Companies Are Posting ‘Ghost’ Job Ads, So How Can You Spot the Fakes?

Job ads

Job seekers will be frustrated to learn that there’s been uptick in ‘ghost’ job ads — ads for roles that don’t actually need to be filled. While the trend has only been reported in the US so far, it’s worth noting as it could eventually make its way here.

While recruiters or managers looking to hire have long been known to ‘ghost’ employees, taking them through parts or the whole of an interview process and then not responding to their calls or e-mails, ‘ghost jobs’ are listings employers are no longer actively hiring or recruiting for.

A survey by American boutique lending firm Clarify Capital found that 1 in 5 managers don’t plan to fill open job positions until 2023 and that 50% of managers keep job postings open because they’re “always open to new people”. One in 10 managers also admitted to having a job posting up for over six months.

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So, why are employers posting job ads they’re in no rush to fill? There are a few reasons: some want to give potential investors and/or current employees the appearance that the company is growing, some are hoping the perfect, all-around candidate might eventually apply, and some are doing so for research purposes, that is, wanting to get some insight into the market.

Companies might also want to show current employees who are working overtime that they are at least trying to onboard more resources. They may also advertise a role they already have a new employee in mind for so that it looks like they did a fair search, abiding by any recruitment laws.

Finally, jobs like mobile developers and software engineers are always in-demand, so keeping ads for these roles up to keep people applying for them can be more time-efficient for employers and lead to them getting the best possible candidate.

One reason recruiters think ghost jobs are on the rise is due to the heightened level of uncertainty since the start of the pandemic. Fears of a looming recession have made many hesitant to employ.

“That’s why you have some managers thinking, ‘My boss told me to hire someone, but am I going to have to lay them off in three months?’” Pat Pettiti, CEO of Catalant, an online platform connecting independent consultants for projects at large corporations, told Business Insider.

If you’re looking for a new job, how can you avoid wasting your time applying for ‘ghost jobs’? Joe Mercurio, project manager at Clarify Capital, says the best way to determine the quality of a job ad is to look at when it was posted.

“Checking to see when a job was posted could help prevent job seekers from applying for ‘ghost jobs,” Mercurio says. “A job that was posted 48 hours ago is more likely to be actively hiring than a job that was posted three months ago.’”

Ads with a decent salary but no real requirements to apply, poor spelling and grammar and pressure to start quickly could also be indicators of phoniness. Though, those ads might not even correlate to any real roles at all and might merely have been posted to collect your personal data to on-sell.

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