Ask-A-Recruiter: Phantom Job Postings

istock_000005168521xsmall1.jpgContributed by Caroline Ceniza-Levine of SixFigureStart

Last week, my coaching firm hosted our monthly free coaching call, where we answered questions from jobseekers about the hiring process. Not one, but two questions were submitted about phantom job postings: Why do recruiters post listings for jobs that don’t exist? Why do companies consistently list job openings, bring in interviewees, extend offers, and go far in the hiring process, only to put positions on hold and sometimes close the positions?

Sometimes recruiters don’t know these jobs don’t exist. They may not have been told the job has been filled or has changed. So the posting stays up, jobseekers apply, and then the recruiter has to back-track and pull the posting. Recruiting doesn’t start with the recruiter (unless the department that is hiring is HR). Recruiting needs, process and timetable are determined by the hiring department, and sometimes the ultimate hiring department and HR do not communicate as well as they should.

Sometimes recruiters post jobs for general types of candidates that they need. For example, when I recruited for a major media company, they often hired for similar jobs – edit assistant, sales coordinator, etc. Jobs like these would open frequently but not on a regular basis, and when they did, we needed to fill them fast. So we would post the jobs on a regular basis to develop pipelines of candidates that we could draw from when a job would officially open.

Sometimes the job parameters change. When firms go so far as to screen resumes and interview people, they do so with a specific job in mind. But sometimes the firm decides to hire a finance person instead of operations. Sometimes the budget changes (or disappears) so the search has to change (or disappear). Sometimes the position gets filled internally. There are many reasons why a search may start but stop.

There are many reasons why a job that is posted is other than what it seems so don’t rely on job postings exclusively. Identify the decision makers for the areas that you want and target them directly. Network into your dream company so you can confirm what the open jobs are and keep abreast of changes. Have multiple leads to pursue so that you are not overly disappointed, frustrated, or reliant on any one job posting. This is an extraordinary market so you need extraordinary job search techniques.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart (, a career coaching firm comprised exclusively of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Prior to launching SixFigureStart, Caroline recruited for Accenture, Booz Allen, Citigroup, Time Inc, TV Guide and others. Email me at and ask how you can attend a free SixFigureStart group coaching teleclass.

0 Response

  1. Steph

    Another scenario is related to the Green card process. If an employer in the US wants to sponsor an employee for a Green card, they have to prove that, within a reasonable period of time, there is not a US citizen who is willing/able to do that work. The are required to publicly post the position, collect and review resumes and interview candidates that cannot be screened out from an initial screen of their resume and experience. Of course the candidate isn’t told the reason the job is being posted. Typically a reason will be found to screen out the new applicants, since the intent is to continue the employment of the Green card applicant.

    Obviously this isn’t a comfortable process for any recruiter (at least any with scruples) however it’s a requirement of the Federal Government and not something we recruiters can change.