you need to tailor, what, one paragraph? A few extra sentences? Especially if you’re already familiar with the organization. I would guess it would maybe take half an hour if you’ve already got a good base.

      If it’s a more in depth application process, sure, but again, this is just the first stage, and at this stage it doesn’t take much. For an ED/CEO position, if you get farther into the process, they will likely ask for presentations tailored to the organization. That’s when you really show what you know about the org.

      1. Ms Fieryworth*

        It doesn’t take much time at all. The OP says “All the cover letters seem pretty copy-and-paste without demonstrating a true knowledge of where our org has been/is going.” and that’s what I responded too. All it takes is a few sentences (or one really good one) to demonstrate that you read the ad and have some idea of what the organization is, and in an ED application I would expect that much.

        1. BPT*

          Right, I was more saying that an applicant wouldn’t have had to “[hear] the job was going to be posted and [was] ready to go.” Anyone could easily tailor an application the first day it was posted.

          1. Ms Fieryworth*

            Got it, so yes, it’s not a ton of work to customize a cover letter. Some applicants will do that quickly, spend 10 minutes on the website, and apply. That’s ok and if you’re good at it then you’ll stand out from the pack. Many years of recruitment tell me that most people are not good at tailoring a cover letter, and it’s obvious when it is just a cut and paste from every application.

            I do think at the nonprofit ED level you are much more likely to spend a decent amount of time looking at the organization’s stability, mission, and strategic plans (if publicly accessible) before applying, or at least I would. In this chaotic time I would not want to even apply to an organization that shows signs off financial instability, has a mission that I’m not 100% behind, or is headed a direction I would not want to champion. However I’m also not unemployed in a pandemic, so have the space and time to research before applying. Not everyone has that privilege. It’s also not the only way to do it.

            To be clear, I don’t agree that a quick application is a bad one, in all cases. But it is also true that most of the applications received in the first few hours are ‘resume bombing’ and they’re not great. You still have to look at them, and sometimes you find a great applicant in there too. In my experience it is rare, but it does happen and is pretty exciting!

            1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              And in the “for profit” world, often aggressiveness is viewed as an asset. And also, some companies want to (or HAVE to) fill a vacancy quickly because they have an urgent need.

              I can recall one place I worked. I had to hire a junior programmer to fill an urgent need. HR, and my manager, sent us a stack of applicants. The first one was perfect for the job but he wanted too much money (and he was employed). So that ended that.

              We brought candidates in one at a time. Second one was a no-go.
              Third one – she was IT. She was in on Wednesday, we made her the verbal offer the next day, she accepted, we overnighted the offer in writing and Monday we had her hired. Two weeks later, she was working and productive from “day 1”.

              We were not in a position to drag our feet. We did not want to extend it. We found our candidate and we stopped looking. We didn’t have time to mess around and hem and haw.

              1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                I might add – when you’ve got a good candidate -CLOSE THE DEAL. You might dilly-dally, bring in others for a lark, and then you learn you HAD the best candidate in (as we did three days into the process).

                And then you LOSE that prime applicant.

                He/she – likely has several “irons in the fire” – active applications pending elsewhere — if you goof up the process – and don’t extend an offer to “the right one” in a timely manner, someone else will get that person, and you’ve lost, and wasted everyone’s time as well.

                Yeah I know. “Heh heh, luck of the draw! Sometimes ya win, sometimes ya lose.”

                Ya snooze ya lose. And that makes you a loser.

  7. Roscoe*

    Man, people really do look for anything as a reason to judge someone. They applied too early? Like, come on. It takes about 5 minutes to read some very basic info on an organization to see if it sounds promising. From there, people apply. As Alison said, most submissions end in rejection, so why do you expect people to do ridiculous amounts of work just to submit a resume and cover letter? Or do you think YOUR organization is just so special that it takes days of research to even send a resume along?

    1. Quill*

      Yes, and also: hiring managers need to keep in mind that the spam goes both ways. Nobody who is seriously looking for a job has 2-4 hours for every application they fill out, especially these days. If you get a lot of subpar resumes and incomplete submissions, consider being more specific in your job ads, or if you’re using submission formats that are unnecessarily difficult to work with.

    2. Important Moi*

      “Or do you think YOUR organization is just so special that it takes days of research to even send a resume along?”

      Why of course. Not just anyone can work there. The right person for the job must wait for just the right time to apply. If you don’t know how long that is, obviously you don’t qualify to work there.

      I just feel that there’s an underlying “the hoi polloi need to know how to approach us” attitude to the letter.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Yeah I’m getting a, “Our non profit is super special” vibe here. I’m guessing it also comes with a below market salary.

        1. Rex Jacobus*

          With a hint of college dating life.
          “The date went really great last night. But now I have to wait three days to call her again or she’ll think I ‘m too into her and get scared off.”

        2. Taniwha Girl*

          I read this as well. It seems OP is overly invested in “culture fit” and assumes that “the right person” (note singular) will “just know” exactly how OP wants them to apply.

          This kind of thinking leads you to looking for unicorns who look like you. OP, don’t you want someone to balance you out, to challenge your ideas rather than be an exact copy of you and read your mind?

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          I’m not going to lie, the fact that the position is co-directorship, the whole “the position which has some unusual job duties for an executive position”, and the 110% commitment expectation definitely gave me pause. Maybe this is normal for the nonprofit sector, but it sounds a bit much for me.

          1. Random Anonymous Dude*

            I have been Director level at a non-profit for 8 years now and have worked my way up to this position with 16 years experience in different nonprofit roles. I am 1 step below being an Executive Director.

            “110% committed to this job, lifestyle, and public scrutiny” is simply a statement of fact across the board for ALL Executive Directors! The very nature of the job is that you will be under intense public scrutiny at all times. You don’t really get the luxury of work/life separation because much like politicians, you are now a public figure. You are now the physical representation of the organization and its mission and the community you serve will judge your nonprofit based on your character and behavior, whether you are officially performing duties or on vacation with your family. Is this fair? Of course not! It sucks that you don’t get your privacy! But this is a norm that is deeply, DEEPLY entrenched in the nonprofit sector (for profit as well, CEOs have the same scrutiny but often just aren’t taken to task on morals/ethics as harshly) and should be painfully obvious to anyone who would actually be in an ED applicant pool. To take on an Executive Director role, you have to understand this and be absolutely certain (“110%”) that you are willing to live that lifestyle. Because if you aren’t and you step into that role, not only could you seriously damage the nonprofit but you could ruin your own professional career and reputation for years.

    3. rayray*


      I was unemployed for over four months during this pandemic (starting a new job next week).

      I was trying to apply for anything I felt qualified for and interested in. I needed a job so that I could pay to live. I’d put a tiny bit of research as I apply. Mainly just a quick glance to see what the company does and what glassdoor/indeed reviews said.

      I often applied the day or day after it was posted because I’d spend hours each day browsing and applying so the new ones caught my attention. Absolutely ridiculous that recruiters have found yet another trivial detail to get upset about. If the job is posted, then it’s open for applications. End of discussion. It’s live and public, people will see it and they will apply. There’s many unemployed people right now desperate for work.

      If they get an invitation for an interview, it’s reasonable that they should research the company and understand the role better, but when you’re applying for so many jobs just so you can feed and house yourself, you don’t have time to do thorough research. Why do it if I am going to be ghosted or sent a rejection letter from donotreply?

    4. Anonapots*

      *whispers* I was thinking this too.

      It really doesn’t take that much time to do some preliminary research on a company. And even preliminary research more often than not can tell you all you need to know. Most companies aren’t that interesting. Like, if you’re a non-profit and someone reads your mission statement and values, they know a LOT about your org already. They can then do a quick read through press releases and programs you support and tah-dah. I know a lot about your organization and I know whether or not my experience matches the job description and what to highlight.

    5. JSPA*

      Looking at, ” 110% committed to this job, lifestyle, and public scrutiny!” makes me wonder a bit about what, exactly, is so dire about the “lifestyle,” or whether the risks of “public scrutiny” should be made explicit in the job description. (I’m also a tad allergic to the “110%” formulation as a matter of both style and principle, but I’ll chalk that up as a pet peeve.)

      Workplaces do (reasonably) have cultures. Many workplaces and jobs have quirks that are plusses (maybe even strong plusses) for the right person, and minuses (maybe even red flags) for the wrong person. But jobs really should not have secret requirements.

      People should not have to do even a shallow dive, let alone a deep dive to find out that, I dunno, the position requires celibacy. Or the wearing of hair shirts on alternate Tuesdays. Or the courting of elderly benefactors including duties more commonly expected of paid escorts. Or that firebombing, doxing, and swatting are considered an unpleasant but not unexpected occupational risk. Or “will never, under any circumstance, be documented to have so much as been in the presence of alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis.” Or “must be comfortable living in an area with high levels of homelessness, drug additction, and infectious diseases including typhus.”

      Highly foreseeable potential dealbreakers go right in the ad, or you’re wasting everyone’s time.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        ….like “U.S. Citizen or Green Card Holders only, please.”

      2. Random Anonymous Dude*

        I don’t think the OP is trying to say that there are weird quirks to the job. I have been Director level at a non-profit for 8 years now and have worked my way up to this position with 16 years experience in different nonprofit roles. I am 1 step below being an Executive Director.

        “110% committed to this job, lifestyle, and public scrutiny” is simply a statement of fact across the board for ALL Executive Directors! The very nature of the job is that you will be under intense public scrutiny at all times. You don’t really get the luxury of work/life separation because much like politicians, you are now a public figure. You are now the physical representation of the organization and its mission and the community you serve will judge your nonprofit based on your character and behavior, whether you are officially performing duties or on vacation with your family. Is this fair? Of course not! It sucks that you don’t get your privacy! But this is a norm that is deeply, DEEPLY entrenched in the nonprofit sector (for profit as well, CEOs have the same scrutiny but often just aren’t taken to task on morals/ethics as harshly) and should be painfully obvious to anyone who would actually be in an ED applicant pool. To take on an Executive Director role, you have to understand this and be absolutely certain (“110%”) that you are willing to live that lifestyle. Because if you aren’t and you step into that role, not only could you seriously damage the nonprofit but you could ruin your own professional career and reputation for years.

  8. AnnonRecruiter*

    There is also the chance that they have a google/indeed alert set up for their ideal job, so they’re notified once it is posted.

    This seems like a weird thing to get hung up on..

    1. Mayflower*

      Just came in to say exactly this. A lot of people have triggers/allerts/webcrawlers set up so they get an immediate notification when a new job is posted and matches certain keywords (company name, skill, location, etc). You could miss out on your most technically savvy and organized candidates!

    2. Victoria*

      This was also my thought. When I was job hunting, I had alerts set up, and I checked the job listing websites for companies that felt like ideal employers (including my current employer!) on a weekly basis to see if they had posted anything.

      I get that there are resume bombers out there, but if someone is sending quality materials, don’t second guess them if they sent it on the first day.

    3. voluptuousfire*

      I wonder if the OP is a recruiter vs. someone who is tasked with hiring. I don’t see a recruiter getting hung up on when a candidate applies as a disqualifier. I could very much see that as someone who is tasked with hiring having that POV since they’d let a bias like that reflect in their stack of applicants.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I’m thinking the OP did do all that research they are expecting others to do (or had another way to know things about the organization) and it has warped their expectations.

        Or maybe they haven’t job-hunted for awhile, and have forgotten how it feels? You just *can’t* invest too much time/effort into every application or your heart gets broken over and over.

  9. Observer*

    OP, if getting the right candidate is that important – and I believe that you are right about that – don’t place artificial barriers in your way.

    Also, your expectation of the amount of work someone should be doing before even APPLYING is highly unreasonable and unrealistic. Combined with your comment about “110%” commitment I wonder if you don’t have an unrealistic set of expectation around what you can expect people to give.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Yes, it’s very possible that a candidate has been looking for this exact kind of role and just applied to a similar company. They had the resume and cover letter ready to go and they wanted to apply quickly so they were at the top of the list.
      The OP is thinking the candidate is not committed, but they are actually entirely committed.
      …Also, I’m getting the impression that some recruiters believe that their company is so unique that someone needs to put in a bunch of research to make some kind of higher-conscience connection.

  10. Marny*

    I was really disappointed to see this opinion by the letter writer. As job-seekers, we’re told not to wait too long to apply when you see a job posting, especially when applications are on a rolling basis. We’re told that you want to show your enthusiasm and interest in the job and the company/organization, which is certainly shown by applying promptly. But now we read that the interpretation of applying fast is that we must not care. I agree that if you look at a resume and cover letter and they show an applicant who is just resume-bombing or who put little effort in that it means you probably can dismiss that applicant. But simply applying quickly? If you actually want to hire the right person, base that decision on the application and interviews, not the arbitrary clock you’ve put on when the “right” time to apply is.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      I recently spent the best part of five days on an application as they asked for a specific type of work sample that for most people with my experience would be easy to take from past work, but my previous job had a strict confidentiality policy. Therefore I wrote it from scratch, and completely tailored the covering letter and CV too. I had hoped the advert would stay live for at least a few days, but just as I finished my application, it vanished and I couldn’t apply. Now I make the effort for positions with a clear closing date in the advert, but I try and do a same day application when there isn’t. Even 24 h is too long for some vacancies.
      So if you want people to take longer, put a deadline and honour it.

      1. Six Degrees of Separation*

        Yes, this! I’ve had a position vanish before I could apply, so I’ve learned to apply quickly. Sometimes there’s no way to know how long the ad has been posted.

      2. ampersand*

        Yes! I’m sorry that happened to you—this is one of my fears now as I’m applying to jobs. It’s unfortunate that on top of all the other stressors and unknowns that come with a job search, there’s an additional concern of whether the job posting will disappear before you’re able to apply.

  11. Essess*

    If I saw a posting and the job description sounded exciting, you better believe I’m going to send the resume right away. I’m not going to risk that they decide to close the posting early because they received a lot of good resumes up front. Or risk that I get busy with deadlines and don’t get a chance to get back to sending it before the deadline. Even doing early research will not say whether the job will be a good fit. I would prefer to make my own decision based on actual interactions with the company rather than hyped press releases and news articles so delaying to do “research” is really not applicable unless it looks like I am being seriously considered. Forming a negative judgement about a job seeker for having a different process than you in order to get to the same end result is a red flag for the job seeker.

  12. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Recruiter here: most job applicants can’t tell when the job was created, only when it was posted to various boards. We reposted the same position numerous times to “bump them up” on search results. I would expect this is standard practice. You CANNOT fault applicants for applying when their automatic job search agent sends them a great looking match.

    1. goducks*

      Exactly this. Some of the ATS I’ve worked with has taken days to cross post a single opening across multiple platform. The job might have been live on our own website immediately after posting, but take 48 or more hours to show up on some job boards. As a seeker, I don’t know how long this position has been available, only (maybe, depending on the platform) how long it’s been on this platform.

  13. Manana*

    People looking for a new job set alerts for matching/desired positions. People looking for a new job have their resumés ready to go. People looking for a new job have already drafted cover letters to tweak for submission. If you work for a well-known or competitive company, people will want to work there whether there are openings or not so will set alerts for positions when posted. Also, we are in month 4 of a pandemic in which millions have lost their jobs and are now searching full-time for work. I feel you are out of touch with what job seeking is like right now and are taking it very, very personally.

    1. Darsynia*

      I’m with you on this–I definitely feel like this is a particularly frustrating gripe four-five months into a pandemic with such high unemployment rates, too! I mean, people who want a job probably have already spent the time working on their resume.

      I want to take this letter as someone who is hoping for a high quality candidate and possibly worried about the reasons why they might not end up with one (for example, if the people in charge of hiring have a certain number of applicants they want and will ignore any after that number, which is also not great if it’s a static number that could be met in a day or so), but OP should be reassured by a number of applicants to look through, because it should raise the likelihood of a solid ‘final #’ to choose from.

  14. Treebeardette*

    I have applied to jobs the same day I’ve seen them posted. (I work 2nd shift so I am more likely to see them same day than next day). I’m not even resume bombing. Usually it’s pure dumb luck. I apply quickly because my job field doesn’t post jobs that long. It’s not that difficult for me to apply and write a cover letter. I could probably finish it within an hour or two. I have a master resume that I pull the appropriate info from. I may change wording here and there after casually looking at the company.
    I should also say that I’m applying within my field so it’s not like the resumes are going to look that different between companies. If a recruiter reaches out, then I’ll research the company more in depth and do my usual prep for interviews.

  15. Intermittent Introvert*

    I’m curious about what’s wrong with being desperate. Many of us may have felt a little desperate in our past job searches. Hiding it well is a good skill. Adult, professional.

    1. windowround*

      There’s nothing wrong with being desperate. But this is what sounds like a really senior role. Usually the effort put into the application is proportionate to the role on offer. It is not unreasonable to expect a senior role’s application to have some thought put into it. It’s not about screening out the desperate but those who haven’t properly responded to what is a high level role.

      1. Observer*

        Except that the OP’s expectations of what is appropriate are seriously out of line. They are expecting people to “really research our nonprofit, to deeply consider the position which has some unusual job duties for an executive position, and to really tailor their cover letter and resume.“. That an awful lot to demand just for an application. Even at that level.

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          Exactly; the time to figure out whether that part of it is a good match for you or not is during the interview phase. It would be a waste of time to do that kind of serious reflection based on the tiny amount of information you get from just a job posting in the companies website.

  16. Keymaster of Gozer*

    As an unemployed person, we’re told to apply for x number of jobs per day in order to keep our unemployment benefits. So I’d like to apologise to anyone who’s ended up with one of my near immediate applications.

