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 the only way to identify a ghost job listings
  • Next, you’ll learn the several hacks to assist with identifying them
  • Finally, you’ll learn that that being strategic and selective with job applications will help avoid applying for ghost job listings

Every time I tell a PhD that the only way to identify a ghost job listing is to reach out to a hiring manager at the company I’m met with groans. “Ugh, well I know that Isaiah” or “But I don’t know any hiring managers.” Of course you don’t know any hiring managers.

You haven’t done your research. You hate reaching out to strangers. Welcome to the club. Cold contact is painful. But that is where you win. Most people won’t face that pain.

I do have a few hacks you can try though. None are going to be as good as talking to someone at the company to get the indisputable inside information you need to know the job is open now and they’re trying to fill it now. Still, there is some value to these hacks.

First, look at the date the job was posted. If a listing has been up for a long time, it’s more likely to be a ghost listing. One report featured in Microsoft Careers found that 27% of managers keep inactive job listings up for over four months, often for reasons such as motivating employees or creating the impression of company growth or to feign growth to competitors, shareholders and investors.

To avoid wasting time, job seekers are advised to prioritize applying for roles posted within the past two weeks. Unfortunately, many job posting platforms including LinkedIn and Indeed now allow companies to automatically refresh jobs every week or two. So this hack is quickly becoming obsolete.

Another hack is to cross-reference the company’s career website. Many job boards scrape job listings from company websites, so a job may still appear on external platforms even if it’s no longer open on the company’s site. So be sure to try visiting the company’s website directly and applying through their official channels to ensure the listing is still active.

Some other hacks include setting up alerts on specific job board sites that can help job seekers tailor their search and be among the first to apply for new positions.

Additionally, applying on a Sunday may increase the chances of standing out to recruiters, as they often review fresh applications at the beginning of the week.

But, as I mentioned at the start, if you are genuinely interested in a role, the most effective path for screening out ghost job listings is to directly reach out to the hiring manager to inquire about the status of the listing, or potential hiring manager – don’t stress if you don’t get the right person right away.

This proactive approach can help establish a connection with the company, even if the position is no longer available. It may lead to future opportunities or informational conversations that can benefit the candidate.

In summary, looking at the posting date, cross-referencing the company’s website, setting up alerts, applying on specific days of the week, and directly reaching out to inquire about the status of a listing are all strategies that can help you identify ghost job listings.

Overall, the goal is to be strategic and selective in job applications to increase the chances of landing a job when it is genuinely available.

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