Competition in the careers industry is fierce on all sides – from the job seeker’s perspective and from the hiring manager’s standpoint. So what’s a company to do when they hear that their competitor is hiring for positions they may need to fill in the near future? Some may create a job opening that doesn’t quite yet exist – to snag talented job seekers away from their competition.

You might think that this tactic is illegal – it is not – and practiced by more companies than you want to know. The impact to the job seeker is frustration. Since they don’t know if a position they are applying for is real or fake, they are in a constant state of flux while going through the hiring process with one or more organizations.

Contingency recruiters can sometimes be the biggest offenders of posting openings for non-existent jobs. Their rational is they want a talent pool to draw from to fill the next job order quickly. As you may know, contingency recruiters are paid when their candidate is hired (different from retained recruiters), so having candidates ready to go when a need arises may help them be the early bird that gets the worm.

On the same note, hiring managers like to keep track of talented job seekers so when a job opens or a hiring freeze is lifted, they have a ready collection of candidates to draw from. In the meantime, the job seeker is waiting for a long time to hear from the hiring manager about a job that doesn’t exist.


So how do you know if a job posting is real? It’s almost impossible to determine. Not the answer you wanted to hear? Well, I know the job seekers who are successful in receiving job offers are those who are active in their job search and network. For example, if you want a position in the pharmaceutical field, following new drug launches, company expansions, that type of thing will give you clues that the company may have new positions to fill to accommodate the growth they are experiencing. Of if you know people who work in your target industry and are being transferred to another division or they know someone who is, you may learn of job openings to fill these gaps before they are formally advertised.

Be diligent in following your target companies, industry milestones, and people you know to stay well informed.

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