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Posting Ghost Jobs is dangerous: 7 better ways to recruit great talent

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HR pros — even if it seems like a savvy business move, avoid this: Advertise jobs that don’t exist.

They’re Ghost Jobs. And criticism of the trend has quickly followed.

Job candidates are frustrated with finding — and wasting their time and resources applying to — jobs that don’t exist. Nearly 40% of job seekers say they’ve been ghosted in the past year, according to a Criteria’s Candidate Experience Study.

That’s likely because almost 30% of hiring managers admit they have jobs posted for more than four months even though they don’t intend to fulfill them, a Clarify Capital study found.

“Posting ghost job ads is both misleading and disrespectful to candidates,” says Josh Millet, Founder & CEO at Criteria. “Unless the opportunity is genuine, it can have serious negative consequences to the employer brand. You only need to look at Glassdoor or Reddit to see just how damaging.”

Why post Ghost Jobs?

Posting Ghost Jobs still might be a reaction to the rise of people quitting during the pandemic. Employers started posting jobs all the time out of fear it would be difficult to find talent, a Harvard Business School study found.

Now some employers say they have good reasons for posting Ghost Jobs. According to the Clarify Capital research, they say they want to:

  • keep resumés for future openings
  • make it appear that their company is growing
  • keep tabs on the job market
  • adjust hiring strategies when necessary
  • have a pool of candidates in case someone resigns
  • keep an eye out in case an “irresistible” candidate comes along, or
  • placate workers who say they’re overworked.

Candidates frustrated

“While this may seem like a harmless practice, Ghost Jobs can cause job seekers to get their hopes up and waste their time and effort on applications. Additionally, Ghost Jobs can cause employers to miss out on great candidates in the long run,” says James Neave, Head of Data Science at Adzuna.

Whether it’s intentional or not, keeping jobs posted longer than they’re relevant is not a good look for a company. Candidates who upload applications into a resumé black hole feel disrespected and cheated.

“Job seekers who invest time and energy in preparing their application, only to be ghosted or get the sense that the job does not actually exist, can end up frustrated, disappointed and disillusioned with the organization. This can also be damaging to the organization’s employer brand and reputation in today’s job market, where transparency and values are becoming increasingly important to job seekers,” says Neave. 

And guess where they often take that frustration? To social media — where they’ll slam your company and its hiring process, making it more difficult to find and hire good candidates when you really need them.

So here are seven ways to attract and hire the best candidates — so you never have to even consider posting Ghost Jobs or be accused of doing it.

Create detailed job descriptions

Ghost Jobs tend to have generic, all-encompassing job descriptions. Plus, they sometimes seem too good to be true — big salaries for remote work or unheard-of flexibility.

To make your authenticity shine through, create detailed job descriptions with a clear list of responsibilities, schedules and salary range.

Also, add a time stamp so candidates know it posted recently. If you don’t get enough qualified applicants, update criteria and the time stamp so candidates see it’s a real, unfulfilled job.

Make sure time and space align

Be diligent with your job listings, making sure none are posted longer than two weeks. If you haven’t filled the role — or are done taking applications while you move to the next steps in the hiring process — take down the original post for a few days and tweak it. Work with hiring managers to identify language that might not work in attracting candidates.

At the same time, ensure that your job posts on third party recruiting sites such as Indeed are aligned with the open positions advertised on your company website.

Extend your reach

Ask employees to share your job postings on their social networks — from LinkedIn to TikTok — where you can reach a larger, yet closer-knit, candidate pool.

Candidates will see it’s a real job posting, considering their “friend” posted it. And because the job is shared through social networks, your employees act as referrals for new candidates.

When you ask employees for help recruiting and authenticating your open positions, you build morale.

Be more transparent

“Employers should prioritize transparency throughout the hiring process. This includes being clear about the salary and benefits package, like details about key benefits such as parental leave, bonuses, and PTO,” says Neave.

You can include all that in job descriptions. But be sure to continue to communicate it throughout the hiring process to build credibility with candidates.

Communicate clearly

“Poor communication at any stage during the recruitment process is one of the key turn-offs for prospective employees,” says Millett.

Communication is about your brand’s reputation. Even when you avoid the dangers of posting Ghost Jobs, you can give candidates a bad impression if you don’t communicate frequently and clearly.

You want your hiring journey to include reminders to follow up on each step. Ideally, you’ll have automated responses, letting candidates know how one step went and what to expect and when in the next step — including a closure if either of you decide to end the process.

Give details on the interview process

Your job post will be extra attractive if you do more than just give a clear picture of the role: Give candidates a clear picture of the interview process.

“Providing details, including the number of stages and the timeline for each stage, can also be effective,” says Neave. “In addition, being upfront about the values and mission of the organization can attract candidates who care about what the company is trying to achieve and who are aligned with the same values. This can ensure the candidate is a good fit for the role and the organization.”

Scrub your hiring process

Most companies wouldn’t even consider posting Ghost Jobs if they were making great hires all the time. So why don’t they?

“For no good reason many potential employees are filtered out of hiring funnels by automated technology because they don’t have a bachelor’s degree, or because they don’t have a certain experience level, or because their resumé doesn’t have the right mix of keywords in it,” says Millett. “We need to be filtering people into our talent pipelines based on skills, ability and the potential they have, not filtering them out based on weak signals that are unreliable predictors of job success.”

So regularly scrub the system to be sure you aren’t inadvertently screening out great talent.

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