Understanding the electronic structure and dynamics of semiconducting nanomaterials at the atomic level is crucial for the realization and optimization of devices in solar energy, catalysis, and optoelectronic applications. We report here on the use of ultrafast X-ray linear dichroism spectroscopy to unravel the carrier dynamics in epitaxial ZnO nanorods after band-gap photoexcitation. By rigorously subtracting out thermal contributions and conducting ab initio calculations, we reveal an overall depletion of absorption cross sections in the transient X-ray spectra caused by photogenerated charge carriers screening the core-hole potential of the X-ray absorbing atom. At low laser excitation densities, we observe phase-space filling by excited electrons and holes separately. These results pave the way for carrier- and element-specific probing of charge transfer dynamics across heterostructured interfaces with ultrafast table-top and fourth generation X-ray sources.