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Ghost jobs are haunting job sites. Here's how to spot them

Finding a job already takes a lot of work. Now there's a new problem to worry about.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Woman looking at laptop
Ekaterina Goncharova/Getty Images

If you've been applying to jobs and find that the companies aren't getting back to you, you may have applied for ghost jobs.

The term "ghost job" refers to online job openings that stick around and are seemingly never filled. The reason why? The Wall Street Journal reported that sometimes the job never existed or a company never intended to hire anyone for the position.

In a survey by Clarify Capital of over 1,000 managers, 68% of managers had an active job posting remain active for more than 30 days. The survey also found that there are reasons why companies purposefully post ghost jobs.

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One reason is that the company is always looking for new employees to make it seem like the company is growing. Another reason may be to motivate current employees. Sometimes it may be unintentional.

Joe Mercurio, project manager at Clarify Capital, says that to avoid applying for a ghost job, you should be mindful of how long the job post has been open for applicants. If a position has been open for a suspiciously long time, it's probably a ghost job. 

Another reason employers post ghost job listings is to maintain a hiring pool for positions that experience high turnover. The Wall Street Journal reported that companies spend an exorbitant amount of money on LinkedIn and Indeed ads. To keep those costs low, they keep ghost job listings on the site to not run out of applicants.

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It's important not to conflate ghost jobs with job scams. Job scams on hiring sites like Indeed and LinkedIn operate and communicate with applicants entirely differently than ghost job openings.

In job scams, an individual will typically ask you for an upfront payment before you start the job, usually for the equipment needed for the job, like a laptop. If you're trying to discern between a scam and a ghost job, the first step is verifying the individual works for the company they're advertising for.

For the best results in your job hunt, apply for jobs directly on the company's website. Applying there minimizes the risk of falling into ghost job and job scam traps. 

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