Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Ghost jobs are advertised openings that either don’t really exist or never seem to get filled. There are a few examples of why organizations might create these job openings.
- The company is considering an organizational change. Before they finalize the new structure, they run a “ghost job” to see if anyone applies. That helps the organization decide if they can fill this new role.
- An organization believes one of their employees is planning to leave. They cannot afford to be without this role, so they run a “ghost job” so they have some applicants just in case.
- A company has a position that is high turnover and open on a regular basis. So, the company regularly runs advertising for the job, whether they have an open requisition.
There was an article recently in HR Brew about ghost jobs titled “Ghost jobs are the result of outdated recruiting processes, and you don’t need to rely on them to beef up your candidate pool.” While the article does contain several bad ghost puns (sorry!), it does have some good information about a ghost strategy and the advantages and disadvantages of using it.
As we discussed above, the big advantage to ghost jobs is the ability to potentially build a talent pool or pipeline. However, I must say that with today’s technologies and recruitment marketing strategies, it could be far more effective to build a talent pool or pipeline using other means than ghost jobs. Organizations can build an employment brand on social media, drive interested individuals to their career site, and encourage them to opt-in to receive job updates.
This approach would allow the organization to promote them as an employer and all the jobs they have available – not just the one job they are promoting via the ghost job strategy.
And then on the flip side, organizations have to think about how applicants might react if they figure out that they’ve applied to a ghost job. Will this impact the trust they have for the company? This has the potential to be a huge downside to ghost jobs. Individuals who believe they applied to a non-existent job might decide not to apply in the future when the organization has a real opening.
Organizations need to examine the rewards and risks to determine whether a ghost job strategy really works for them. If you’re not doing some sort of sourcing analysis, this would be time to consider one. Ghost strategy aside, organizations want to know that the budget they’re spending on sourcing is bringing qualified candidates. So, it only makes sense to examine the results from ghost job sourcing. Is the quality and quantity there? Does it help reduce time to fill and cost per hire?
I understand why companies might want to consider ghost jobs. The question becomes are they effective? And they might have been at one point in time. Then, the question is are they still effective today? And do the rewards outweigh the potential downsides? That I’m not so sure about.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the spooky streets of New Orleans, LA31