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Ghost Jobs Are Now More Prevalent Than Ever, Here's How To Spot Them

The pandemic era job market struggles catapulted the phenomenon, and it has reached new heights
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Florian Schmetz
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Florian Schmetz

The rising trend of ghost jobs has gained significant attention on social media with more and more users reporting it. Ghost jobs are ‘open jobs’ that seem to be available eternally as they never get filled. These can be from companies that don’t exist or from companies that don’t intend to hire at all. The pandemic era job market struggles catapulted the phenomenon, and it has reached new heights in the recent past. This has only exacerbated the situation of job seekers who are already under pressure to navigate the tough job market


Ghost jobs are listing posted on job aggregating portals that seem to never get filed. The companies that post ghost jobs have little or no intention to fill them and the applicants most often don’t hear back from them at all. Some of these postings may stay listed even after someone was already hired for that position. These listings create a false sense of hope for job seekers, inflate the true number of jobs in the market and stretches the job search process.


Ghost job listings were a nascent phenomenon before the pandemic. However, the rise of people quitting during the pandemic called the Great Resignation and its economic uncertainty increased the number of ghost jobs, according to a Harvard Business School study.

According to a survey by Clarify Capital, about 68% of managers had open job postings listed for more than 30 days, and one in five managers who posted these openings had no plans to fill them in the near future. Furthermore, most recently, CNBC found that a basic search on LinkedIn showed about 1.8 million jobs had been posted for over a month ago.


Ghost Jobs exist for a number of reasons ranging from deception to a lack of hireable talent. Former hiring manager and founder of MandiMoney Makers, Woodruff-Santos shared an example with CNBC where a media company might post an opening for a “senior editor” and an “associate editor” for one available job just to broaden the talent pool drawn to the roles.

This was supported by a recent ZipRecruiter survey that showed 57% of employers lacked qualified candidates, while 41% failed to fill a vacancy within six months.

Furthermore, employers may leave job posts active for longer to give the perception their company is growing. Angela Champ, an HR executive, told GoBanking Rates that some companies may post ghost job listings as they may be receiving government or other funding for creating jobs.


Another self-serving reason for a company to post a ghost job might be to just gauge the labor market and analyse what kind of candidates may be available for them, Champ said. Finally, the ghost listing may be related to a scam that is trying to take advantage of job seekers who are desperate to work.

As a standard practice, job seekers should crosscheck if an attractive job listing on an aggregator is posted simultaneously on their dedicated job portal, website or social media as well.

Job seekers should also look at how long the job listing has been active for. If an opening has been active for over 30 days or 60 days, it may be a ghost listing. However, sometimes it may make sense to apply for an old listing for some positions that require specific or highly skilled applicants.

Furthermore, job seekers should steer clear of payment requests from recruiters or representative of a job listing. This may be a part of a scam that tricks job seekers into sharing critical information as well. Also, job seekers should avoid applying for job listings that do not reveal the company name. Listings where the company name is kept confidential could be a sign of a ghost job.