    (I do only apply to jobs I can actually do. The amount of alerts I have set up are staggering)

    1. Manana*

      Don’t apologize! If you need work and see a job you want, why would you arbitrarily decide to sit on an application? Like you said, if you receive unemployment benefits, you HAVE to apply to jobs, but even if not, the LW’s complaints make no sense. If they want people to be more thoroughly educated about the job, then they should put it in the job description, no expect applicants to spend a week researching the company before even getting an interview.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I also read really fast (hyperlexia has few benefits) so I can do that research a lot faster than most :)

    2. KRM*

      I have friends who have been on government contracts that last 9 months, then they do unemployment for 3 months, then their contract starts again. But they still have to apply for jobs to keep the unemployment. So yes, they’re going to resume bomb. Or apply to jobs they’re not qualified for (because they don’t want the interview at all–their job starts again in 3 months!). So it can and does happen, and it might happen with people currently on furlough who KNOW they have a job starting again in X weeks. So yes it sucks to have to weed through them, but often people are just trying to keep their benefits and also not waste people’s time too much.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        The job centre keeps advising me to apply for stuff that I know I can’t do (like retail, warehouse etc.) but I refuse because I’m afraid that I may get offered the job anyway, then lose benefits when I turn them down. Benefit systems really make a mess of this job search thing don’t they?

        1. SweetestCin*

          Oh lord. The local UE folks were pushing me to apply for jobs in “Teapot Detailing” when my background is in “Llama Detailing” because “Detailing”.

          Those are literally two separate degrees that have absolutely the square root of bugger-all to do with each other. They do not cross. Someone in Llama Detailing will have no competencies in Teapot Detailing, and vice versa. But these charming folks were going to hold my UE up if I didn’t apply. (Smacks head against wall)

  17. Georgina Fredrika*

    I don’t think you can be this picky at that stage, unless you can guarantee them that there’s a logical reason to spend more than 30 minutes on sending in their application. Like: if you can guarantee, somehow, that someone is one of five applicants, sure. But you’re going to be choosing between 30+ people it sounds like, by the end of this!

    Also worth noting I frequently advise my friends to apply right when they see something –

    I’ve been at orgs that are hiring and it is super frustrating to send someone a job that matches them, have them be really interested… and then they tell me they’ve applied 3-5 days later because they were “polishing up their resume” or waiting until Sunday night, etc. Sometimes that’s fine, but a couple times it’s meant they came too late in the process! Especially if I didn’t see the posting right away, myself.

      1. Georgina Fredricka*

        yep, exactly. I can commiserate with what they’re looking for – but at the same time… if understanding the role requires in an-depth examination of your website and press releases, rather than expecting more research, you should refine your job posting to reflect this.

        1. rayray*

          If the want to be picky, they should try doing the recruiting by searching their networks and reaching out to people individually. Maybe they should find more specialized ways of posting, rather than to LinkedIn. If you expect people to put hours of research into the role, then you should put hours into searching for the candidate and not expect all the amazing superstar unicorns to flock to you…Oh, but only after the job has been posted x amount of time so you KNOW they researched it.

          1. Autumnheart*

            That’s what I was thinking. If this is an executive director role for a specific type of non-profit, shouldn’t OP have a pretty good idea already of who’s at that level in that field? It wouldn’t be a large number.

  18. GigglyPuff*

    I’ve been job searching for the right job for so long now, it’s become part of my ADHD habit to check job postings almost daily. I used to apply in batch, but now there’s so few, yeah I’d apply right away.

    But seriously who cares if someone is desperate, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be a bad employee, maybe they did have other motives for applying, besides a paycheck, but that tells you absolutely nothing about how they would be as an employee. I find that descriptor very off-putting, even during normal economic climate. Now, probably all your applicants are going to be desperate. You really need to rethink some of your hiring norms.

    Honestly if I were you, you should really just give people an applicant number and strip all other information besides cover letter and resume (except maybe location, if you’re very strict about needing someone who is local, like your non-profit is so ingrained in local community, you need someone who is already involved). It would help a lot with bias, including preconceived notions around desperation and enthusiasm based on date of application. Your employees are correct, that data shouldn’t be included.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      One man’s “desperate” is another man’s “motivated.”

  19. Lygeia*

    I want to push back on what Alison said at the end. I am in the middle of a job search and am scouring the internet for relevant postings as I am miserable in my current job. I do look at each description to see if it could legitimately be a fit (after all, I don’t want to be miserable in my next job too!) but right now, there are so few openings in my area that it isn’t hard to apply to everything that comes up that could work. So I do end up applying within a couple days of a job being posted. I really don’t want anyone looking at resumes to get any sort of idea that they can be less rigorous in considering early applicants.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m certainly not recommending that. As I wrote, there are lots of exceptions in those early-days resume bombers, and your job when you’re hiring is to sift them out.

  20. Essess*

    Something else that hits me based on the level of the role that you use in your example… people at that C-level in a
    field would already have a good idea of quality/goals of other organizations in the area in the same field. Responding quickly could also show that they are well acquainted with your organization. It’s possible that they were aware this posting was coming since there is normally a lot of preparation for that level of a role. If it was being filled because of a departure, that is a high-enough level that others in the field would have already known the opening was coming and could have done their research ahead of time in order to be prepared. I still really find it not appropriate to use the application date in any of your evaluation. You say you don’t use it to discriminate but you already admit that you do because you use it to change how you treat them in the process…. “make me push just that bit harder in screening, interviewing and reference checking”. So you have created an artificial psychological performance test for your applicants simply because they are punctual. In the level of the role you are looking at, you want people that can make decisions and not delay processes with steps that can easily be done after a process has been started.

    1. DQ*

      THIS! I’m about 1 wrung down from C-level and not only are there a couple of specific people whose jobs I would LOVE but I have enough contacts to get a whiff when someone might be leaving. I’d absolutely set up an alert or do some stalking waiting for “Cersei”‘s old job to get posted if I heard through the grapevine that Cersei was leaving King’s Landing. It’s possible I’d be one of Cersei’s references or would know her well enough that she’d tell me personally if she was interviewing at Casterly Rock. So….OP…..early application might mean they are very much aware of/prepared for the role.

    2. Observer*

      Responding quickly could also show that they are well acquainted with your organization


      You say you don’t use it to discriminate but you already admit that you do because you use it to change how you treat them in the process

      Good point.

      OP, I think that you need to think about what you really need in this role – and I think you need to get an outside reality check, because I don’t think you are really clear on your own thought and behavior process here. And you seem to expect that everyone is going to handle job hunting in the same way that you will – because it’s the only “right” way to do this.

      Unless you organization really does need something as close of a clone of you as is possible, this is not a good way to make the best hiring choice.

  21. WantonSeedStitch*

    I think that wanting people to put in the effort and time to research your organization is a good thing, but as Alison says, probably it’s more reasonable to expect them to do so after you’ve invited them to interview. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of nonprofits are furloughing or laying people off right now–it’s happened to several folks I know–and they’re probably all eagerly looking for something new. If your position is advertised in places where people in that industry might see it quickly (professional organization job boards, etc.), it makes sense it will probably hit their radar very quickly. And it also makes sense that anyone who might have a good background for the position would recognize that. I’m at a nonprofit, and if I saw a position advertised with a title similar to mine at a nonprofit, I’d be pretty convinced that it would be within the realm of possibility. Now, I might not, upon further reflection and reading, decide that this is the job for me, but I probably would want to jump on applying and THEN do my research, especially if I was really in need of a job.

  22. OTGW*

    I mean, in this climate I’m sure a lot of people are out of jobs, and spending time looking for one. If they happen across a posting that just happened to be posted only hours before, like,,, let them go for it. Heck, if someone is looking for jobs while at a job and they have the materials ready why wait? Some jobs I look at just want a resume and references, and if I don’t send my info now, I’m not gonna do it til like a day before the application closes. So might as well send it in now.

  23. KayEss*

    I think the time is kind of a red herring, here. You have applicants whose resumes you’d be willing to consider (which doesn’t suggest super strong candidacy) but who you’re disappointed didn’t tailor a cover letter explaining why they’d be strong candidates, and concerned from what they did submit that they don’t understand the nature of the role. That’s a perfectly good reason on its own to decline to interview them if you get stronger candidates later. It’s on them that they chose not to put in the application materials effort—I certainly didn’t for some jobs I applied to in the past because it wasn’t worth it to me. It’s a valid choice, but one applicants need to weigh against the potential consequences for their first impression.

    1. Quill*

      Also consider what kind of job it is.

      The work of applying for a job should not be disproportionate to the amount of similar positions available.

      If five assistant Llama groomer jobs are posted per day in your area, expect people to spend less time tailoring their resume for your specific llama groomer specializing in hoof polish position than if you’re looking for a Llama-specialized veterinarian.

      1. KayEss*

        Right, with the LW hiring for an ED role, “put effort into a tailored cover letter relating their experience to this high-level position” is a not unreasonable line to draw between an application that goes in the “to interview” pile and one that goes in the “maybe, but let’s see who else we get first” or “nah” pile.

