Phantom Job Postings (Why Many Jobs You See Aren’t Real)

Why would recruiters post listings for jobs that don’t exist? Why would companies list job openings, bring in interviewees, go far in the hiring process, and extend offers, only to put positions on hold and sometimes close the positions? In other words, why are therejob posting for which there don’t seem to be actual jobs?

Sometimes recruiters don’t know these jobs don’t exist. They may not have been told the job has been filled or has changed. So the posting stays up, jobseekers apply, and then the recruiter has to back track and pull the posting. Recruiting doesn’t actually start with the recruiter. Recruiting needs, process and timetable are determined by the hiring department, so unless the department that is hiring is HR, then the job search begins outside of HR and recruiting. Many times, the ultimate hiring department and HR do not communicate as well as they should.

Sometimes recruiters post jobs for general types of candidates that they need but with no specific opening yet determined. For example, when I recruited for a major media company, they often hired for similar jobs – edit assistant, sales coordinator, etc. Jobs like these would open frequently but not on a regular basis, and when they did, we needed to fill them fast. So we would post the jobs on a regular basis to develop pipelines of candidates that we could draw from when a job would officially open.

Sometimes the job parameters change. When firms go so far as to screen resumes and interview people, they do so with a specific job in mind. But sometimes the firm decides to hire a finance person instead of operations. Sometimes the budget changes (or disappears) so the search has to change (or disappear). Sometimes the position gets filled internally. There are many reasons why a search may start but stop.

There are many reasons why a job that is posted is other than what it seems. So don’t rely on job postings exclusively. Identify the decision makers for the areas that you want, and target them directly. Network into your dream company, so you can confirm what the open jobs are and keep abreast of changes. Have multiple leads to pursue so that you are not overly disappointed, frustrated, or reliant on any one job posting. This is an extraordinary market so you need extraordinary job search techniques.

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