What Are ‘Ghost Jobs’ and Why Are They Everywhere Now?


Recruiters are reportedly posting job vacancies – for which they have no intention of hiring – online and open to applications, much to the chagrin of job seekers.

Amid ongoing economic worries, those “ghost jobs” could increase, according to insiders.

Insiders spoke to a person named “Will,” who said he’s spent hours every day applying for jobs — about 300 jobs over the past six months — to no avail.

He added that his friends who also have MBAs or masters degrees are having similar experiences.

“There are too many vacancies,” he said. “It’s almost comical.”

What is a “ghost job”?

An early reference to the practice took place in 2013 Wall Street Journal Article that warned readers to “beware of phantom job postings,” in this case referring to job postings that were just posted so the company could hire an already known candidate.

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In 2020, Forbes reported that the uncertainty caused by the pandemic would likely lead to a rise in “ghost jobs,” which, for example, were still posting vacancies at companies that were on hiring freezes.

The longer a job has been online, the more likely it is to be a ghost story, Forbes added.

Clarify Capital reiterated this point in a recent survey that discussed the phenomenon of “ghost jobs” and specifically asked managers why they engaged in the practice.

Why would a recruiter or employer leave a “ghost job” list open?

Experts told Insider that there are several reasons for this.

Clarify Capital said in its survey that 50% of hiring employees with open vacancies — but who don’t actually try to fill them — said they do so because they are “always open to new people.”

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Additionally, 43% of the group said they kept job postings open to “give the impression that the company is growing”. Tech, for example, has laid off about 39,000 workers this year as it adapts to non-pandemic consumer needs.

Also, given mixed signals in macroeconomic data and recession rumbles, companies cannot predict where the economy is going and when they will need help, another expert said.

Pat Petitti, CEO of Catalant, which helps large companies find independent advisors, told Insider that his company’s clients “struggle with the way they think about how to do strategic work because the rapidly changing the contours of their business.”

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Allyn Bailey, a director at Smart Recruiters, told Insider that some positions are “evergreen.”

“That way, they have a pipeline to leverage when they’re ready,” she said, noting that it’s probably not a good strategy for building long-term goodwill in the labor market.

Still looking for ghosts

Meanwhile, Will and his friends are still writing resumes on LinkedIn, he told Insider.

“I see all these articles about how companies can’t hire people fast enough and how there are all these job openings,” he said.

“But I also look at my own personal experience and I see other highly qualified candidates not getting interviews or not getting jobs, and I’m like, ‘Something’s wrong with the system.'”



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