how can you determine how old a job posting is? — Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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