        That has little to do with how long after the posting went up it was submitted. Unless the LW is pressured to start interviewing immediately on a rolling basis and is stuck with only mediocre-seeming candidates (a problem!), she’s probably just watching the applications come in a little too closely and anxiously and should chill out a bit and review them in batches after a week or more.

        1. Observer*

          Well, if it were only an issue of tailoring the cover letter, I would agree – although again, the time frame would still not be the issue.

          But the OP is expecting much more – significant research into the org and “deep thinking” about the role. That’s just not realistic.

    2. Willis*

      This. Just judge by the application material. If it’s a generic letter that doesn’t really advance their candidacy, well, that’s what the person submitted. Deal with it the same as if they sent it in two weeks from then. Or if the application materials are great – who cares when they came in? It’s not like a school assignment where you can return the letter for changes cause you think the applicant has more potential than what is reflected in what they wrote.

      I agree with OP’s coworkers that they may be better off removing that info about when the application was received if it’s going to color OP’s (or other people’s) judgement about the applicant.

  24. Cassidy*

    In a spiraling pandemic where tens of millions of people are unemployed, the enhanced benefit for unemployment insurance is about to end, and protections for renters during COVID vary by state. I’d expect to see an uptick in resume bombing.

    I think many people right now just don’t have the luxury of considering the optics of whether their applications are too early and what that might look like. I’d cut all early applicants a break on “too soon?” for now.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I think many people right now just don’t have the luxury of considering the optics of whether their applications are too early and what that might look like.

      And even when they do, it’s not at all clear that the assumptions driven from those optics are consistent, let alone logical or reliable.

      1. Autumnheart*

        No doubt. One hiring manager might think that a slightly tailored resume and cover letter doesn’t show that a candidate is invested enough in the position, and another hiring manager, for the same role at a different company, might look at the same level of tailoring and think it was a sign of desperation.

        Honestly, this is where an automated system that just sends along people’s qualifications would be better. Going with one’s gut based on the tone of a cover letter is just not a good hiring practice. That’s where bias comes in and costs companies good candidates.

  25. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

    I don’t feel like an early application should be a red flag, as it is fairly easy to see if an applicant is simply applying to anything that pops up, or if they have taken the time to look at your role and org.

    In recently hiring for a Digital Marketing Coordinator, it was clear who just saw digital marketing and submitted their resume vs. who spent a few minutes determining they were a good fit. For a coordinator level role, I expect some tailoring, but not a lot, so we recieved a several great applications in during the first day it was up.

  26. Kiki*

    I really like that Alison clarified this:
    It’s reasonable to expect candidates to do that kind of research on your organization once they’re invited to interview (or maybe even slightly further into the process, like after they’ve passed the phone interview stage) but it’s not reasonable to expect them to do it just to send in an application.

    There has been an unhealthy amount of burden/expectation put on a lot of jobseekers, as if they are only applying at one company. Most people who need jobs can’t be incredibly selective and spend hours researching each one at the outset. A good application takes time and care, but any expectation that a great application would take more than an hour to put together is way out of whack. If someone were starting from scratch with their resume, I could see it taking a lot longer, but most job-hunters have a resume and cover letter template ready to go.

  27. Murphy*

    This seems like a weird thing to penalize people for. People don’t need to do all the soul searching needed to consider a position before submitting an application.

    A few years ago when job searching, I had dedicated time on Tuesdays and Fridays to search and work on applications. If the job happened to be posted on a Friday, I’d be applying the day it was posted.

  28. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    The flipside to this letter is when the job seeker is told “we had our candidate two weeks ago.”

    If I see a job listing I want, I apply for it immediately, and if there’s a company I want to work for, I’ll check their listings daily. Just judge the candidate on what you know, not what you think you can infer.

  29. ExcelJedi*

    I would actually be wary of a hiring manager who thought this was an issue. They’re replacing taking the time to actually get to know if a candidate is committed with a pretty flimsy rule meant to help them cut out the number of resumes they look at. If a colleague were to push back on having that column in a spreadsheet, I’d find it weird and second-guess their judgement (especially if there were other reasons to question them).

  30. Senor Montoya*

    Applicants could have been looking for an opening at your employer and ready to submit a resume as soon as the posting’s up.

    Applicants could have been looking for (possibly a long time) jobs like the one you posted, and jumped on it as soon as they saw it.

    There’s no guarnatee that applicants from the last day the posting is up have done any prep like you describe.

    My own experience is that we get crappy applications from the first day to the last day, and good ones too. I don’t even look at the application date when reviewing because it’s meaningless data and only slows me down.

  31. WellRed*

    Tell me in clear language what the role involves and what you require in an applicant (realistically please, no rockstart PHd unicorns for $40K). If I meet them, I’ll apply thoughtfully, but will be saving “deep contemplation” until we’ve gotten to know each other a little better.

    1. Ali G*

      Honestly, if the LW requires such deep contemplation of the role before anyone applies, she should be working with a recruiter, not posting positions on online job boards. Resume bombing is a normal part of the hiring process, not something to you hold against potential candidates.

    2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      And do not use the word “rockstar” or “unicorn” in your job posting, unless you’re hiring voice actors for a cartoon.

      1. Chronic Overthinker*

        *snerk* agreed. You can definitely tell the “newness” of a company/start up if they use unicorn or rockstar in their job descriptions. I run very far away from these as they scream “no work life balance.”

  32. windowround*

    Has anyone noticed there is a political correctness to not ‘penalising’ or ‘discriminating’ against applicants to the point that it seems like there are now barely any acceptable screening tools? It’s really become a bit absurd.

    Clearly someone who applies to an executive role two hours after posting has not done their research, and yes I would expect for an executive role some thought went into the application. If this were for a customer service role sure apply ten minutes after it opens with a format resume. Executive role? Yeah I’d want you to give it at least a few hours thought, research and care.

    The idea you can’t screen someone for showing limited care about an executive role is some kind of absurdist comedy of pro job applicant wokeness. I’m all for workers rights, all for it, but yeah executives need to have considered the role for more than two hours.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      How did you determine that the reflection, research, and thought didn’t occur before you posted the listing, when it was still hypothetical?

      1. windowround*

        If you post a job for a senior role at noon and have an application at two pm that’s a very tight turn around to have given it proper research and consideration.

        I think people have missed that this is a senior role. For regular roles I think just throw your resume in their as fast as you can and as often as you can. For senior roles it is not unreasonable to expect a more considered application and to judge that two hours may not indicate much thought was given.

        1. Ali G*

          No one is disagreeing that the applicants should be submitting appropriate materials to the role. The advice for the LW was to not use the application time/date as data about the applicants. You can’t just throw out all the applications you get in the first hour/day/whatever. Even though we all know that a lot of the immediate applications are crap, you still need to review those submissions. The data the LW should be using to evaluate the candidates is in the application, not when they submitted it.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          If that’s a requirement, I’d just add the criterion “Applications received in the first 31 days from posting will not be considered.”

        3. Willis*

          But someone who is actively job searching and has great experience/qualifications for a senior position already has a resume and cover letter written that reflects those qualifications, and may very likely already be familiar with the organizations in their field. If you get notification of a job posting you’d be interested in and are spending time each day actively job searching (which plenty of senior people are now), it’s easy to make some edits to letter/resume and send them off in a few hours. I don’t think there’s any magical difference between “regular” and “senior” roles here that would make one take days to ponder whether to apply.

        4. BuildMeUp*

          But how do you know the applicant wasn’t just already familiar with the organization? They may have even been keeping an eye on their jobs page waiting for this opportunity.

          There is absolutely no way to tell if they already knew enough about the company before the job was posted to know they want to work there.

        5. Mpls*

          The point is you don’t need time/date to determine this. A well-consideration application will be evident from the submission materials themselves. So don’t artifically limit your options when you already have other good materials (better, more appropriate materials, in fact) to use or judging how much consideration went into the application.

          1. windowround*

            I’m not saying automatically screen out over it. I wouldn’t automatically screen out anything really. It’s just that if someone applies super fast to a serious role you may want to consider whether their application is just a pro forma. A pro forma is fine for regular roles, for a senior role you’d be expecting something a little more tailored.

            If it is still a great application then great! But it is a reason to look closely to make sure it’s not a cookie cutter response.

            1. Observer*

              No. Either it’s a good application or it’s not. You are looking for problems to prove that they haven’t done their due diligence. But if it were so obvious that this is the case, you wouldn’t have to look more closely.

            2. biobotb*

              But you should be considering whether an application is pro forma anyway, so adding in the timeline doesn’t actually improve your screening process.

            3. BethDH*

              But how could it be cookie cutter and still be a great letter? A great cover letter, by the standards of this site, is specific to the role’s requirements. If the person can make that happen a few hours after the job is posted, arguably that means they were already prepared — perhaps familiar with the org, perhaps just luckily looking for exactly that kind of role. If anything a great cover letter produced in record time suggests a better fit than one received later because it was easier for the person to match themselves to the role.
              I feel like the letter writer isn’t actually looking for a better candidate, they really want evidence that the person is already putting in (unpaid) labor to show their commitment. It’s a “pay your dues” thing.

