It’s never a good idea to upset your customers. So why would a job board allow a so-called ‘fake’ job posting – a job listing that, in fact, does not currently exist?
  1. Maybe the job board didn’t know it was fake. After all, dozens or even hundreds of jobs are posted at many sites each week – by employers, not the job board.
  2. The ‘paying’ customer posted that ‘fake’ listing. Money speaks.
  3. ‘Fake’ postings are almost impossible to screen.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that all of the above reasons have validity. Nevertheless, the fact remains that when a job seeker applies for a ‘fake’ listing, he or she will ultimately be disappointed or even angry when they discover that the ‘job’ was never there. Perhaps they’ll think twice about applying for another job – or simply avoid visiting the job board altogether.

At this point, you’re looking at less site traffic, less job seeker activity, and (probably) some bad word of mouth.

On the other hand, many employers and recruiters will push back if told they cannot post ‘fake’ listings. Why? Because they use these listings to gather resumes for future needs. Let’s say you’re an employer and you’ve bought 50 job postings, but you’ve only used 40 and the rest will expire in 60 days. Why not run some fake listings to stockpile resumes for future hiring – especially if you know you’ll have the future need?

The problem boils down to ‘truth in advertising’. These ‘fake’ listings are presented as  if they are real, actual, ready-to-fill jobs – which they aren’t. When a job seeker spends 15 or 20 minutes applying for one and then finds out it isn’t ‘real’, they are inevitably disappointed (or perhaps something stronger).

Instead of gnashing our teeth about this, why not create a new type of posting? Let’s call it the ‘future hiring’ posting. Create a template that’s optimized for this type of position: broad, keyword-based, aspirational. Promote these listings separately from the standard listings. Tell the job seekers exactly what they’re getting.

The upside? More ‘truth in advertising’, resulting (I hope) in happier job seekers and employers. More reasons for job seekers to visit and employers to use your site. Idealistic? Maybe. But in my experience, doing nothing always seems to end up biting you back.

Tell me your thoughts!