Fake Job Ads Are Evil

It was in February. I was near the end of an onsite interview for a job with a large technology company and I asked the interviewer when he needed someone to start. He told me he did not have a job open right now but will probably need someone in April or May. Huh? I had gotten the interview through a staffing agency so I called the account manager at the agency immediately after the interview to let him know what I had been told. The time frame for his client to hire was news to him and he was no more happy about it than I was.

Fast forward five months, and I was recruiting for a position that required an unusual combination of skills and was located in Kansas (I was not working at the company mentioned above). It was a tough search and I spent many hours on LinkedIn and other sites. I had located, screened, and submitted three qualified candidates. Nothing happened. No response at all for over a month from the hiring manager after multiple attempts to get feedback on the resumes. Finally, my manager intervened and ended up cancelling the job. She found out the position was not a real opening; the hiring manager was just “checking the market.” Apparently this was a common practice of his.

I just have one question: WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE????

I suspect both of the hiring managers were pipelining candidates for future openings and saw nothing wrong with posting fake job ads. I disagree! There are better ways to build a pipeline that don’t involve wasting a candidate’s time and getting their hopes up about a job that doesn’t even exist. Also, a company should have better ways to spend money than posting fictitious jobs on various job sites and on their company website career page.

Most applicant tracking systems have a way to create lists. Job boards and LinkedIn Recruiter allow you to save searches and set up a search agent that will email you results on a daily or weekly basis depending on the choices available for that particular site. You can import the relevant resumes into your ATS and attach them to a list. LinkedIn Recruiter lets you set up projects, and you can add profiles to those project folders. Automation is not perfect (my LinkedIn job alert consistently sends me truck driver jobs) but can save a lot of time and effort and greatly help in building up a pipeline.

When a real job opens up and is posted, as you review new applicants, simply attach them to a list. People frequently apply to jobs they are not qualified for. Putting those people on one of your lists will make it easier to find them later for a job that better fits their skills. Going immediately to a list when you get a new opening will give you a good head start on finding candidates for the position.

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You can always fine-tune a search by searching only the resumes on a list for specific key words or locations or whatever else you need.

When you have the time to make an introductory contact to people on your pipeline list who you have not previously contacted, it is only fair to let them know you don’t currently have an opening for them. A lot of people will still be willing to talk to you, though, and at least you can find out if you have current phone numbers and email addresses. While pipelining is not going to be your main priority most of the time, it is possible to pipeline without taking up too much of your time.

One lesson I learned from those two hiring managers is not to assume the recruiter assigned to a job opening knows it is fake. But the most important lesson I learned is to always ask a hiring manager during an intake meeting when they want someone to start. When I come across a situation where a hiring manager is pipelining instead of hiring, I can let them know I have viable alternatives to posting a fake job.

No company will ever enhance their reputation with prospective employees by being known as a company that posts fake job ads. How can you not wonder if anything else that company tells you is true?

Charlene Long is a corporate recruiter with RPO and agency experience who specializes in IT and engineering positions. She lives in Dallas, Texas, and has over 20 years of technical recruiting experience. Previously she was an analytical chemist for environmental labs in Florida and Texas and then for Texas Instruments in Dallas for four years.

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