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Don’t Let Ghost Jobs Derail Your Job Search

Each morning after dropping my son off at school, I head straight to a local walking trail where I spend 45 minutes to an hour soaking up sun and enjoying nature while listening to my favorite podcasts. This morning, I was listening to The Clark Howard Podcast and the topic of discussion was job searching in the current job market. Clark touched on something I’ve been talking to my clients about since the 2008 recession – ghost jobs.

Now I never actually referred to them as ghost jobs (although it’s an apt title for sure). Ghost jobs are a frustrating reality of the job market, sure to become an even bigger issue as the job market slows.

Ghost jobs are jobs posted on job sites that as Clark Howard explained, “…are either not legit or don’t actually exist.” I couldn’t have said it better.

What are Ghost Jobs?

I first learned about ghost jobs in my first job right out of college as a Classified Advertising Rep with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I helped multiple organizations with posting their job announcements in the newspaper (just to give you an idea of just how long ago this was) and online.

A few of my accounts were municipal/City of Atlanta employers. They would run job announcements for 14 consecutive days, for every job opening. Or so I believed…

One day a municipal city government client contacted me to post their monthly job announcement. We’d worked together for about a year and were pretty friendly. When I received the job announcement, I jokingly said, “Wow, I should apply for this myself!”

My client laughed and said, “Well, the job is technically already filled (internally), but we still have to post it.” I asked why and she explained they liked to keep a current file of applicants in case the person selected for the job didn’t work out, and it also allowed them to audit the talent landscape of qualified applicants. I quickly learned that several other organizations were doing the exact same thing.

Why Companies Post Ghost Jobs

It’s not unusual for companies to post jobs on job boards that they have no intention of hiring for – or  are in no big rush to hire for. There are so many reasons behind this. Sometimes the person responsible for posting company job announcements will post an announcement even though the company is planning to promote someone from within. Some companies routinely post job announcements to monitor the talent pool of applicants for future opportunities.

Beware of Scamming Ghost Jobs

Clark touched on a much more insidious reason behind some of these ghost job announcements – scammers! Job search scams are nothing new, but the occurrence and sophistication behind these  schemes is increasing. One of the most common scams is the fraudulent job offer. It’s meant to mislead people searching for legitimate jobs to steal money (by charging an application fee, trying to get to you to deposit a check into your personal account, etc.) or stealing personal information from unsuspecting job seekers. Job sites do what they can to protect job seekers from these deceptive job posts, but like I said, these schemes are becoming even more devious.

I frequently share this information with my clients. It’s one of many reasons that I caution job seekers against relying solely on job boards to find a job and encourage them to put more energy into reaching out to their network for job opportunities. As Clark stated, “People hire people.” Most jobs are filled by connecting with people you know and people who know of you through your reputation and network connections.

Kimberly Ben is a multi-credentialed Professional Resume and LinkedIn Writer and Job Search Coach. She has written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and other career communications for multiple career industries and professions. Kimberly’s extensive education, training, and experience have resulted in a clear understanding of current hiring best practices and the most effective job search techniques, branding strategies, and insight on what it takes to gain the competitive edge and impress employers in a challenging job market.

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