Pinpointing Bad Job Postings

pinpointOne of the biggest time wasters in the job search process is responding to postings for jobs that match neither your qualifications nor your personality. Though most career counselors recommend not spending much time applying to job board ads to begin with, when you do, you should be sure the effort is justified. To this end, there are several warning signs to look for when filtering the worthwhile postings from the flotsam.

An early indicator that a job posting isn’t, at best, a headhunter or, at worst, a scam, is the presence of a name personal email address for the actual handler of the applications. Most job postings typically just list a generic company address or may attempt to conceal the recipient in some way. The most probable result of submitting to a listing like this is that your resume will end up in an anonymous pile somewhere where your chances of being contacted for a job are virtually nil.

The next piece of information to be wary of is if it’s missing a specific position altogether. The primary reason for a company to collect resumes without specifying a position is to collect a resume pool from which to choose candidates for future job openings. Typically, the posting will advertise for candidates with a certain set of skills rather than for a single position. While it may still be worth applying to such companies, don’t go in expecting to hear back anytime soon, if ever.

If there is a specific job description within the ad, make sure it matches the job title. For example, while a company may advertise that they are hiring managers, the actual job may be completely removed from managerial duties. The key here is to remember that a company is free to call a position anything they want. The lesson to be learned from this is to pay close attention to the list of responsibilities that a position requires and make sure the title and duties match. If they don’t or are absent altogether, it is probably best to either ignore the post or contact the company for more information.

The only reason a company advertises a job is to attract talent. And what better way to grab someone’s attention than by offering a great salary? But a common tactic is to post a broad pay range when only the lower portion of the spectrum will actually be offered to candidates. So, if you’re considering applying for a job for a salary within the upper portion of its range or a little beyond, it may be best to pass it by.

When perusing job postings, keep your eye on the date it was posted. If a job has been listed for over a month, more than likely the position has already been filled and the recruiter has forgotten to remove it from the job board. You may have a better chance when applying to very general positions, since there may be multiple vacancies, but be mindful that the job being advertised may no longer be open. Also, be aware that many employers and job boards post their job over and over again in order to “game” job search engines for relevancy. If you see the same post again and again, it’s not new: it’s just the employer playing games for technical purposes.

Perhaps the most obvious, yet frequently overlooked, red flag from a job post is an applicant not meeting the basic job requirements. While preferences such as length of experience may be negotiable if an applicant is far enough along in his or her career, degree or certification requirements are not. If you lack specific education or skill requirements, don’t waste your time applying.

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Joshua Bjerke
Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.