Hiring Insiders Share the 5 Secret Signs That It Isn’t Worth Applying to A Job

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April 18, 2024 at 11:51AM UTC

I hate to start an article with a cliche, but here we go: Time is money. Time is especially money on the job search. 

When you’re unemployed, you can’t afford to spend your time applying to job postings that won’t work out. But in today’s job search, it can feel impossible to avoid. Many companies use job postings as placeholders for jobs they’re actually holding internally. They leave posts up for weeks after they’re filled. They even make posts for jobs they never intend to fill, just to see what’s out there. 

So, how can you find out what job postings aren’t worth your time — often by design? We spoke to hiring managers, recruiters and talent acquisition consultants about the telltale signs you shouldn’t spend your time applying to a job post. 

1. The description is short and vague.

If the job posting you're applying to doesn't contain a lot of detail, chances are it is a "placeholder," according to Laura Fuentes, who operates an Infinity Dish
"As an ex-freelancer and current business owner, I’ve written and responded to hundreds of job advertisements. It eventually becomes easy to spot the most worthwhile... Placeholder job postings are often short and vague. Look for ads that give a thorough description of the role, as well as stringent guidelines on who should apply. These are often the most trustworthy."
Dana Case, Director of Operations at MyCorporation.com, agrees that jobs that lack clear responsibilities and descriptions of the role are usually not worth the time. They may just be a tool for collecting resumes, a job the company doesn't intend to hire for, or fraudulent. 
"Avoid applying to listings that read as though they were written on the fly. These generally include little information about the company, duties, hours, and even location," she said. "Take care if you do apply for a job like this and be mindful that it may not be the best fit — or even legitimate — due to the manner the listing was written in."

2. They’re missing the “currently hiring” label.

Case has an additional sign the job posting your looking at isn't a great one to jump at: it's missing any 'currently hiring' language. 

"Quite a few job listings posted on sites like LinkedIn now include a mention in the listing as to whether or not the company is currently hiring for this role," she said. "Read through the posting carefully before applying — if you do apply, that is. This mention is typically included at the top or bottom of the listing."

3. The post has been up for two weeks or more.

While the experts we spoke to didn't agree on a specific timeline that's best for applying to an opening post, most agreed the sooner the better — and after a few weeks, it might be too late. 
"Generally, the earlier you can respond as an applicant the better... A job that has been posted for more than three weeks is most likely too far into the candidate evaluation process for most positions," Michele Mavi, career strategist and founder at MonumentalMe, said. 
Orin C. Davis, a hiring strategy consultant, would give a posting even less time. 
"Anything over two weeks old should be ignored unless you are a solid fit and/or can have your resume submitted as a referral," he said. 

4. The description has been reposted again and again.

If you've seen the same job description again and again in your searches on a single site, it might not be worth your time, according to Reuben Yonatan, Founder and CEO of GetVoIP

"If it is an old job posting that is being reposted every few months and staying there for three to four months before another reposting, then it is not worth your time. Chances are, the company is reposting the job so that they can cover themselves with EEO," he told us. 

5. The job requirements are just weird.

Along with being short and vague, a job description that's packed full of buzzword and features some strange requirements is likely not worth your time. In fact, it might be fraudulent, according to some of the experts we spoke with. 
"Warning signs that the job isn’t worth applying to: Requires experience at a “Top X [company/university],” must submit G.P.A., has an extremely long list of requirements, you aren’t sure if you are a fit for the job and can’t think of anyone in your network (employed or not) who is," Davis said. 

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for finding jobs that are actually worth applying to? Leave your answer in the comments to help other FGB’ers.

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