I'm finishing my PhD, and one of the major questions I have is what is my market value outside the academia.

I realised that one of the methods to evaluate my market value is to apply to positions the best I can and measure the response. The response (even the absent of) allows me to judge whether my qualifications for that particular position are above or below the demand.

What I realised is that this procedure can be independent of my willingness to accept that particular position. I may only be interested in knowing what is my value e.g. on that particular industry. The advantage is that the application's response contains relevant information about my value.

This allows to interpret an application as putting an "ask" on a particular stock (e.g. a position) of the stock market (of open positions), and see if there is a "bid" (positive response) covering it. The difference is that I do not need to accept that bid. Yet, knowing that that bid covered my ask already contains relevant information about the ask itself in relation to the market.

Naturally, "ask"&"bid" can be interchanged by interchanging "open position"&"application": a company can put an open position (now an "ask") without the purpose of filling it. The applications (now "bids") that it receives (and which will refuse) already provide information about its "ask".

From the argument above, I conclude that the purpose of an application is not necessarily to apply for that position, and an open position is not necessarily to be filled. Gathering information about the market can be the objective (e.g. for creating a future opening).

This conclusion was a bit shocking to me because it does not allow to distinguish between a "market survey" (on which bids are refused) from a "market offer" (on which bids are accepted). I suspect the conclusion may be wrong.

Consequently, I ask: is it possible to distinguish the two cases? What is the purpose of an application?

  • 6
    "What is the purpose of an application?" Getting a job. I'm not sure why you're trying to establish some sort of scientific method analysis of a (fake?) job search but there are much easier and accurate ways of determining your market value. See: How can I determine a reasonable salary to ask for?/. Please don't try to gamify this
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 10:49
  • You might want to rephrase the question by removing the whole "ask&bid" thing. The fact is some job offers are not real and are "probes" and some people go to interviews without any intention to take the job. hat should be enough introduction to ask how you can distinguish them early on. But I sense the question you're asking yourself is a bit broader, about the job market and its conventions. Maybe you can find and write that clearly.
    – Puzzled
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 12:23
  • @Joe : your real world is not my real world. But I guess it's market-related. In French IT consutling world(80% of french IT jobs), those games are common on both sides. Most companies have a very low reputation on that market, but as everyone is low, one more reputation hit does not matter.....
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 13:24
  • If you do the numbers, you shouldn't care whether applications are "real" or not. In the end, you're only going to accept one applicant per open position. If some of the other applicants turned out to be "fake", they will surely be filtered out by your application process. You might be a little annoyed when you discover they are not serious, but the end result is the same (no hire).
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 14:50

3 Answers 3


I think you forgot one thing, the "cost" for a company to publish an offer about open positions, screening "the bids", and making interviews. It's a really important cost. This makes this case rare.

Small companies doesn't have time for that, and big companies have enough real open positions to gather the information they need. The only "false offers" I heard of where more fore communication purposes "We publish offers, people will think we recruit a lot, and then that we are a successful company" or in order to collect resume for later expected positions in some (bad) firms.

From a candidate point of view, I don't see the point of sending a resume for a position that is absolutely not relevant to what you want to do to gather data. And if the position is relevant and you receive an interesting offer, I don't see the point not considering it. You might start with the less promising applications first in order to train yourself and to gather information, but for me it wouldn't be just a "market survey".


No, in general, it's not. Some candidates really want the job, but are so stressed that they are perceived as unmotivated. Others, well-trained and at ease, will be seen as very motivated, while they have no intention whatsoever to take the job.

In a country like France where jobless people risk losing their jobless fee if they don't have enough interviews, the purpose is often to keep the fees, not to get the job. But even more often, it is to take the job(as the pay is better than the fee, usually, much better). The potential employer cannot know.

And, of course, many employers are just making marketing for themselves, or sometimes even just trying to get secrets from the candidate(had that once, it's very uncomfortable, once you understand).

In other words, motivations are multiple on both sides of the interviews. And you may lose your time in interviews, as much as interviewers know they might be losing their time with you. Or me. When you understand, it's usually very late, typically at the end of the interview, or maybe even after.

That being said, going to interviews is always a good idea. Whatever your purpose is. Because being interviewed is a skill. And training on the field is an excellent way to improve that skill.


As for the second question you answered it. The purpose of an application is to actually look for a job or pretend to look for a job to get information.

How do you know if it is real job? You don't. But most real companies don't post fake jobs as it cost money and what would they gain. Salary range for skill and location is established by the market and readily available. If it is a real company, with a real HR, physical address, and logical job description then you can be confident it is a real job.

And the down side of posting fake offers is if word gets out then people will stop applying for real offers. For sure word will get out with head hunters. At a University they will not allow them back on campus to recruit.

As for your logic of know value. A job posting will have a pay range and an interview is not a job offer. An offer for an interview provides partial information about a range of you value.

The only real value may be what kind of jobs would you be considered for in the private sector.

Long winded what if partial analytics like your question does not really fly in the private sector. Academia is probably a better choice for you.

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