Why Do Job Postings Have Closing Dates?

Reminder for important date
Oksana Struk / E+ / Getty Images

Most job postings have closing dates. This date is the deadline for applicants to turn in the job application and other required application materials as outlined in the job posting. The closing date is a milestone in the hiring process because all events before it build to it, and all events after are predicated on it passing.

Many times, it is the only certain date in the process. Other dates are targets and not absolutes.

Organizations want to accomplish their hiring tasks by established deadlines, but those dates are almost always flexible. For example, the human resources office wants to post jobs as soon as the postings are finalized, but other pressing tasks may cause the posting to sit unannounced for a few days.

While they are not always necessary, closing dates help both applicants and the organization.

Giving Applicants a Timeframe

The closing date gives applicants a timeframe. They use this date in prioritizing the actions they need to take in their job search. If a person intends to apply to a job posting that closes in three weeks and one that closes in two days, that person will almost certainly work on the materials for the posting that closes in two days before working on the other set of materials.

The closing date also helps applicants anticipate when they will hear back about the job. There is no way to tell for sure when this will happen, but experience is a good guide in this respect.

Many organizations do not notify applicants they were not selected unless they were granted an interview. Applicants who did not receive interviews are left to just give up after enough time passes.

Getting the Organization Moving

Hiring managers are almost always in a hurry to fill a vacant position.

They are often in a waiting mode between the time that a job posting is published and when it closes. In that time, that positions workload must be handled by other employees. This is doable in the short-term, but in the long run, it can lead to burnout among existing staff. The day after the closing date, the hiring process kicks into high gear.

Many self-service human resources systems give managers and human resources staff the opportunity to screen applications as they come in, but some managers prefer to wait to do this until all the applications are in. If good screening criteria is set up before the posting is published, it is unnecessary to wait until all the applications are in. Screening should be a process where applicants are measured against an objective set of standards, not against each other.

Working Without a Closing Date

Postings without closing dates are often positions that are difficult to fill or ones that come open frequently. An example of a position that is difficult to fill is a psychologist at a small-town state hospital. If the hospital left the job open for a month, it is unlikely to get a sufficient number of applicants. However, if the posting stays open for several months, the hospital can slowly build a viable applicant pool.

The downside to not having a closing date in this scenario is that applicants who submit their application materials early may not be interested in the position if it closes several months later. Those applicants may have already accepted jobs and ended their job search.

When positions come open often, that means that the organization has a sizable number of identical positions with high turnover. Correctional facilities and protective services agencies tend to have high turnover in their front line positions -- prison guards and social workers. Those organizations may post positions without closing dates so that they can continuously receive applications. Once a vacancy occurs, a hiring manager can request that the human resources office send all the applications that have come in since the last hiring process played out.

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