        6. Senor Montoya*

          As a number of folks have already pointed out, quite possible that people have been expecting the position to be posted (at this level, likely candidates could be aware that the position needs to be filled and have been watching for it, or have been looking for a similar position and have their materials ready). I’ve done that myself — I’ve identified a place I’d like to work, chatted with friends or colleagues in that place to see if something’s likely to open up, and then either watched for the posting or gotten a message from my connection saying “it’s posted”. Why should someone hold off applying if their stuff is set and ready to go?

          Turning application materials in early could just as easily be a sign that someone is extra organized and prepped. Judge the letter and resume. If it’s good, then good. If it’s not, then deep-six it. Day/time something is submitted is just not a good piece of info by which to evaluate a candidate.

    2. Roscoe*

      Assuming you know nothing about an organization, how long do you really think it takes to research them to know that you would be interested in possibly working there. Clearly you don’t know EVERYTHING about them, but its not hard to spend 30 minutes googling and come to the idea that this would be someplace you’d like to work. Do you think you need to do a ton of research just to submit application materials?

      Now, when you add to this the fact that, depending on location, people who work in non profits tend to be familiar with other non profits. So its very possible that they already know something about this organization. Granted if you are in NYC or DC, the number of non profits is a lot bigger so its a smaller chance that you know of them.

    3. SheLooksFamiliar*

      ‘Clearly someone who applies to an executive role two hours after posting has not done their research, and yes I would expect for an executive role some thought went into the application.’

      Not necessarily. An executive-level candidate usually has years of industry and/or functional knowledge that means, in a real sense, they’ve already done research on the employer. I’ve interviewed such candidates and, in some ways, they knew more about my employer than I did just from their tenure and visibility in the industry.

    4. G*

      it just seems kinda beside the point to me. Yeah, 90% of people applying for a role probably aren’t suited for it. But that’s the nature of job searching/hiring today.

      So the question is specifically, and only, about time. If someone’s resume and cover letter were amazing and demonstrated that they seemed to be a great fit for the role – would you want to exclude them because they applied within 4 hours??

      If someone’s resume was “meh,” would you give them a point over the great applicant because they submitted it 4 days after posting??

      It just doesn’t really make sense as a screening tool. Either they’re good applicants or they’re not.

    5. Anononon*

      Your comment reads like you’re just using this issue/letter as a general excuse to be upset about more scrutiny regarding unconscious biases during hiring. I’d be interested in some examples of what you think is absurd, because I don’t see anything absurd here. Alison never says that (general) you can’t screen for showing limited care about a position (and she agrees that a number of early resumes may have that fault). She just says that you cannot assume limited care based solely on the timestamp.

      1. Nanani*

        This. Sounds like somebody wants to go back to the “good old days” of hiring based on being the same demographics as the hiring manager!

    6. Nanani*

      The key is not to penalize and discriminate on arbitrary criteria, which can include protected characteristics as well as random pet peeves and speed of resume submission. Nobody is saying you’re not allowed to screen. You just have to do it on relevant points, like the actual content of their resume and cover letter rather the time your received it.

      You’re the absurd one and you should spend some time reading the rest of the replies.

    7. Nonke John*

      “Clearly someone who applies to an executive role two hours after posting has not done their research, and yes I would expect for an executive role some thought went into the application. If this were for a customer service role sure apply ten minutes after it opens with a format resume. Executive role? Yeah I’d want you to give it at least a few hours thought, research and care. ”

      That really isn’t true across the board. In my industry, anyone who’s been around for a decade or two knows all the scuttlebutt about what it’s actually like to work for the major suppliers (whatever their About Us and Mission pages may say about valuing people above all while staying at the forefront of innovation and stuff); and those of us on the customer side have to deal with any combination of a half-dozen well-delineated challenges that occupy all the sessions at our conferences.

      If you’ve been job-searching, you have your strengths and accomplishments in the forefront of your mind.

      So you don’t have to know much about combinatorics to figure out that even the best cover letters will boil down to, say, 3 from Column A and 3 from Column B–a pretty manageable number of possibilities. If you have an adaptable letter handy and are good at writing cogently off the cuff, you can very easily concoct a targeted version in an hour or so that gives due weight to the job listing, the corporate website, and a few articles Professor Google found for you.

    8. Observer*

      I honestly hope you don’t have any input into hiring.

      You simply show that you have no understanding of how most people do job applications, and that you have incredibly unreasonable expectations of what job seekers should be doing.

      Sorry, just because a person is looking for a job in your organization, does not mean that it’s reasonable to expect them to put in tons of extra time and effort before making a decision to apply. People do not need to know THAT much about your company and the role before APPLYING. If a good applicant actually needs to put in days before they have enough information to make a reasonable decision, you’ve either done your posting wrong or I’d be worrying about the transparency of your organization (at least for non-profits, which is what the OP is hiring for.)

  33. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, I can tell you this with no hesitation: when I reviewed applications to my employer’s job postings, my team and I sorted by date to begin with the first applicants, for OFCCP compliance. It’s pretty normal to get a lot of applicants in the first 1-2 days, and then things level off. This was pre-COVID-19, so that may have changed. I’m not working right now.

    But we never looked at the time stamp on an application, nor did we care! At the early stage of review, we just wanted to make a shortlist of applicants that met the minimum qualifications so we could phone screen them. I can also tell you that none of our hiring managers ever asked when someone applied. If they were expecting, say, a former co-worker to apply, they might ask IF they did. But never when.

    I know a lot of job seekers feel like they will be judged on the most minor and silly things and, sadly, they often are. I’m actively looking and feel it, too. But I wouldn’t worry about this issue.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Sorry, I just realized the OP isn’t a job seeker and has a different kind of worry related to this issue. I need more coffee.

      I’ll adjust my response a bit: this is not the kind of thing to hold against an applicant, because it just does not matter. There will always be the salad-shooters, applying to any and all openings even though they’re not qualified. Decline them and move on. If someone IS qualified, does it really matter when they applied? If they get to the interview and clearly don’t understand what you do, that’s another matter. But at this stage, you’re expecting too much from your applicants.

  34. Bookworm*

    Echoing the others: some of these applications are obviously carpet-bombing in the hopes of getting a job. But as many have also said: applicants often have no idea when a posting went up so why should they wait?

    Have you ever thought that maybe the applicant really wanted to work with your org, saw the posting and thought they’d give it a shot, even if they aren’t the right fit, don’t have the right experience, etc?

    If the application doesn’t fit, just throw it out like you would with any underqualified applicant. But if you’re penalizing people for applying “too soon” then perhaps they shouldn’t work with your organization after all.

    1. windowround*

      It’s not about waiting, it’s about the literal time required to have properly contemplated a senior role.

      For a senior role you’d expect someone to do some research on the organisations and tailor their cover letter and resume. No one should expect that for lower levels role but it is not unreasonable to expect a senior role to have given it some proper consideration.

      How many senior roles could someone be applying for? When you’re looking for low level roles you don’t have time to think too much about it as you may be doing heaps a day but for a senior role they couldn’t be looking at that many applications that it is unreasonable to expect that the smaller number that they do would be more considered ones for what is more senior roles and higher pay.

      1. goducks*

        I disagree. If the organization is known to the applicant (because of same industry, local noteworthiness, knowing other current or former employees, etc.) there’s little to research prior to applying. If the role seems to match the type of role the applicant is seeking, it’s completely reasonable that they’d be prepared to apply.

        The types of things that make a candidate want to accept that specific role are things that are unknowable until the interview process. Things like specific challenges in the role, personalities of the rest of the staff, quirks of the culture, specific job responsibilities in detail not provided in the job description, financial position, etc. are all things that organizations don’t put into outward facing documents, and are therefore not really researchable.

        I can know a company by reputation and even know some of the people in the org, see a job listing that matches my skillset and interests and apply immediately. I can later find that I want nothing to do with that place after the interview. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have applied. Just means it’s not the right fit for me.

      2. Anya Last Nerve*

        I work in financial services and senior roles are typically not filled just by someone applying to a job listing on or something. Typically the person is recruited or recommended. Is this normal in nonprofits for people to just submit resumes online instead of having internal or external recruiters reaching out to candidates, word of mouth in the industry, etc.?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          In my experience with non-profits, it’s much as you describe in your first two sentences. Unless this is a very small (or very disorganized) non-profit I’m a little surprised the scenario OP described would even come up in a search for this high-level a role.

        2. Persephone Underground*

          I’m kind of encouraged that a role like this was posted publicly. The idea that you necessarily will find all the great candidates through networking, headhunters, or word of mouth, even in a small industry, is very narrow. Post it publicly because you never know who will come forward that you never knew you wanted! E.g. someone who works at a high-level role in the for-profit world who has years of grassroots volunteer experience on your issue. They’re not already a nonprofit exec, but may be exactly the person you need. Not to mention, over-reliance on networking at high levels is a known contributor to lack of diversity in leadership (which harms the organizations run by less-diverse groups in plenty of ways like tendency to harmful groupthink, besides its overall social impact). As the OP herself said, they have made some of their best hires because they were open to less-expected profiles. No reason this wouldn’t hold true for the C-suite as well!

