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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

How Ghost Jobs Can Come to Haunt You

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Alpha Stock Images

They say it's hard to find good help.  While this little ditty has stood the test of time, the opposite can also hold true, especially in the age of the Internet.  While it's currently reported that there are some 9.5 million jobs posted online, not all the postings are legitimate.  What I mean by that is some of the postings are what's referred to as "ghost jobs." No, I'm not talking about applying for a job as a ghost buster.  Ghost jobs are help wanted ads posted by companies who have no intention of filling the position.  Some of these positions have already been filled, while others aren't currently available or don't exist at all.  Apply for a ghost job and you won't hear boo from the employer, no matter how well qualified you happen to be.  Not only does this waste your time, in some cases it can come to haunt you.  Below are ten things you need to do to identify and avoid ghost jobs, as well as what can happen if you don't heed my warning.

#1: The Great Resignation - Otherwise known as the Big Quit,  toward the latter part of the COVID pandemic in 2021, a tidal wave of resignations unexpectedly took place which left businesses struggling to find qualified replacements.  This resulted in a marked lack of employees which took nearly two years to fill.  As a result, many employers still have lingering anxieties that make them fear they could get caught in the lurch again.  As a result they continue to run help wanted ads even when they are fully staffed.  It's a kind of corporate hedge against inflation lest the next perfect economic storm catch them unprepared.  

#2: Why do employers post ghost jobs? - There are several other motivating factors other than anxiety that cause some employers to post ghost jobs.  According to a blog on tech, "Around 50% of hiring managers said they leave job postings active because they are always interested in finding potential employees, according to the Clarify Capital survey. Moreover, this survey found that 43% of the same group left listings open to give the impression that the company is growing and stable during uncertain economic times."

#3: Warning: High Turnover Ahead - Another reason that ghost jobs get posted is due to high employee turnover.  Companies like Amazon have more than a 100% turnover rate.  According to Forbes, the online e-tail giant has an employee turnover rate of 150%, which is double the industry average.  That means they have to continually look for applicants since they expect to lose more staff than they currently have on hand in any given year.  It also points to a questionable corporate culture that's willing to sustain this kind of turnover rate.  

Image courtesy Pixabay

#4: Testing the Talent Pool - Some employers simply want to test the potential talent pool when they post ghost jobs.  While they aren't currently hiring, they wish to gauge the caliber of applicants to determine how easy or difficult it would be to replace certain employees.  They can also use this kind of tactic to determine whether the compensation being offered is high enough to attract the employees they may need to hire in the near future.

#5: Scam Central - Like it or not, there are criminals out there who go to great lengths to ensnare hapless victims.  Why bother crafting complicated phishing and smishing messages when you can get the suckers to come to you by posting bogus help wanted ads?  If you get hooked by one of these guys, not only won't you be offered a position with the company, odds are they'll run you through the ringer to extract as much personal information as possible so they can rob you blind.  (Remote job offers are the most likely to fall under this category since you'll never get to meet your employer in person.)

#6: How do you avoid applying for ghost jobs? - First and foremost, make sure you only conduct job searches with credible sites that have a stellar reputation.  Newcomers should be avoided since they can be created by entities who are out to do you harm.  

#7: Make sure you double-check the date the job was posted. - Jobs that are more than a couple weeks old or ones that you see posted over and over again are obviously not viable.  I mean, if you can't fill a position in a month, something is wrong with the position or the employer who posted it.

#8: If you don't hear back, move on. - Don't waste time stewing over the fact that you didn't get a response from a potential employer.  And don't reapply when you see another posting by the same employer.  Just chalk it up to experience and realize that in all likelihood the posting was a ghost.

Image courtesy Pixabay

#9: Look before you leap. - Before sending your resume to anyone online it would behoove you to do a little online research.  What kind of reputation does the company have? Can you find any negative reviews?  Does the company even exist?  If you don't know who you're dealing with, don't risk applying for a job that could be a ghost or a trap.

#10: Be careful who you give your SSN to. - Be extremely cautious with any employer before you divulge your Social Security number.  Provide this data to a cybercriminal and you're going to soon come to regret the act.  With your SSN, a con artist can assume your identity and open credit cards, take out loans, or apply for your tax refund.  If you can't work with a trusted third party to get paid for remote work, look for another job opportunity rather than risk your financial future with someone you have only just met.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at

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