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

Recruiters are reportedly leaving job openings — that they don’t intend to hire for — posted online and open to applications, much to the chagrin of job seekers.

Amid continued economic anxiety, these “ghost jobs” could be on the rise, according to Insider.

Insider spoke to a person named “Will,” who said he has spent hours each day applying for jobs — approximately 300-odd jobs in the last six months — to no avail.

He added his friends, who also have MBAs or master’s degrees, are having similar experiences.

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

What is a ‘ghost job’?

One early reference to the practice occurred in a 2013 Wall Street Journal article that warned readers to “beware the phantom job listing,” referring in that case to job notices just posted so the company could hire an already-known candidate.

In 2020, Forbes reported that the uncertainty caused by the pandemic was likely causing a rise in “ghost jobs” with listings still posted at companies that had hiring freezes enacted, for example.

The longer a job had been online, the higher the likelihood it’s a ghost notice, Forbes added.

Clarify Capital echoed that point in a recently posted survey where it discussed the “ghost job” phenomenon, particularly asking managers why they are engaging in this practice.

Why would a recruiter or employer leave a ‘ghost job’ listing open?

Experts told Insider that there are several reasons.

Clarify Capital said in its survey that 50% of hiring personnel with open job postings — but who are not seeking to actually fill them — said they are doing so because they are “always open to new people.”

In addition, 43% of the group said they left job listings up to “give off the impression that the company is growing.” Tech, for one example, has laid off around 39,000 workers this year as they adjusted to non-pandemic consumer needs.

Plus, between mixed signals in macroeconomic data and recession rumbles, companies can’t predict where the economy is going and when they’ll need help, another expert said.

Pat Petitti, CEO of Catalant, which helps big businesses find independent consultants, told Insider his company’s clients “are struggling with how they think about how to get strategic work done because the contours of their business are changing rapidly.”

Allyn Bailey, 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 is probably not a good strategy for building long-term goodwill out in the job market.

Still hunting for ghosts

Meanwhile, Will and his friends are still punching out applications on LinkedIn, he told Insider.

“I’m seeing all of these articles about how companies cannot recruit people fast enough and how there are all these job openings,” he said.

“But I’m also seeing my own personal experience and seeing other highly qualified candidates who can’t get interviews or can’t get jobs and I’m like, ‘Something is wrong with the system.'”

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