        3. DarnTheMan*

          Late but I’ve been working in different non-profits for 6+ years now and in every job I’ve had (as well as the many, many announcements about new CEOs/executive leadership I’ve seen) almost all of them were head-hunted or wooed from other organizations by the organization in question.

      3. blaise zamboni*

        I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that senior-level employees don’t have many jobs to look through or apply to. I have a flag for [my field] and at least 60% of the listings I see are director-level positions (that I am woefully unqualified for – I have really slim pickings as a mid-career person in my field).

        It’s not unreasonable that someone who has worked up to very senior levels would be proficient at screening jobs, screening companies, and tailoring their resume/cover letter to be very competitive. You seem really stuck on the time applied from your other comments repeating this point, but what really matters is if the application materials are competitive. That should be the only thing metric by which OP judges candidates. It does not matter, at all, what time they applied, if they have a strong application.

      4. Autumnheart*

        If someone has been doing the work of a senior role already, then they probably don’t need to “properly contemplate” the implications of doing similar work at a different company. Are you even looking at their qualifications?

      5. PollyQ*

        When you talk about “proper contemplation,” what do you actually mean? Why would someone with the right experience, and perhaps also knowledge of the company, need to “contemplate” anything? A job application isn’t a marriage proposal, and it isn’t a commitment that the applicant would definitely take the job if offered. It’s an indication of interest in the job, and information about why the applicant would be good at it. If someone already has a pertinent resume and a good cover letter, why shouldn’t they just polish those up and throw their hat in the ring?

  35. Brett*

    Wanted to add to be especially weary of filtering out people who are switching industries. In some industries, it is common for applications to be taken on a rolling basis even for fairly high level jobs. This means that once there are enough solid applications for the number of positions being advertised, the advertisement will close. My industry is one like that, where it is not uncommon for positions in the $150k range to still be filled on a rolling basis.
    As a result, even people with ED level resumes from my industry have experience with cranking out applications and submitting them ASAP.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I would have said either leery or wary, based on your original comment. Oh, the vocab nerd in me!

      1. Brett*

        In my head, I was probably trying to choose between leery and wary, came up with weary, but made a new word leary.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            I assumed it was an autocorrect thing. Like my phone always wants to select area instead of are.

  36. Delta Delta*

    In this particular instance, I wonder if it was known (or hinted) that there would be a position open for a Co-ED? I have some experience as a board member in hiring for a nonprofit. When our prior ED left a few years ago, it was well known within the relevant community he was retiring and sort of a rough timeline on it. We got some applications quickly from some qualified people; I suspect they had been working on them for some time while they waited for the official retirement announcement and posting. So, I’m going into this with an “it depends” attitude.

  37. lazy intellectual*

    How much time does the LW expect applicants to put into their application? If they are seriously going through the website and looking into the role, then I would say it would take 2 hours at most. So getting applications in after 4 hours is not that big a deal? Also, lots of people are unemployed right now. I remember when I was unemployed, I applied to job postings during what would have been traditional business hours. So people submitting applications a few hours after the posting goes up doesn’t seem strange to me.

  38. Akcipitrokulo*

    If you’re actively searching, often you know what you want. As soon as you see something that is ticking the boxes – especially if you know of the organisation – you don’t need too much more decision making as research has already been done. And if you have a handful of draft CVs tailored to types of openings, it may not take long to put finishing touches on.

    Of course, it also doesn’t take long to do for someone who isn’t suited. But you can tell that from the quality of the application – regardless of the timing.

    And, apart from cv-bombing, the person who applies on day 2 probably spent the same amount of time as the one on day 1.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      Yep this. It’s possible some applicants already knew about the organization before applying due to working in the industry before or something.

    2. londonedit*

      This is exactly how it works in my industry. There aren’t that many companies to start with, so everyone knows all the big names and most of the smaller ones. You already have an understanding of what they do, whether they’re one of the big guns, what sort of thing they produce, etc etc. You might also already have an insight into the work culture, because everyone knows someone who’s worked at any given company. Also, my role is broadly the same everywhere, so I have a basic cover letter ready to go and then it’s just a case of tweaking the details to play up experience that fits with the particular role on offer. I can absolutely do that in less than a couple of hours.

  39. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Yes there will be people who aren’t paying attention to specifics of a job posting and will throw their resume at anything that will stick hoping it results in a call. But making that assumption isn’t fair. I don’t research a company before I submit my resume. I’m not putting that much time into an application. Yes I take my time with the cover letter to try and get a foot in the door, but since most applications receive no results, I’m not spending any extra time until a company expresses interest in me. And even if there are some things in a posting that I may not be 100% qualified for, I may still apply hoping for an opportunity to get more details and explain how I would be a good fit. Yes you need to be diligent when going through the interview and selection process, but I think you really need to change your attitude when it comes to the application process. It is possible that someone is searching at the exact moment the job is posted.

  40. Hiring Mgr*

    I agree that it’s pointless to weigh the time that their application came in, but even if you did have some initial caution about it, I would hope it resolved itself before it got to the reference checking stage (“Did Jim ever come into work too quickly after the day started?”) :)

    1. blaise zamboni*

      Ha! Yes, promptness is rarely seen as a bad thing in any other context. I doubt any references would say, “Jim has been great, except that he always submitted materials shortly after I asked for them instead of right before the deadline.” With qualified applicants, this is just a sign that they’re prepared to move and have put thought into it before your posting went up!

  41. House Tyrell*

    It’s possible to set up alerts for certain orgs or job titles in your area- I know I’ve done it- so they have be excited about your organization or looking for that specific role, got the alert when it posted, and sent in their materials right away. Sure that may not be most people applying, but you shouldn’t automatically dismiss or be suspicious of every applicant who applies quickly.

  42. FriendlyCanadian*

    I feel like how much work you can ask of someone is proportional to how senior the job is. When I apply to jobs I mostly apply and then reaserch before interviews (although I learn enough to put together a cover letter). But for my parents applying for v senior roles there’s a whole different level of work before submitting an application. For a role like that I think submitting very early is a red flag

  43. Atalanta0jess*

    I think it’s worth nothing that discrimination is generally EXACTLY the sort of behavior described here. The vast majority of people who discriminate don’t think “oh I would never EVER hire THAT sort of person” – but they have a slightly higher bar. They push a little harder at the reference check. They look a little harder for red flags. That is discrimination.

    I don’t find it at all problematic in this context – I just think defining discrimination as only more blatant activities is not helpful.

    1. windowround*

      It just seems like everything is discrimination to some people. Normal things that reasonably rule out a job hunter are ‘discrimination.’ Hiring a person involves making judgements, which you could label anything as ‘discrimination.’

      It’s like those people who have job hopped through 5 jobs then call being judged on that ‘discrimination.’

      Are there any metrics left by which we are allowed to judge people on? At some point you need to use some filters to work out who can do the job. And one of those filters may be ‘could not literally have contemplated the role fully in the time they applied.’

      No one should judge anyone on things like race, gender, sexuality and so on. Employers should also be aware people are not robots and may have some gaps on their resume. But it honestly seems like the approach of some posters is ‘I’m terrible on paper but this time it will be different so don’t judge me!’

      1. Atalanta0jess*

        I just want to be clear, I believe it is good to be discriminating (discerning, judicious) in your choice of hire.

        I do not think it is helpful to say “I don’t discriminate against early people, I just give them extra special scrutiny.” Because you ARE by definition discriminating against them. Is that bad? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t really know or care honestly. But if you apply it to a trait that you should not be discriminating about, such as the examples you gave, I think it is important to understand that “I just give extra scrutiny” is discrimination.

      2. Nanani*

        Hey windowround, we get that you love discrimination. Too bad for you this is 2020.

        You can judge applicants to your hearts content, you just have to do it based on relevant things like their actual qualifications. Time to application isn’t one of them, and neither are demographic attributes.

      3. PollyQ*

        No one is saying to ignore what’s “on paper” in this case. In fact, they’re saying the opposite — judge the applicant by the resume & cover letter, not by some arbitrary, unknowable amount of time that they should have spent on it.

      4. Nonke John*

        “Are there any metrics left by which we are allowed to judge people on?”

        The quality of the materials they submit, yes.

        1. Observer*

          And their actual work history. Also, if you can, character traits like honesty. You don’t always have the information you need. But if people make up stuff, like claiming that folks are saying things that they are not saying, then you should be cautious.

  44. Dan*

    I’m a little confused about what kind of advice the OP is truly seeking. The computer programmer in me thinks the OP is asking if they can set up a “rule” that says that they should simply discard without review any resume received within the first X hours of posting. Of course you *can*! But the real question is “should you?”

