Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join us as we talk about…

In this week’s episode…

  • You’ll learn what a ghost job listing is
  • Next, you’ll learn the 5 main reasons why companies use ghost job listings
  • Finally, you’ll learn that ghost job listings aren’t going anywhere and why it’s important to be even more prepared.

“I’ve applied to hundreds of job postings” a PhD recently told me. “Using the same resume?” I asked. “No” they replied. “I targeted every resume. I’ve heard nothing back. In some cases I was sent a rejection email within the hour. What’s happening?!” “Ghost job listings.” I replied.

They asked me what a ghost job listing is and I explained that ghost job listings are jobs posted by real companies but they’re jobs that these companies have no intention of actually filling.

Of course, this PhD wanted to know why and I told them that the answer is painful for job seekers but useful for employers. The practice of posting ghost job listings can serve a variety of strategic and practical purposes for companies, helping them streamline their hiring processes and make informed decisions about their workforce.

There are 5 main reasons why companies do this. The first is for their future hiring needs. Some companies create job listings months in advance – like 6 months, even if they don’t currently have an immediate opening. This is often done to ensure that they have a pool of potential candidates to consider when a position becomes available. This can be especially useful in industries where the hiring process can be time-consuming and competitive.

The second reason is to maintain visibility. Posting job listings, even if they’re not currently active, can help a company maintain its presence on job search platforms and company career pages. This continuous visibility can help the company attract potential candidates who may be interested in working there in the future.

The third reason is testing the market. Sometimes, companies post job listings to test the market’s response to certain roles or qualifications. This information can help them refine their job descriptions and requirements based on the feedback they receive.

A fourth reason is competitive intelligence. By observing the candidates who express interest in ghost job listings, companies can gain insights into the job market and their competitors. This information can be valuable for understanding talent trends and positioning themselves competitively.

The fifth reason is resume collection. Companies may use inactive job listings as a way to collect resumes from potential candidates. These resumes can be stored in a database and reviewed when relevant positions open up, saving time in the future recruitment process.

The 6th and final reason is legal requirements or legal breaks. In some cases, companies may be required to post job listings publicly even if there isn’t an immediate intention to hire. This can be due to legal or regulatory obligations.

In other cases, companies can get regulatory breaks and even tax breaks for this. For example, if a company lays off a bunch of employees and then posts junior positions to replace those employees, even if they don’t intend to actually hire for those positions, the company can get certain regulatory and tax benefits.

It’s unlikely that knowing these reasons will make dealing with today’s overabundance of ghost job listings any easier for you to deal with. But it should reinforce the fact that ghost jobs are not a passing trend. These inactive job listings will only become more and more of a problem and you should be prepared to reach out to companies in person to ensure the jobs you’re interested in actually exist.

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