Navigating Ghost Job Postings: How to Avoid Them

Navigating Ghost Job Postings: How to Avoid Them

A​​voiding ghost job postings is a crucial aspect of a successful job search.

Job searching can be a daunting task, especially with the risk of encountering scams or fraudulent job postings. Ghost job postings, which refer to open job positions that are not actively being filled, are a common issue that jobseekers should be aware of. According to a survey by New York-based financial consultancy Clarify Capital, 50 percent of hiring managers post ghost job openings to keep their options open for new talent despite no urgent plans of filling them.

A Harvard Business School study highlights that ghost job postings are becoming more prevalent due to increased job quitting during the pandemic. Employers are struggling to find new talent and may post ghost job postings to assess the potential talent pool. Even companies that have imposed hiring freezes may still have job postings listed. The uncertain and unpredictable economic conditions have led employers to use ghost job postings to evaluate the ease of replacing current employees.

Hence, identifying and avoiding ghost job postings is crucial for jobseekers to save time and find a genuine career opportunity. By staying alert and applying a few key strategies, you can increase your chances of success and avoid the frustration of dealing with false job listings. 

Stay informed

Before applying for a job, it’s advisable to assess the company’s stability, particularly in the tech industry. Morgan Sanner, a résumé writer with a Master’s in Human Resource Management, suggests visiting to verify a company’s hiring status before applying. The website covers a wide range of layoffs in companies of all sizes and provides information on the number of employees impacted and their percentage of the workforce. This information can help in determining the authenticity of job postings and the chances of a successful hiring outcome.

Look for specific details

To minimize the chance of applying for a “ghost job”, Allyn Bailey, the Executive Director of Hiring Success at SmartRecruiters, recommends searching for specific job duties in the job description. If the position has specific requirements, it’s a good sign that the company is actively seeking to fill it. 

If the job listing is generic or has been posted for over 30 days, it could be a “ghost job”. However, Allyn suggests applying anyway, as it won’t hurt. However, be aware that you may simply be adding your name to the company’s pool of potential candidates and will likely not get an immediate response.

Timing is everything

Along with looking for specific job duties in the job description, examine the posting dates of job ads closely, as they can give important insight into the company’s level of urgency to fill a position. According to Joe Mercurio, project manager at Clarify Capital, job ads posted recently (e.g. 48 hours ago) are more likely to be actively hiring than those posted for a longer period (e.g. three months ago).

Pay attention to company trends

Jobseekers should also be mindful of patterns and tendencies within a company to determine if a job posting is genuine and actively being filled. Observing the frequency of job postings for a specific role, for instance, can provide insight into the company’s recruitment and employee retention. Frequent job postings may suggest difficulties retaining employees, while consistent updates and regular hiring could indicate a growing and thriving business.

According to Sanner, companies may already have a preferred internal candidate but still want to explore other potential options. 

To determine if this is the case, she suggests checking websites such as Glassdoor or Comparably for ratings of the interview process and the number of reviews indicating that the role went to an internal candidate. Although every hiring manager may have a unique approach, she believes it is still important to be aware of company trends.

Ghost job postings can often appear to be real job opportunities, but you may not hear back from them any time soon. Being vigilant and taking steps to verify the authenticity of a job posting can save you time and prevent potential disappointment in your job search. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and do your due diligence when considering a job opportunity.

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