Is it Okay to Post a Fake Job Ad?

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Crossed fingers behind backWe’ve all been duped at some point in our lives, right? That “free” magazine subscription that conveniently charges your debit card three months after you’ve subscribed; those “return and get your money back, no questions asked” deals that actually do ask questions; and, my personal favorite, those $25 off your next purchase coupons where you can barely read the fine print that explains, “offer only valid on purchases of $500 or more.”

Unfortunately, life is full of scams, and the job market is no exception. Fake job ads can appear on almost every job board or search engine. Some are even on a company’s actual website. But why?

Let’s look at a few reasons why HR and recruiting staff opt for posting a fake job ad:

  • To gauge the current talent pool and see how in demand a job or position is. Perhaps your company is considering creating a marketing assistant position in the near future. Although the job doesn’t currently exist, you still create an ad for it. The number of applicants tells you how in demand that type of position is in the market and lets you know how much of an interest it may generate once available.
  • The number of applicants a fake ad receives helps companies determine what salary to set a position at. Recruiters are able to analyze resumes and see what skill set is most prominent and then base the salary accordingly. Also, the amount of applicants can also show a company whether or not a position can easily be replaced.
  • To keep a file of resumes on hand as back up for a similar position in case an employee suddenly leaves.
  • Collecting resumes helps HR professionals pitch the less desirable, lower interest jobs over the fake listing. Most job seekers will go for the higher paying, more attractive jobs. With a log of resumes, recruiters can contact those who applied for the false add and inform them about the true, yet less appealing position.
  • Some recruiting agencies are required to have a minimum of jobs posted each week when in contract with a job board.
  • To get resumes for “typical” jobs an employer or recruitment agency usually fills and to build up their resume database, even if the need isn’t immediately there.
  • Job seekers sometimes even post fake ads to screen their competition. For example, an adjunct English lecturer created a fake job post on Craigslist for a full-time administrative assistant position in a “busy midtown office” in New York. He desired to scope out his competition and see how it felt to be on the other end of the inbox. After just 24 hours the lecturer received 653 responses.

So, is it okay to post a fake job ad? Are gauging the talent pool, stacking up resumes and seeing the potential for future hires valid reasons to post ads for jobs that do not exist? Or is the act deceiving?

Having only been on the job seeker end, I can tell you firsthand just how time consuming it is to apply for jobs. Day after day spending 25-40 minutes per application, tweaking and re-tweaking your resume to ensure it’s just right and waiting patiently for your phone to ring or a new email to pop up in your inbox in hopes of employment. Fake job ads only add to a job hunter’s frustration.

So my answer is no; I do not think companies should ever post fake job ads. Recruiters and HR managers, what do you say?

By Shala Marks