Why do companies post ‘ghost jobs’?

Candidates around the world are annoyed with employers projecting positions as vacant even after they have been filled

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After a two-year career break post her pregnancy, Payal was once again looking to kick-start her career as a content writer. However, even after three months of active job hunting and filling out of hundreds of job applications, she received not a single positive response. Why? Because all the while, she had been applying for ghost jobs of course.

Quite common in the corporate world, ghost jobs are positions that employers keep alive on their careers page, and for which they continue to accept applications even after the position has already been filled. In other words, companies post jobs for which they are actually not hiring.

Most of us have encountered such ghost jobs or positions that never seem to get filled. What is worse is that they continue to accept applications for months but do not revert to the applicants with a positive response.

“I may post ghost jobs for critical roles which the company cannot afford to leave vacant for a long time”

Viekas K Khokha, head – HR, Dhanuka Agritech

That ghost jobs are common in India is something that all HR leaders agree and acknowledge.

Some HR leaders believe that ghost jobs are often a result of human error. However, Viekas K Khokha, head – HR, Dhanuka Agritech, does not agree. He is of the belief that ghost jobs cannot result from human error but are a result of the conscious efforts of companies.

Why do companies post ghost jobs?

Khokha explains just like companies try to create a database of their internal talent marketplace, they use ghost jobs to create a database of external talent. While people keep applying for the posts which, unknown to them, have already been filled, the employers get a chance to gather resumes of people who are interested in the roles. “It helps create a list of active job seekers in the market,” enumerates Khokha, adding that it also allows gives the organisations a fair idea of the talent market for various roles, skills and positions.

How can ghost jobs be leveraged efficiently?

Today, companies deploy artificial intelligence or AI-based technologies to filter talent from the database at the time of hiring. “AI-based technologies can actually help us track the movement of talent from the time one applies for the job till the time the Company has a requirement to fill that role in the future,” Khokha mentions.

On the other hand, ghost jobs can also annoy job seekers if there is no revert from the company. “Some companies have a good practice of automated replies. They recognise the fact that they should respond to the candidate, even if it is to say ‘no’,” Khokha asserts.

While speaking to HRKatha, Pradipta Sahoo, senior HR leader, shares that in India he has seen employers going one step ahead to get market insights. Many companies post fake jobs and conduct fake interviews to get market insights. Sahoo cites an instance of a rival firm, which is launching a new product. The company could conduct fake interviews with an employee of the rival who may have some insights about the new product launch. The purpose of the interview would obviously be to get some vital information on the competitor’s new product.

Pradipta Sahoo joins Suryoday Small Finance Bank as CPO“In India companies beyond just posting fake jobs but also conducting fake interviews to get market insights from rival firms”

Pradipta Sahoo, advisor to the board, Bank Of India

“In India companies beyond just posting fake jobs but also conducting fake interviews to get market insights from rival firms,” tells Sahoo.

Is posting of ghost jobs a sustainable practice?

Manoj Kumar Sharma, CHRO, Aarti Industries, believes that posting of ghost jobs is not a sustainable practice. “Candidates today are smart and capable of seeing through such acts. They are also capable of assessing the culture of the company,” tells Sharma.

Sahoo cautions that posting of ghost jobs or conducting fake interviews to get market insights cannot be carried on for a long time.

“Candidates today are smart and capable of seeing through such acts. They are also capable of assessing the culture of the company”

Manoj Kumar Sharma, CHRO, Aarti Industries

As an HR leader, Khokha does not think he would post ghost jobs for every role. “I may post ghost jobs for critical roles which the company cannot afford to leave vacant for a long time,” shares Khokha.

Globally, ghost jobs have been on the rise, with 50 per cent of HR professionals admitting having resorted to them.

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