A Couple Questions on Fake Job Postings

An email discussion with Elaine prompted my blog item this week. Last’s week’s thread ended up having some fun discussion.

Elaine: Do you think search firms are posting ads for jobs that don’t exist so that when the economy turns around, they have a pool of resumes to search among? 

Dave: If anyone is doing that they are doing nothing more than learning an expensive lesson. That would be just plain stupid. That said, I am sure someone IS doing that somewhere. My guess is that bigger companies in search or staffing or any field are more likely to do that than smaller ones and some probably do it all the time and not just in times like this.  I firmly believe that experienced recruiters from companies in the industry average 1 to 5 person sized companies are not doing this because they are too busy trying to make a placement happen.

Elaine: Is this really the case or are job hunters just assuming ads are bogus because they aren’t getting called for interviews? If these do exist, how can job hunters tell them apart from ads for positions available right now? Does it pay for job hunters to apply anyway?

Dave: I had not heard that job hunters were assuming job postings are bogus. That’s probably the knee-jerk reaction anyone would have if they didn’t get called. Back when I had some experience with postings and responses around 1999 to 2001 I found the vast majority of respondents to be stunningly unqualified for the positions they applied for. I don’t even use boards anymore but I talk with people who do and it seems like nothing has changed.

I’d guess most jobs are real when they are posted but consider this. 

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If, say, IBM needs a Java software engineer and they post the need on their website and they give it also to the, oh, maybe 100 people on their ‘approved vendor list’ who also then turn around and rewrite it a bit and post it on their own site and aggregators like indeed.com and boards like Top Echelon it now looks like there are a couple hundred software jobs. So even if an actual Java software engineer replies to only 20 of them and hears nothing because of all the noise and dilution he thinks it is fake…Then consider that it is probably being mostly responded to by some COBOL veteran who wants to work for IBM so he can LEARN Java.

To tell you the truth Elaine, I hope this never changes. It is just job security for those of us who do what we are paid to do.

As for the part about whether it pays to apply anyway…I just can’t think of any response to that that I would want to see and claim 5 years from now. I’ll put it this way…as useless as I think it is, I’d probably do it myself if I were in their shoes. I’d just treat it the same as I do when I pray for that 7 to make my inside straight. (i.e. ain’t gonna happen and I have no right to ask).

Dave Staats places top executives as well as implementation consultants with software companies. He also has made more placements in Artificial Intelligence than any other headhunter. His career began during the SDI (Star Wars) years and included placement of scientists in laser, stealth, and other high-tech fields. During a short hiatus from the recruiting industry in 1994 he obtained a Private Investigator's license which he keeps as a constant reminder that a headhunter is what he really is. Dave is on the Board of Directors of The Pinnacle Society and a founder of The Tennessee Recruiters Association. He has a BA from Western Illinois University. Dave also blogs at Truth, Justice & the American Way of Headhunting


4 Comments on “A Couple Questions on Fake Job Postings

  1. I am aware of several hiring companies that are running ads for non existent jobs right now to bolster their candidate databases. Also, this gives their internal recruiting department something to do and something they can try to sell to senior management as a reason why they shouldn’t have their jobs cut. I don’t think that’s going to work for very long. I’m pretty sure that the major retained search firms run “database builder” ads all the time but I am not in a position to testify to that.

    As for me, I’ve never posted a job board ad anyway, but if it was my practice to do so I couldn’t possibly post database builder ads right now. I’m far too focused on absolutely filling the few searches that I currently have. Any spare time is spent trying (and failing, flailing?) to keep up with the tsunami of resumes that are pouring in on a daily basis without any ad postings to spur them on.

    I am getting numerous phone calls and emails each day from people who are spectacularly unqualified for jobs we have posted on our website. Also, incredibly overqualified candidates – Senior Vice Presidents trying to sell me on why they would be perfect for that Product Manager job. Although it is time consuming, it behooves us to be kind. Most recruiters seem to be just blowing people off (I’m getting a lot of heartfelt Thank You’s just for calling people back). People are desperate out there. They aren’t just losing their jobs; they have run up credit card debt and bought houses that they were stretching to afford AND then they lost their jobs. People’s employers are treating them like commodities; they don’t need us to be treating them that way as well. Recruiters would do well to put themselves into the shoes of the desperately unemployed – by the end of 2009 a lot of recruiters will be wearing those shoes for real.

    Tom Keoughan

  2. Rather than posting here and there, I though I would list some of sites who offer jobs in Marketing industry, If you have experience with good web site who offer such marketing jobs and they are not listed here, please let us know.


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