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Job Seekers Beware: Ghost Jobs are Everywhere


Dark, abandoned office with a messy, neglected desk and a desk lamp with spider webs hanging from it.

Lately, it seems like employers are posting for job positions that never get filled. Even more frustrating, oftentimes applicants interview with a company and despite positive signs, it never goes anywhere.

Ghost jobs are unfortunately becoming an all too prevalent part of the job search process.

Ghost jobs or fake job ads are ones that that a company posts but has no intention of actually filling. But why are companies doing this? How can you recognize ghost jobs? And what can you do instead?


What are ghost jobs and why do they exist?

Ultimately, ghost jobs are listings for open positions within a company but for which they have no real plan to hire for. So, what purpose could this practice possibly serve? While there are some positions that companies are always looking to fill, a recent study reflects that almost 50% of companies leave ads active on purpose, regardless of whether they plan to fill the position or not. Forbes indicates that two major reasons for the existence of ads like these are to give the impression of company growth and to keep a pool of replacements on hand if someone quits.

Another tactic by employers is to keep postings open to put pressure on existing employees to perform for fear they can or will be easily replaced.

Leaders who try to give an artificial impression of growth will typically end up creating a negative impact on the perceived value of the company and brand, not to mention that building on job insecurity and fear can lead to high employee turnover and low morale. Despite these potentially negative outcomes, many companies continue to implement this practice.


How can you recognize ghost jobs?

One of the key indicators that a posting might be a ghost job is that the ad has been open for an extended period of time.

There’s no set amount of time for a posting to live before it becomes a ghost but any job posting that is older than 3-4 weeks could be suspicious and might need more scrutiny.

Another thing to look out for is the wording of the post itself. If a company has no intention of filling a job, they often will leave the requirements and responsibilities vague. Again, this isn’t a certain sign but taken into account with other factors, it can make a compelling case. However, even with these signs, it’s still totally possible to miss a ghost job and end up wasting your time and energy. How can you avoid this?


What can you do to avoid a wild ghost chase?

If you’re not sure if a job posting is legit or not, what can you do? It might take some digging but here’s a few methods to help narrow it down. For starters, research the company itself. How is the company doing? Do they seem to be growing or have they recently laid people off? If the company is growing and expanding, the job post might be real after all. On the other hand, if they appear to be struggling, experiencing high turnover, or going through layoffs, the posting is a lot less believable. Another approach is to check out the company website to make sure the position and listing are still active outside of job boards and online search sites.

You can also use your professional connections and social networks to discover more about the company.

This can provide valuable insights and help you avoid chasing a ghost job.


While ghost jobs might be a growing phenomenon, no one wants to waste time chasing after something that will lead away from a successful outcome. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep ahead of this disheartening trend so that you can find real job postings… and a job that is perfect for you. Make sure you’re ready for the interview and job offer once that happens by checking out our expert resources on how to win the game of salary negotiation as well as other valuable career resources, resume help, and job seeker tips.

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