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!

Views: 3850

Comment by Ambrish Kochikar on January 6, 2010 at 12:49pm
Good post! I like the idea of advertising the job opening as a future hire. I was on the phone with a sales rep from a popular tech job board last week and I could not get her to name a single step that they had taken in the last 1 year to better screen for incomplete or fake resumes (I was interested in buying a database search subscription).

Since they don't charge the job seekers for posting their resumes, but DO charge the advertisers/employers for postings, I seems to me that they'd be better off focusing on providing quality to the paying client, i.e, the advertiser/employer?

One other reason why fake ads keep appearing is that job boards sell blocks of postings that never expire, instead of making employers pay for each new posting. It would then make sense to give the employer the choice to run the ad for different periods.

As for fake resumes, I would not mind paying to post my resume, if I were a serious job seeker. Would you?
Comment by Ron Rafelli on January 6, 2010 at 1:30pm
Excellent point, Gerry. I have personally had to pass on candidates in the past for the very reason you mentioned (presented without their permission for a job we weren't going to consider agency candidates for). I felt horrible. The only answer is to never, ever work with those agencies again, which I don't. If enough employers would blacklist agencies who employ this practice, it would ultimately stop, or at least slow dramitically.
Comment by Jessica Miller-Merrell on January 6, 2010 at 1:38pm
There are a lot of professional search companies that use fake job postings as a way to generate clients. When I relocated to Oklahoma City four years ago, I applied to one of those fake postings and was excited to be contacted for an interview only to feel like extremely angry once I realized what their story was. These types of practices giving the recruiting industry a bad name.

Good post!
Comment by Doug Geinzer on January 6, 2010 at 3:02pm
Great post Jeff! Thanks for starting a conversation we should be having. At Recruiting Nevada, we do our best to police fake job postings by putting every post through an editorial process. It is not 100% perfect, but it is as close as we can get. If self postings do not meet our criteria, we simply refund the advertiser's money.
Comment by Bobby Gipson on January 6, 2010 at 3:13pm
Excellent posting. I've felt like this has been going on but no way to confirm. It is an ongoing problem and unfortuneately there is no solid way to find out ahead of time. But only after the damage has been done. A company that post's their job for a week then pulls up stakes due to some cockamani excuse. They are only looking for resumes to fill their database so that they won't pay a 3rd party recruiter. If you go to the LinkedIn Group, US Jobs, Careers, and Networks. You'll see a posting about HR. Alot of good and various comments has been kept inside of some individuals and have finally come out in the open.
I'm dealing right now with a posting in the Recruit Alliance job board that I feel is a fake posting. 20 resumes have been submitted to this posting and all have been rejected. They are only accepting 20 at a time. This is the 2nd go around. They have already accepted 20 and rejected all, now moving on to the next 20 resumes for submittal.I submitted a candidate among the 20 submittals and it was rejected for the reason of having "more qualified candidates" than the one I submitted. How can they have any to base this on if not one has been accepted, or under review unless they are also sourcing in another board? When is sent them a message on this I have received no reply.
There is alot of this going on and it's sad to say that the company's who have their salaried HR people in place, are feasting off of the hard working 3rd party recruiter's that are feeding them the cream of the crop.
Comment by Pip Macdonald on January 6, 2010 at 6:52pm
RE: (Ron Rafelli ) "I like the idea of "future hiring" positing, but do not know how many people would really apply to those. It would be interesting to find out."

I find many people are interested in the type of role and the company - and often this is how I attract passive job seekers - it's just a different type of job seeker that requires relationship management and not as much of a reactive approach which active job seekers have.

This type of advert still has its uses though I find.
Comment by Katherine E. Simmons on January 6, 2010 at 8:03pm
Great discussion. As an "old timer" in this arena (NETSHARE has been connecting candidates with jobs since 1991), I continue to be frustrated by the "fake jobs" issue. As Gerry notes, there have always been fishing expeditions. Yes, even back in the days of print ads, people would trawl for resumes to shop around. Some retail outplacement firms and career services placed ads in order to build their mailing lists. When the focus shifted to online posting, it went viral. The whole mess was exacerbated with the onset of “scraping” or in polite terms aggregating. I’ve had conversations with corporate recruiters who are ready to take legal action over the fact that their archived jobs were picked up by spiders and posted as new on high profile sites. An innocent mistake – perhaps. But it is happening more often now that the job market has contracted. Now add social media to the mix and you have the stuff of urban legends – see my post As Steve points out, most of the fee based, niche sites offer a better resource and in many cases, due diligence. At NETSHARE, we do not accept payment from the job poster. This allows us to be choosy about what we will and won’t post. First time listers get a call from myself or our COO as part of the due diligence process. While we do have abbreviated versions of some of the jobs on the public part of our site, full jobs are protected. In addition to our “regular” postings, we host forums/SIG for members. Members sometimes share jobs in the forums and we will occasionally add jobs that are “not quite ready for prime time”, i.e. equity or commission only positions that are potentially interesting to our members. I would be comfortable posting a “future hire” position in a forum as long as it was clearly identified as such.
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on January 7, 2010 at 10:21am
This post obviously touched a nerve. I'm impressed by the depth and range of comments - thanks for reading and taking the time to post your thoughts.
Comment by Paul Bailey on January 7, 2010 at 10:55am
Fake jobs from 3rd party recruiters are potentially higher now than ever since companies are not hiring. The recruiters are gathering resumes so when (and if) companies start hiring that they will have a bunch of resumes to present to the company.

I also think that this really sucks for the unemployed job seeker that finds a job, spends the time to fill out the application and have their hopes of getting a paycheck smashed when the job is not real.

Ms Simon - I really dislike job boards that have the job seeker go through 15 steps of resume service this and continue education that. Just let the job seeker apply for the job, that's why they are there.


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