Fake "For Hire" Ads Plague Job Hunters As Employers Posting "Ghost Jobs"
While the official unemployment rate is sitting at multi-decade lows (notwithstanding this month's recent uptick), people still looking for work are getting jerked around by fake job ads - in which businesses are maintaining active job postings that they aren't actually trying to fill, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In a survey of more than 1,000 hiring managers last summer conducted by Clarify Capital, 27% said they had job ads up for more thyan four months. Of those who admitted they have postings that they weren't actively trying to fill, close to half said they did so to give the impression that the company was growing.
Others said they kept these "ghost job" ads up in order to maintain a list of ready applicants in case an employee quits, or in case an "irresistible" candidate applies.
"It’s a waste of time," says Will Kelly of Washington DC, who's been looking for marketing and writing jobs after decades of experience. When he was looking for a job in 2021, around 20% of the listings which interested him were being posted and reposted without evidence that anyone was actually hired.
"I first thought of it as an anomaly, and now I see it as a trend," he says.
Does this correlate to discrepancies we've recently noted in jobs data?
According to Nashville-based recruiter Vincent Babcock, the strategy risks turning off applicants who see the ads as misleading.
"They’re posting jobs with the intention of hiring, but not anytime soon," he said, noting that some companies might not even be looking to hire until Q3 or Q4.
For employers, constantly looking for talent can make sense, says Kelsey Libert, co-founder of Fractl, a digital marketing agency. She says her company keeps ads up for associate positions even when they aren’t hiring, because turnover for those jobs is often higher than other roles.
“Otherwise, you’re suddenly in a position where you need to spend a lot of money on LinkedIn ads to quickly drum up interest,” she says.
"It’s better for you to hedge by leaving some of those job openings up." -WSJ
What's more, some companies require that a job ad be posted, even if a candidate has been predetermined, to give the appearance of a fair hiring process for the role. Other times, it's a simple case of poor coordination within a large corporation, according to Stella Talent Partners founder, Elliott Garlock, who formerly worked in recruiting at Wayfair, Inc., where he says the online retailer frequently advertised for jobs that it wasn't actually hiring for.
"It’s not because we were ill-intentioned and out to trick the candidate market," he says.
That said, other companies might be reluctant to remove ads, Garlock says, because "we don’t want to signal we’re slowing down, so we’ll let these things ride."
How to avoid ghost ads?
Look for job descriptions with a ton of detail. The more specifics, such as schedules or a clear list of responsibilities, the more likely the employer is serious about the job, according to Scott Dobroski, VP of communications for Indeed, who also suggested checking the timestamp on ads to find recent postings.