“Thanks for Applying, But the Job is Filled.” What’s the Deal?

A reader wrote in with a question about her job search experience. It’s an issue that many of us have probably faced, and the answer is more hopeful than you probably thought. She writes:

I’ve just started looking for a job and have applied for just a few, but I’ve already heard, “Thanks for applying, I reviewed your resume and you sound great! Unfortunately, the position was filled a few weeks ago. I will definitely keep you in mind for future opportunities…” Needless to say, I don’t want to waste any more time applying for jobs that have been filled. It’s frustrating and time-consuming, considering the time it takes to write cover letters, tailor resumes, etc.

First of all, bravo for taking the time to actually write cover letters, customize your resume to the specific job, and all of the steps that make a job search feel like, well, work. These steps are the difference between making the right impression and making no impression at all. Kudos to you for realizing what needs to be done and just doing it.

But HR Dave,” I hear at least one person thinking (yes, I’m a part-time psychic), “what’s the point of all the work if I’m just getting rejected anyway? Can’t I get rejected on a lot less effort?” The short answer is yes. The real answer is slightly more complicated.

The fact is that even though you’re getting rejected, the kind of rejection is what matters here. That a recruiter took the time to respond at all is a good sign that you’re applying to the right companies and the right jobs. The fact that you’re getting feedback like “you sound great” and “will definitely keep you in mind” should actually be very encouraging. You could just as easily, or more easily, be getting canned responses like “Dear Candidate, Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately we are not able to move forward with your candidacy at this time. Best of luck in your search. Sincerely, Auto-response.” Considering the fact that most people are getting the latter, you’re way ahead of the curve. The recruiter who sent that email is actually pretty likely to mean what he/she said. You will be kept in mind. You did sound great. These are things to feel good about.

The question about how to find out if a job is really open is a tough one to answer. There are a multitude of reasons that jobs you’re seeing online might not be current. Some companies and recruiters just forget to take postings down. Sometimes companies leave a posting up even when there’s no immediate need if it’s a position they think they’ll have open in the future or one that comes up frequently. Sometimes you’re just getting your data from bad sources. Third party job sites like Monster aren’t always up to date – A job could have been posted, filled, and just not taken off the site. Other job boards like Indeed aggregate postings from a multitude of sources and are often out-dated, since they’re drawing from third party sites and corporate sites alike.

So what are some hints as to whether a job is actually open? Some recruiters make it easier than others to find out. The more digitally active recruiters are easy to find on Linkedin or Twitter, and are usually posting and tweeting about the jobs they’re looking to fill. Other things to look for are fresh postings. If you check the same sites and job boards frequently, look for the postings that you haven’t seen before – those are the ones that are most likely to be the real deal. On the other hand, jobs that you see for weeks and months at a time, or job postings that seem to appear, disappear, and reappear the next week, are probably not worth a ton of your time.

The bottom line is that there’s no real way to know for sure if a job posting is current or actually available. But there are some definite signs to look for. The bigger take-away from this situation is that if you’re making good impressions and getting positive feedback, it’s really just a matter of time. The job search is a longer process now than it used to be. Every positive response is a step in the right direction. When those recruiters tell you how great you sound, make sure to send a response thanking them for the correspondence and reiterating your excitement about working for their company. Then make sure to save that email and stay on top of their activity. Follow them on Twitter; follow their companies on Linkedin; keep checking their corporate career sites. That way when the right position opens up again you can respond to the email, at once reminding them that they liked you, showing your enthusiasm, and getting yourself to the top of the candidate pile.

So if you find yourself in the same situation as this reader, take a minute to pat yourself on the back for a job well done so far.

OK, enough patting. Now get back out there and get a job!

Do you have a question you’d like to see answered on this site? Send an email to HR.Dave1@gmail.com.

Questions or comments about this topic? Please leave them below.


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