Money·3 min read

Real Companies Are Posting Fake Jobs. Here’s Why — And How to Spot Them.

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March 30, 2023

Ghosting isn’t just happening on dating apps anymore. If you've been hammering out applications and haven’t heard anything back, it could be more than just others with better resumes and interview skills. You could be applying for "ghost jobs" — a growing trend that legitimate companies are hopping on.

What are ghost job postings?

Ghost job postings or fake job postings are exactly what they sound like: Listings on a company’s site for certain positions…but the company isn’t actually hiring for the roles. (Though in some cases, it could be a fake job posting related to a scam.) Leaving candidates applying for a job and waiting to hear back. Ghost job postings can also lead to skewed info in reports like the gov’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Example: If 10 million openings are posted, but a number of them are fake, the job market may not be doing as well as it seems. 

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Why do companies make fake job postings?

A 2022 Clarify Capital survey, found that 500 of the 1,000 managers included in the study admitted to leaving jobs posted (and applicants waiting) indefinitely. The study found that companies post ghost jobs for a number of different reasons, like…

  • Reputation. Open roles can be a sign that a company is consistently growing. So those ghost job postings can make a company look more successful than it actually is.  

  • More options. If a company is constantly accepting applications, it continuously has a steady pool of potential candidates for when there is an actual opening. Even if that opening is nowhere in the near future.

  • Motivation. Some of the managers surveyed said ghost jobs are a good way to keep current employees motivated because it gives the impression that they could be let go and  their job is up for grabs — potentially leading to less quiet quitting

Yikes. How can I spot ghost job postings?

All those fake job postings floating around may be frustrating for candidates, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck waiting for an interview invite. There are a few steps you can take to help avoid fake jobs.

Read the fine print of the job application

There are two things you'll want to look out for specifically: One, how long the job application has been open. If you applied for a role over a month ago, and it's still posted, career experts say that could be a red flag. Two, the details of the job description. Experts agree that it's common for ghost jobs to be vague with the responsibilities of the role. The more detailed description, the higher odds are that it's the real thing.

Research the company

If the company recently had mass layoffs, hiring new employees may not be a top priority. Experts say candidates can use resources like to double check how well an employer is doing IRL. Mass layoffs don’t mean you should skip the app, but it’s a good idea to keep your options open. Just in case.


Ghost jobs might be a growing — and frustrating — trend, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to the indefinite waiting game. Make sure you’re applying for the real thing by taking a little more time to read the fine print. Time consuming, but worth it.  

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