    OP states “the majority of applicants are duds”. Well ok, then disqualify them! It’s not hard. Which leads me to ask, what about the ones that aren’t duds? How do *they* stack up? Are they not worth considering?

    But… I was fine with most of the OP’s letter. However, the closing sentences really made me raise both eyebrows. There’s a lot of “hidden biases” in the OP’s thinking, that make me think the OP is judgemental AF. (“desperate applicants” and “100% committed to the lifestyle” were two things)

    Big picture… I’ve seen a few people in hiring roles write in to AAM that more or less was complaining that “their time is getting wasted” for one reason or another. The reality is, hiring well is time consuming. There are some tools and what not to make things more efficient, but there will *always* be some trade off between false positives (manually reviewing duds) and false negatives (screening out resumes that could have been interviews/hires). TBH, it seems to me that for entry level/low skill jobs, a lower false positive rate is ideal, because the odds of finding a suitable applicant are high. (And suitable is the bar for lower level hirs). But for high level roles, where the responsibility is greater, and the cost of failure is much higher? I’d “waste the time” and err on the side of more manual reviews.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Big picture… I’ve seen a few people in hiring roles write in to AAM that more or less was complaining that “their time is getting wasted” for one reason or another. The reality is, hiring well is time consuming.

      If Hiring Managers think their time gets wasted screening applicants, I pray they’re never on the other side of the table to see what value applicants’ time has.

    2. biobotb*

      It is a bit ironic that the LW wants the applicants to put deep thought and effort into crafting their applications, but doesn’t want to have to put the same effort and thought into screening their application materials.

  45. insert pun here*

    I work in a somewhat specialized role in a smallish industry — so 99% of jobs I’ve applied for have been with my competitors, whose businesses I have to know pretty well in order to do my job. It would not take me too terribly long to tailor a cover letter for a job once I saw it and knew that I wanted it. Ninety minutes? Two hours maybe? (Though I personally tend to be the “mull it over for at least 24 hours, then apply” type.)

    1. JessicaTate*

      I wonder if THIS is kind of what’s underlying the LW’s question, but they weren’t quite articulating? Like you, I am 100% a “mull it over for at least 24 hours” person – especially for a role as substantial as ED. Reading through the reactions here… “desire to mull over” is a more unique personality trait than I thought.

      So, LW, are you also a “mull it over” type? Might your gut reaction not be about research and care in preparing materials, but that it’s signaling Candidate X is not a “mull it over” type – and maybe that worries you for some reason… maybe because it is a personality difference with your style? (Just spit-balling a plausible logic train I could imagine for myself.)

      That being said, these aren’t normal times. If someone with ED qualifications is out of work, they might not be in quite as much of a “mulling” state of mind as they were back in January. Also, while you know people who apply Day 1 didn’t mull, you have no clue about people on Days 2-102. Any applicant on those days may also have shot from the hip, because you don’t know when they encountered the ad. That makes it a lousy metric. So… I get WHY it could feel weird to you, but agree that you need to shake it off in practice.

  46. New Jack Karyn*

    This sentence here, gives me a little pause: “The right person has to have the skills AND be 110% committed to this job, lifestyle, and public scrutiny!”

    I mean, clearly you don’t want a higher-up at PETA going on big-game hunts, or an executive for NARAL going to anti-choice rallies. But as long as the person is mostly aligned with the goals of the organization, is it commonly that big a deal? I’ve worked for a couple of non-profits (certainly nowhere near the director level), and this just seems like a harmful attitude that contributes to burnout.

    1. Observer*

      It is a little bit of a big deal. If you’re “color blind” in a social justice organization, driving a big SUV in a city with good public transport while working for a conservation / climate change organization, etc. then that IS an issue that’s going create problems at that level.

  47. Free Meerkats*

    I haven’t ever discriminated against someone for that, it does make me push just that bit harder in screening, interviewing and reference checking to make sure I’m not wasting my time on someone who is just desperate and good at hiding it or who likes the idea of the title and raise but hasn’t fully thought out what the role really means.

    If you’re picking apart their application and references more than someone who applies a week later, you are discriminating against them.

    And just like the applicants don’t know how long the ad has been up, you don’t know how long the applicants spent to “take the time to really research our nonprofit, to deeply consider the position which has some unusual job duties for an executive position, and to really tailor their cover letter and resume.” If I see the ad a week after it went up, but I sent in my resume within the hour of seeing it, that somehow makes me more qualified than if I saw the ad 5 minutes after it went up and sent in my resume in an hour?

    1. Nanani*

      I was just scanning to see if anyone had pointed this out yet.

      “I’ve never discriminated for this reason! Except I treat them differently than other people”.
      You can’t make that not discrimination by saying its not. Granted, applying quickly is not protected in any jurisdiction I know about, but you’re still treating people differently based on arbitrary criteria. And making it seem like you don’t actually understand what words mean.

  48. AEK*

    Every time I try to make a firm screening rule we get someone who breaks it and ends up being good so I gave up on that long ago. Just consider each application on it’s own merits.

    That said, hiring for executive roles really is very, very different than just about any other job. There are far fewer jobs and far fewer people with the skills/esperince/mission connection to fill any one of them so I don’t think regular job search or regular applicant evaluation rules apply. You aren’t likely to be competing against hundreds of candidates if you are actually a strong match the way you might for a lower level job.

    The last very senior level hire I made submitted a cover letter that was just an email saying “excited to see you’re hiring for this role. I’ve admired the work (person leaving job) has done over the last 3 years. Please reach out if you would like to talk further about what you’re hoping to accomplish next” and had a copy of their CV. That was it. The expectation was that their reputation proceeded them and that of course they knew us and what we were all about. Both true. It would not have been weird had that application come in a few hours after being posted. You don’t need to deeply assess fit for an organization you know well and have collaborated with before. But for someone less connected to the org it would seem very weird to me not to take real time with an application for an ED role, especially one that was part of a co-leadership team.

  49. Paloma Pigeon*

    I think in the Covid landscape, more people may have the ability to craft a cover letter and send it with a resume within an hour or two. I have a standard CL that I edit about why I’m a good fit specific to the role and the organization’s mission, but that usually doesn’t take more than an hour, tops. Also, if you are interested in a particular company you can sign up for Google or LinkedIn alerts and be able to respond quickly. These folks might already know about your company; don’t discount them because they are organized.

  50. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I’m confused why anyone would think folks should put in extensive hours on researching an organization before simply applying for it. I at best look at the company website to see what they do and get that first initial feeling.

    I’ve never needed to sit and stew over my resume and cover-letter, it flows. And I’m excessively picky about where I apply to. I’m just really prepared while job searching because if I’m looking, I’m serious about it and ready to shoot off my materials in the event I find a job listing. It takes me at best an hour to see an ad, think about it and see how it makes me feel, look at the company website and see what they have going on there on a surface level and then crafting a cover letter.

    Go off of the materials in front of you. Don’t act on assumptions. Even if they’re resume bombing, that doesn’t mean they’re not qualified. Rarely is anyone at that stage really invested in the job or organization, otherwise you run into people who just want to work for Nintendo and are fanboys instead of someone in search of a job, doing what they are skilled at, at an organization that they will learn a lot about over the course of an interview, more so than researching public information on the place.

    I do understand that this is NP though, so I can understand wanting someone to at least mention or be interested in the mission at the director level! But a cover letter is only to introduce themselves to you and say “I too would love to save the kittens.”

  51. Forrest*

    >> it does make me push just that bit harder in screening, interviewing and reference checking to make sure I’m not wasting my time on someone who is just desperate and good at hiding it or who likes the idea of the title and raise but hasn’t fully thought out what the role really means

    For executive roles, I don’t get why you wouldn’t be scrutinising that pretty hard regardless of when someone applied!

  52. Rex Jacobus*

    I am speculating here but I wonder if the OP is falling for the percentage fallacy. If they do a lot of the hiring they might see something like:

    Day 1: 2 good cover letters, 48 knuckleheads
    Day 2: 2 good cover letters, 18 knuckleheads
    Day 3-14: 2 good cover letters, 3 knuckleheads

    And so they go away shaking their head and thinking, “people who apply on day 1 are almost always idiots.”

      1. Persephone Underground*

        Ugh, replace that second part with “If A then B”.
        Very common and easy fallacy.

  53. Cafe Lighting*

    I agree. Although there’s probably a lot of people applying for everything, I’m sure there could be at least a few people that just happened to be doing an active job search at the time the ad was posted. That’s what happened to me with my current job.I work back of the house at a restaurant so it’s obviously not the exact same situation, but it’s the same idea.

    When I would do my job searching I always used one particular website. Each time I searched I would have it list all the new jobs since the last time I visited the site. That was when I saw the help wanted and for the restaurant I now work at. when I went in for my interview the manager told me that my application came in literally within 15 minutes of the ad being posted. I’m glad he didn’t think that I was somebody who just applied for everything that showed up. The timing was just right.

