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January 21, 2018 9:15 pm

Career Advice – How To Recognize Fake Job Ads

Jan 28 2011 in Featured, Job Boards, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

career advice, job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career information, career help, career tips, career info, job search info
I read an article by Jeff Dickey-Chasins, The Job Board Doctor, that was directed towards recruiters and owners of job boards. Jeff is a consultant to job boards themselves and provides an eye opener to candidates who often complain about the number of “fake” job postings on the major job boards.

Fake job postings definitely are out there, from my personal experience. Here’s some ideas how to best deal with them.

When I managed offices for a leading international recruiting firm, my offices were required to have a minimum number of jobs posted each week … even if we didn’t have enough current job orders. This requirement was audited as part of our offices’ performance and reported all the way up to the President of the company.

In addition, even if we had job orders, we were required to post additional ads for “typical” jobs that we often filled … even if there wasn’t an immediate need for that specific job. Part of what drove this requirement was my company’s relationship with CareerBuilder. My prior employer was one of CareerBuilder’s largest advertisers and purchased an unlimited advertising package with them. So our corporate office encouraged (insisted on is a better description) fake job ads to drive a pipeline of candidate resumes to keep our inventory of candidates strong, maximizing their use of an unlimited package.

I can understand how candidates can be upset by this practice.

On a positive note, we found many of our best candidates by this method, which Jeff refers to as “Future Hiring”. On the flip side, many of the candidates who replied to fake ads weren’t good matches for actual company requirements – if they optimized their resume it was to a generic ad, not to the real one.

Direct hiring companies run fake ads also, but for some additional reasons than just using pre-purchased advertising. Direct companies, sometimes using recruiters as middlemen, often run fake ads to test the market determining what type of skills are available and at what cost. Sometimes this is done before a headcount addition is even approved, so the manager can get a good idea of market value for skill sets. What better way to budget costs for the right candidate for a position – than going through the motions of hiring a good candidate? A good recruiter will often sniff fake job orders out by asking the right questions … a rookie often doesn’t.

Here’s some tips to spotting fake ads:

  • If the ad sounds general and doesn’t list the hiring company, it might be from a recruiter or it might be “fake”
  • If the ad lists very broad and general requirements, it’s probably a “fake”
  • If you see the same ad repeated week after week, it’s probably a “fake”
  • If the ad lists hiring manager contact information (not HR, and not recruiter) it’s probably real
  • The more detailed the requirements are, the more likely the ad is real
  • Here are a few tips about responding to fake ads:

    1. If you respond, here’s when to use your Fishing Resume (
    2. Don’t include a cover letter (
    3. If it is a stretch for you, don’t reply unless your strategy is mass marketing to “see what sticks” (
    4. If the company or recruiter posts a similar job with more detail (a “real” job), send your resume again, but this time use Resume Search Optimization ( to tailor your resume.

    Jeff’s article is an eye-opening read at

    It’s never a good idea to upset your customers. So why would a job board allow a so-called ‘fake’ job posting – a job listing that, in fact, does not currently exist?

    1. Maybe the job board didn’t know it was fake. After all, dozens or even hundreds of jobs are posted at many sites each week – by employers, not the job board.
    2. The ‘paying’ customer posted that ‘fake’ listing. Money speaks.
    3. ‘Fake’ postings are almost impossible to screen.

    For the sake of argument, let’s say that all of the above reasons have validity. Nevertheless, the fact remains that when a job seeker applies for a ‘fake’ listing, he or she will ultimately be disappointed or even angry when they discover that the ‘job’ was never there. Perhaps they’ll think twice about applying for another job – or simply avoid visiting the job board altogether.

    At this point, you’re looking at less site traffic, less job seeker activity, and (probably) some bad word of mouth.

    On the other hand, many employers and recruiters will push back if told they cannot post ‘fake’ listings. Why? Because they use these listings to gather resumes for future needs. Let’s say you’re an employer and you’ve bought 50 job postings, but you’ve only used 40 and the rest will expire in 60 days. Why not run some fake listings to stockpile resumes for future hiring – especially if you know you’ll have the future need?

    The problem boils down to ‘truth in advertising’. These ‘fake’ listings are presented as  if they are real, actual, ready-to-fill jobs – which they aren’t. When a job seeker spends 15 or 20 minutes applying for one and then finds out it isn’t ‘real’, they are inevitably disappointed (or perhaps something stronger).

    Instead of gnashing our teeth about this, why not create a new type of posting? Let’s call it the ‘future hiring’ posting. Create a template that’s optimized for this type of position: broad, keyword-based, aspirational. Promote these listings separately from the standard listings. Tell the job seekers exactly what they’re getting.

    The upside? More ‘truth in advertising’, resulting (I hope) in happier job seekers and employers. More reasons for job seekers to visit and employers to use your site. Idealistic? Maybe. But in my experience, doing nothing always seems to end up biting you back.

    Tell me your thoughts!


    Readers – How do you respond to “fake” job ads?

    Recruiters and employers – Anyone out there brave enough to share the truth with candidates about “fake” ads?


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Career Advice – How To Recognize Fake Job Ads


  1. I responded to a Robert Half ad in RI. It was non-existent and I boiled at the thought.

    I went to the manager and filed a complaint (through an email) but they probably patted the recruiter on the back.

    For me though, Robert Half is a fake!!!

  2. Any company that posts an ad for a job that is not currently open, or for a job that doesn’t even exist, is guilty of fraud and is not a company worth working for anyway. If they were dishonest with you once, what other dishonest things might they do to you next?

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