7 Red Flags That a Job Posting Isn’t Right for You

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There’s only so much time you have in a given week to search for jobs, so don’t waste it responding to bad job postings.

“You really shouldn’t spend much time applying to job ads anyway,” says Robert Hellmann, a career coach with The Five O’Clock Club, who urges job hunters to focus on networking and attending events offline. But when you do respond to job postings, it’s important to make sure the posting is good enough to justify the time it takes to apply. Otherwise, Hellmann says, you’ll spend hours tailoring your resume and cover letter only to end up in a headhunter’s slush pile – or worse, ending up the victim of a scam.

Here are seven job posting red flags that suggest that a position may not be right for you after all.

There is no email address provided.

The best job postings are the ones that include a name and personal email address for the hiring manager or human resources person handling the application. This way, you can look up that individual and personalize your application to him or her.

Unfortunately, many postings just provide a generic company email (jobs@companyX.com) or conceal the email address altogether. In rare cases, Hellmann says obscuring the name of the recipient can leave the job applicant vulnerable to scams because it’s harder to vet the posting. What’s more likely though is that your application ends up in a pile somewhere.

“If you are not clear who it is, often it’s a headhunter. So you will spend all that time applying for the position only to end up just another resume on file, and there is a 0.01% chance they will contact you,” Hellmann says.

That doesn’t mean you should never apply to a posting with a generic company email, but if you only have an hour to respond to a job posting, your best bet would be to pick one with a personal email address listed or else to dig around online for another contact at that company.

There is no specific position mentioned.

Sometimes the goal of a job posting isn’t to fill a specific position so much as to gather up a pool of resumes to reference for future job openings. The easiest way to tell is to look at the wording of the job posting. Is the company describing one particular position or a skill set that it is looking to fill?

Jennie Dede, the vice president of recruiting at Adecco Staffing U.S., offers the following classic example of the latter: “Local company has numerous Web developer positions available. If interested, please submit resume and we will call you with more details.”

Again, it may still be worth applying to the position at some point just to get your resume in their system when a position does become available, but if you’re hoping for a job in the immediate future, this probably isn’t right for you.

The job description doesn’t match the job title.

Along the same lines, you should pay close attention to the job description to make sure that it is consistent with the job title given. Just because a company says it’s hiring a “manager” doesn’t mean the job will be a managerial position.

“Companies can call someone anything – they can call the person who gets coffee the COO,” says Penelope Trunk, founder of the Brazen Careerist, a career management website. “The job description isn’t a contract. It’s the art of misleading: They want the job to sound as good as it possibly can without attracting a candidate who is going to quit.”

So if you’re looking to advance your career by taking on a managerial position, but you notice the responsibilities listed in the posting are mostly duties you’d associate with an administrative assistant, it might make sense to ignore the posting or ask the company to clarify the job.

The pay range is too large.

Few things attract applicants like a good salary, which is why many recruiters try to be as broad as possible when listing the pay range in the posting. However, if the pay range is particularly large, don’t expect to receive a salary at the higher end of the spectrum.

“If you are thinking you have to make $25 an hour and the pay range is $10-$30 an hour, most likely they are trying to get towards the lower end, but they are trying to attract the kind of people who may need a little bit more,” Dede says.

If your main reason for applying to the job is to receive the upper end of the salary range, you might want to think twice.

The job posting has been up for more than 30 days.

Before you get too excited about the job posting, take a minute to see when it was originally posted. As a general rule, Hellmann says that any posting that has been up for more than 30 days probably isn’t worth the time it will take you to apply because there’s a decent chance it has been filled already and the recruiter simply forgot to take it down.

That said, Dede urges job hunters to be mindful of the kind of position that is being advertised. If the posting is for a very general position like a customer service representative, the recruiter might deliberately leave it up knowing that there will be similar openings in the future. In that case, it might be worth submitting your resume given that new opportunities will pop up, but just keep in mind that there may be no such job at the moment.

You can’t meet the basic requirements.

Some job requirements are more negotiable than you might think. For example, if a job posting says you need to have at least five years’ experience, you may be able to get by with less if you can show you’re far enough along in your career in terms of responsibilities and accomplishments. But if the posting specifically says you need a certain degree or certification, which you don’t have, Dede says it’s probably not worth applying. Likewise, if the posting says there will be a background check or drug test and you know you won’t pass these, don’t waste your time.

The posting asks for too much personal information.

Most companies will require that you provide your name, email address, home address, phone number and work history as part of the application process, but if the job posting asks you to give any more than that, you may be in trouble.

“If they ask you for your Social Security number or your driver’s license number, I would totally ignore it. That kind of stuff is not appropriate,” Hellmann says, noting that this suggests it’s probably a scam. The same is true if the posting asks you to pay a fee or provide your credit card number in order to apply.

You have enough to worry about in the job-hunting process – identity theft shouldn’t be one of those concerns.

Seth Fiegerman is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at seth.fiegerman@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.

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