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 Pip Macdonald on January 6, 2010 at 6:06am
When I recruit for roles it's important I advertise with honesty and mention that the advert is a sourcing ad or I'm looking to place people in the future - advertising the roles starting in coming months. This way although the job does not exist at the present at least I'm managing everyone's expectations. This keeps my reputation in tact, creates less workload and stress for me and the candidate and ensures the candidate experience is an open and honest one where noone is confused over timelines, the recruitment process and the brand I represent is not tarnished. Advertising under false pretense and you just appear untrustworthy.
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on January 6, 2010 at 8:13am
I wish your practices were universal, Pip! That's the way it should be.
Comment by Julie Hankins on January 6, 2010 at 11:33am
I have seen some "future hiring" posts - and have seen many posts of roles that I know for a fact are not available. Both are, IMHO, unethical and show very poor decision making. I applaud you Jeff!
Comment by Ron Rafelli on January 6, 2010 at 11:36am
I completely agree that posting openings that do not currently exist is wrong and should never be done. 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. Another solution to this problem would be for job boards to stop putting expiration dates on postings. I think it is absurd that a company pays good money for a posting that just disappears, unused, after a period of time. If it is bought and paid for, it should be valid until used, no matter how long it takes. It reminds me of some unscrupulous companies that sell gift cards with expiration dates. Fortunately, that practice has all but ceased since people got smart and stopped buying them. Maybe it should end in the job posting world, too.
Comment by Steve Dill on January 6, 2010 at 11:36am
As the Founder/President of GorillaMed, a popular medical device sales job board, I frequently wrestle with ways to limit (or even eliminate) fake job listings on my board. Our goal is to provide only real active listings on GorillaMed. Yet, as a former recruiter, I totally understand the practice of placing strategic "futures" postings to enrich the recruiter's candidate database.

As you wrote, it is an impossible task for the board owner to police each listing. Our "Terms-of-Service" policy states clearly that we will remove any medical sales listing if we find that it is not an actual job. Our challenge is to identify bogus listings, however.

I think that candidates should understand that, when applying to jobs found on a job board, a certain percentage of these jobs will not be real listings. It just goes with the business. However, I feel very confident in believing that the vast majority of jobs in medical sales posted on GorillaMed are actual active listings.
Comment by JC Simon on January 6, 2010 at 12:06pm
As a job seeker, I have encountered some questionable practices online. Recently, I applied for a position on, which directed me to another website so that I could apply for a "confidential" position. I posted all of my information, skipping through the repeated ads for continuing my education. One of the questions stated, "we have a an excellent tuition reimbursement program, are you interested in continuing your education'. I marked yes, and then received a message stating that this confidential employer wanted me to visit their website to continue the application. I was directed to a new site, asking detailed questions about what I was looking for in my future education. I realized at this point that I had been duped. I of coure realize that Indeed is simply the search engine, but now I will be hesitant to apply for jobs I pull from there. The fake job was posted by I should have clued in when one of the initial questions was how long have you been in the work force. I paused, knowing that this was an inappropriate question, but answered it anyway. And I should know better!
Comment by Robin Eads on January 6, 2010 at 12:15pm
It's very hard to screen out "fake" jobs if the poster takes enough time/thought to make it look legitimate. We get people all the time trying to post fake jobs to send traffic to their site, other job boards cross posting their customers jobs onto our site, scam jobs, etc. We weed out as much as we can - all new posters are manually screened before they are given the green light to post. However, there are still some that slip through the cracks. Truth is, I doubt any job board can screen them ALL out. I can tell you this - JobShouts won't knowingly accept "fake" jobs even from customers who want to pay to have them listed. It should be a legitimate job - not just lining our pockets. Our whole mission is to be different from the others and offer quality jobs & social media connection opportunities. This increases the chance of success for both employer AND job seeker.
Comment by Gerry Crispin on January 6, 2010 at 12:28pm
The gorilla in the room is 3rd party placement tactics not employer tactics.

Most employers use the tactic described by Jeff. A few ATSs even configured their back ends to include "future" positions. Firms that don't use the tactic are just not thinking ahead.

The reality is that there are thousands of mom and pop staffing services that bait their hooks (and a few who aren't mom an pop) way too often with plastic in hopes of catching a few A players they can sell.

I understand it. I've even been there. but, as a job seeker it is a nightmare. Every highly skilled job seeker has at least 1 legitimate story of being reeled in only to find that the "advertised dream job" was an illusion and the firm had no knowledge or access but would now "shop" the naive job seeker. Worse, the firm was already shopping them...everywhere. Then, to make matters worse, the job seeker learns (through their network) that a firm with a dream job will NOT be considering them for an open position because they were "listed" by a third party and the firm is committed to hiring directly. (Yes, the problem is also the way in which companies screw up their own efforts to find the best and brightest).

The entire Industry is tarred by this brush. The problem is we have no useful means to enforce or even "out" the offenders and few of them are interested enough in our business as a profession and industry to read this or any other conversation on the topic.

Sorry for the rant. Just talked to a recruiter who didn't get considered because of this and they should have known better. Great post Jeff
I encourage the very best candidates to qualify their relationship with 3rd party players in writing to specific openings in specific firms for a specific period of time. Job boards will only solve the problem by offering job seekers a BBB guarantee to take action and black list publicly those who misrepresent
Comment by Steve Dill on January 6, 2010 at 12:30pm
I appreciate the comments from Ms. Simon about the practice of some "aggregate" job boards being fronts for business, or sending individuals on a rat race to other sites. This is exactly why job-seekers should forget these aggregate sites, and stick to the "fee-based" niche job boards which feature exclusive listings, and never allow other sites to access their jobs.

Among the medical sales job boards, the two best niche sites who follow this credo are, and
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on January 6, 2010 at 12:45pm
Thanks, Gerry - great comment. You're right - no policing mechanism = ongoing problem. I wish I had the answer to this one!


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