Skip to content

OH: Ghost jobs are haunting job market, be wary when applying in 2024

The job search for 2024 applicants is hopeful yet troubling. – Photo by kate.sade /

Since the employment impacts of COVID-19 have slowed, companies have been listing job postings like never before. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows that there is less than one unemployed person for every job opening available in the U.S.

Employers created more than 300,000 jobs last month, and 5.2 million jobs were added over the course of last year.

Despite reports of more job openings than ever before, many individuals believe finding work to be nearly impossible.

In September 2023, more than 9 million open positions were posted, but only 2 percent of those positions were filled by October.

That is because companies are enabling a new corrupt practice called "ghost" jobs. A listed job that may not even exist.

When going on LinkedIn, Handshake or any other job search site, one can find thousands of job listings that match their unique skills.

On these sites, individual users create profiles listing their qualifications and skills similar to social media biographies, and employers post open positions for users to apply for.

But as of late, job seekers have been irritated by the lack of responses from companies regarding posted job listings.

This problem is not unique, as more than 73 percent of applicants have fallen for a ghost job opening, according to an online survey from Business Standard.

Joe Mercurio, a project manager at Clarify Capital, believes many companies are not as desperate to find applicants as job sites may insist.

"Despite 96 percent of employers claiming they're actively trying to fill an open role quickly, 40 percent of employers don’t expect to fill their active job posts for 2-3 months," Mercurio said.

According to a survey conducted by Clarify Capital, 43 percent of employers admitted to posting fake job openings to give the impression that the company is growing and 37 percent of employers want to keep an active pool of applicants in case an employee leaves the company.

"Whatever the reason, it definitely looks like many companies are not actively trying to fill the positions they have posted right now," Mercurio said.

Andrew Gonzales, an economics YouTuber with one million subscribers, believes companies are posting fake job openings for a more cynical reason.

"If companies can keep their standards high and still fill the roles they need, then they will win by not having to pay for staff training," Gonzales said. "If they can't, then they still win because they get to complain about how it's too hard to find workers with the right skills."

While it may be immoral for corporations to claim how underqualified applicants are when never intending to hire anyone in the first place, it is not illegal, because companies can dictate their own hiring policies unless it violates any rules made by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

There are no immediate solutions available to tackle ghost jobs, but due to growing concerns about fake job postings, many experts believe there are signs to help sniff out a fake open position.

Scot Hulshizer, founder of the Acuity Advisory Group, lists a few major red flags to look out for when applying.

"There are some red flags. There's no way to know for certain as a candidate. But jobs that have been posted for a really long time — that is a major red flag. There is a lot of activity in the career space right now, so a lot of applicants. So a job should probably be posted, on average, for two or three weeks," he said.

Hulshizer also believes that vague requirements are something candidates should also be wary of.

"Another indicator is if the job requirements are really vague, especially … if the company has other postings available," he said. "They should have the same set of criteria for writing job descriptions. So that's another good one to look at, just to confirm that there is really something on the other side of this."

I am not writing this to discourage people from applying for an entry-level job or internship. But, at the same time, the labor market is not ideal. This does not mean giving up on finding a job, but no one should be stressed about failing to be hired for positions companies never intended to fill in the first place.

Even when job hunting may seem hopeless, differentiating yourself from other applicants can greatly improve your success. In today's age, personal brands can serve as an alternative for people struggling with finding a job and opportunity. 

Applying early can also show initiative, especially if there are rolling deadlines. All hope is not lost, you just have to keep on applying until something lands.

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe