Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Ghost jobs: Why are companies posting fake job ads online?

It's a dubious strategy, but it's one that pays off, if the managers surveyed by Resume Builder are to be believed

Published: Jul 2, 2024 05:37:10 PM IST
Updated: Jul 2, 2024 05:45:13 PM IST

Every year, a significant number of companies post fake job offers online, a survey reveals. Every year, a significant number of companies post fake job offers online, a survey reveals.
Image: ShutterstockEvery year, a significant number of companies post fake job offers online, a survey reveals. Every year, a significant number of companies post fake job offers online, a survey reveals. Image: Shutterstock

Have you ever applied for a dream job and never received a reply? Then you may have come across a fake job ad. While recruitment scams are usually the work of cybercriminals, companies are also posting ads for positions they have no intention of filling.

The Resume Builder website took a closer look at this phenomenon in a survey, for which it polled 649 managers involved in recruitment processes. Some 39% of them stated that their company had placed at least one fake job listing in the past year. The overwhelming majority of these ads were for middle managers (68%), although some were for positions of greater responsibility.

These "ghost jobs" were visible on the internet for varying lengths of time. Thirty-one percent of companies left them online on recruitment platforms for a month, and 9% for a year or more. In some cases, these were just unfortunate oversights. A human resources department doesn't necessarily think to go delete its various ads that may no longer be valid. But in other cases, it was a premeditated act.

Posting job offers gives a company greater visibility. It also gives the impression that the company is growing, as it seeks to take on new employees. But this is not necessarily the case in reality. In fact, some recruiters post fake job ads in order to receive all kinds of resumes. They then keep these documents on file so that they can call people back when a position actually becomes available.

What's more, some companies use "ghost jobs" to deceive their own employees. According to the managers questioned by Resume Builder, fake recruitment ads can be used to reassure employees who complain about their workload, by giving them the impression that reinforcements are on the way (63%). Meanwhile, 62% of those that listed fake jobs admitted that these listings are used as a means of pressure with regard to disengaged employees. These fake recruitment ads remind quiet quitters that they are not irreplaceable on the job market.

Also read: Job search advice for a tough market: Think broadly and stay flexible

It's a dubious strategy, but it's one that pays off, if the managers surveyed by Resume Builder are to be believed. Sixty-five percent of them say that false job offers have a positive effect on their employees' morale, and 77% believe that they help to increase their productivity.

But for job applicants, ghost jobs can be far more harmful. They represent a considerable waste of time, even if some applicants may eventually be contacted by recruiters for an interview. In the long run, these professional disappointments can discourage them in their job search and take their toll psychologically.

If you're looking for new professional opportunities, be cautious of recruitment ads you come across on the internet. Look carefully at the date the ad was posted. Also check that it features on the website of the company that posted it, and not just on job search sites. If you have any doubts, contact the company's human resources department to find out more.