  54. Anon Anon*

    For positions like an Executive Director/CEO it’s generally pretty widely known that a search is going to take place, before the call for applications/resumes is ever launched. Most organizations I’ve worked with there is generally a 4-6 month (at the very least and sometimes as long as a year) transition period between the two Executive Director’s. And so typically the fact that the other Executive Director is stepping down is known months in advance. If potential applicants know that the position was going to be open, they would have had plenty of time to do any research they wanted about the organization and had the time to craft their materials carefully. So that when the call for resumes/applications is made all they really need to do is to tweak their materials to the ad and then send them in.

    The best candidates are the best candidates whether they submit their materials 5 minutes after the job ad goes live or 5 minutes before the job ad closes.

  55. Nanani*

    It sounds like LW is writing in to ask permission to dismiss everyone who applies within some arbitrary span of time, because -some- day 1 applications are bad?

    You’re going to get bad applications all the time. This will not actually help, and putting up invisible arbitrary hoops is going to weaken your candidate pool.
    More importantly, you don’t get to penalize job applicant A because applicant B sent in a bad resume. And that’s what you’re doing when you decide to apply extra scrutiny to A for applying on day 1.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      <i.You’re going to get bad applications all the time. This will not actually help, and putting up invisible arbitrary hoops is going to weaken your candidate pool.
      More importantly, you don’t get to penalize job applicant A because applicant B sent in a bad resume. And that’s what you’re doing when you decide to apply extra scrutiny to A for applying on day 1.


    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Reply fail…

      You’re going to get bad applications all the time. This will not actually help, and putting up invisible arbitrary hoops is going to weaken your candidate pool.
      More importantly, you don’t get to penalize job applicant A because applicant B did something you don’t approve of. And that’s what you’re doing when you decide to apply extra scrutiny to A…

      A lot of hiring rules of thumb are going to get slaughtered by that logic… deservedly.

  56. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

    Some companies repeatedly post the same job opening so it shows up as “new” on LinkedIn. Unless the candidate were stalking your openings, they wouldn’t necessarily know if this was truly new, new to external applicants but two weeks into internal candidates, or brand new. When I was job searching, I applied to positions I was qualified for at companies I was interested, as soon as I saw the listing.

  57. Persephone Underground*

    You’re likely to get the most people seeing the job posting when it’s first posted (or indexed on a job search site) , because the default sort setting is “most recent first”. So yes, when you’re getting the most total applicants maybe a larger percentage of them will be resume bombers because those have already applied to all the older postings. But the logic just doesn’t work in reverse, in fact getting a lot of applicants ups your total chances of getting a good one, right? Reading anything into the timing of “applied when the job was most prominent” is a bit ridiculous.

    OP- Do you actually sit on job postings for days when you’re searching as an applicant? If I have decent materials ready to go and I really like the job, it becomes top priority and I apply that day if at all possible, because I can’t know if it will be filled soon. If you’re looking for commitment, your logic is backwards- the postings I come back to later are the ones I’m less invested in, not the ones I apply to right away! I don’t know if everyone is like me in this way, but my logic makes just as much sense as the logic on the letter, so I really hope you listen to Alison on this.

    Also! I agree with your coworkers that you should remove the submission date from your tracking sheet, because it’s tempting you to read things into the date that aren’t logical, and could make you overlook your best candidate if you’re unlucky.

  58. TheGreatOctopus*

    Also, it could literally be timing. Today I applied for a job in the first hour (didn’t notice) but she mentioned it in the email I got around end of day inviting me to an interview next week. Total fluke, I was looking through other postings, applying to ones that fit my criteria and skill set and that one was in the list and was a great fit. Maybe it’s just my indeed but it naturally sorts at random and not chronologically newest to oldest.

    Side note – I’m not sure about everyone else, but I typically spend around 30 minutes per application. At the initial resume stage often I look through the posting (and save a copy), do a quick google to know what they do, the a quick scan on reviews of working there for red flags, then customize my cover letter and apply. (which is not a form letter, but I keep the same basic structure which makes it super easy to build out and customize). I don’t spend real time doing research into the company until I’m invited to interview or there’s follow up questions. Anyone else just do that or is common to really dig in to the company before sending a resume?

    1. Six Feet Under Par: A Chip Driver Mystery*

      I started out at my current company 5 years ago by clicking the “apply now” button on LinkedIn app on my phone while at the park with my child. No cover letter and I hadn’t even seriously thought about working there until I did the research when I got an interview, then I interviewed, I liked the people and I liked what they did and we are a good fit. This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t put the work into applying – it just so happened that I was having a career change and was not really sure what I was looking for until I found it_ but it’s unreasonable to expect candidates should have a PHD in Your Company before you’ll interview them.

  59. Roja*

    Oh gosh, this reminds me of the time I interviewed for a job awhile back. I applied at something like 4:30pm… they emailed back within 15 minutes and wanted to call me for a phone interview within the hour. I spent that hour frantically researching everything I could get my hands on and almost made it through everything. Then during the interview, the person got annoyed because I didn’t know enough about the company. I was like… really though?

    They wound up offering me the job eventually but I didn’t take it. For other reasons, admittedly, but it turned out I dodged a bullet when I sent in the email that I couldn’t take the job long-term but could fill in till the end of the school year (something they desperately needed) and they promptly ghosted me–in my field, that is Not Done.

    OP, if the application is a good one, don’t worry about the time. If it isn’t, well, it isn’t. That’s really the key thing.

  60. Six Feet Under Par: A Chip Driver Mystery*

    For me this is a case of building a bunch of stories “they’re resume-bombing”, “they are just desperate and good at hiding it” or “they like the idea of the title and raise but hasn’t fully thought out what the role really means” out of one piece of information “they got their application in quickly” . This sounds a little like you feel like the world is awash with pretenders who are just trying to trick you into hiring them of wasting your time instead of people who are in good faith trying to find a job that they want to do.

    You don’t have the full picture of why anyone is applying and the whole point of interview is to get more pieces of the puzzle to build a more complete picture. Of course, you need to be selective about who you interview, but the time at which they applied doesn’t tell you anything other than they applied for a job.

  61. pcake*

    It doesn’t take over 4 hours to learn about an organization. You can look them up by name, see all the news about them, the companies that support them, ranking organizations ranks of the organization and the reasons for the ranking, Wikipedia entry, what the percentages of the money the organization receives go to what. I can determine all of that within 30 minutes. Then I’d check their Yelp reviews if any, Glass Door reviews and so on. In less than an hour, I’ll know more than enough to know if I want to send a resume.

    Or I might already be fully aware of the organization and know already if it’s dedicated to something I’m passionate about.

  62. OyHiOh*

    I read fast, type moderately fast, can assemble coherent sentences quickly. And I’ve been job hunting long enough that I’ve got a library of cover letters I can tweak at a moment’s notice. Additionally, my search on major job websites is set for “last 24 hours” so I see things very quickly. I am capable of sending out a strong package with a quick flip through website and press releases – an hour or ninety minutes, max. And when I get interviews ( I get to final interview stage regularly, just haven’t been “it” yet) I of course take more time to learn about the org and make a few notes on things to remember.

    Lastly, in all but the very largest job markets, most people who are interested in non profit work already know who the non profit orgs in the region are, their reputations, salaries/benefits, and what they generally look for in qualified candidates. The industry rumor mill being what it is in my lower population region, it’s not uncommon for me to know the why’s and wherefores of certain types of job openings through network scuttlebutt, before they’re even posted.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Everything you just said re having various cover letters, etc. already prepared. The jobs I’ve been targeting have enough duties in common that it’s not really necessary to customize all that much.

      If people are unemployed, you can safely bet they’re looking at listings on a daily basis. Since there are so many people job hunting right now, it doesn’t make sense to wait. I’m going to jump if I see something I might be interested in. It might close before I get a chance.

  63. Jennifer Thneed*

    OP, we all have our little “things” and that’s fine if we recognize them and figure out ways to work around our own bad impulses. So, recognize that you’re having an emotional reaction to the speed of some replies. That in itself is not a problem! as long as you have a system to mitigate it

    I suggest that you change up your method in this way: ignore ALL the responses for the first week. Just continue doing the other parts of your job. After a week, look at all the responses without paying attention to which came on what day. THEN you can make judgements of which are worth follow-up calls. (And I hope you don’t routinely call them all! You don’t have to call the ones who are clearly not qualified.)

  64. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

    I’m also going to raise that this could be a MBTI issue. I would hazard a guess that the OP is a methodical “S” type who has a negative reaction to intuitive “N” types that can see a posting in a relevant industry/job title/company of interest, scan the requirements and say “check, check, check,” ferret out some KPIs on the organization’s website (one of mine is staff/board diversity), look for +/- social media connections [e.g. your frenemy is in wedding photos with the hiring manager], do whatever financial due diligence might be appropriate, and pull the trigger on a respectably targeted cover letter and resume, without it having to be a multi-day enterprise.

    I also think that “too fast” can read as “desperate” >> “loser.” Dating psychology, basically. So I have been known to do all the above and then sit on my application for 24 hours before hitting “send.”

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