Anyone who has been single and in the dating scene for the past few years is well familiar with the term “ghosting.” Ghosting, according to Wikipedia, is a term which describes the practice of ending all communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or justification and ignoring any subsequent attempts to communicate.

Welcome to dating in 2023.

I think job seekers can also relate, only now, ghosting has also become mainstream as it relates to applying to online positions.

According to a March 2023 Wall Street Journal article, in a survey of more than 1000 hiring managers, 27% reported having job postings up for more than four months. Among those who said they advertised job postings that they weren’t actively trying to fill, close to half said they kept the ads up to give the impression the company was growing, according to Clarify Capital, a small-business-loan provider behind the study. One-third of the managers who said they advertised jobs they weren’t trying to fill said they kept the listings up to placate overworked employees.

Other reasons for keeping jobs up, the WSJ article said included stocking a pool of ready applicants if an employee quits, or just in case an “irresistible” candidate applied.

The WSJ article explains that for employers, constantly looking for talent can make sense, says Kelsey Libert, co-founder of Fractl, a digital marketing agency. She says her company keeps ads up for associate positions even when they aren’t hiring, because turnover for those jobs is often higher than other roles.

“Otherwise, you’re suddenly in a position where you need to spend a lot of money on LinkedIn ads to quickly drum up interest,” she says.

Based on my experience as a career coach and corporate recruiter, I estimate about 30% of all jobs you see online, that appear to be legit, are likely ghost postings.

In addition to the reasons already stated, some postings are left up by accident as the company may have already hired someone but forgot to take the posting off their web server or delete from the site they were using to advertise. Other reasons might include the company knowing who they were going to hire in advance, but bringing in other candidates to build a bench.

I specifically remember one occasion as a corporate recruiter where I was assigned an opening in Virginia Beach. We advertised the position, conducted phone screen interviews, and I had 6-8 candidates lined up for in-person interviews over the next couple days. A day before I was scheduled to leave, my supervisor approached me and said he wanted to add another candidate to the pool. I noticed the candidate had the same last name as our VP of Sales. I asked if there was any relation. My boss replied, “Yes, it’s his nephew.” Any guesses on who I hired for the position? Thankfully, the VP’s nephew was a good guy who did a solid job for the company, and I got a free 3-day trip to Virginia Beach.

But job seekers can also be Ghost Busters, use their own version of a proton pack, and fight back. Here are some ideas for minimizing the chances of applying to ghost postings and reducing the overall time of your job search:

1- Ensure your resume is targeted specifically for the type of job you’re pursuing and optimized for a resume scanner. Applying for internet positions is still ok, provided you’re not overly reliant on them and are maximizing your chances for success with each resume you send. A less is more approach will win the game every time. Focus on the ads that were posted in the past week or less and look for detailed job descriptions rather than the ones that look too basic for the job title advertised. It’s also important that your resume is optimized for a resume scanner as more than 80% of all companies now use this technology.

2- After applying to a position, especially one you consider a “blue chip” opportunity, send a LinkedIn InMail to a key decision maker at the company. Inform them of the position you applied to and why you would be solid fit. In your message, ask for a short 10-minute phone call as your call to action. Many of our clients have success with this method and have landed interviews and offers as a result.

3- Use your network. Ensure you’re getting the word out to the people who know you and are willing to help you in your search. Be specific as to what you’re targeting so they know how to help you. Always offer to help them and/or pay it forward. Networking is still the number one way of finding a new position.

4- Work with agency recruiters and headhunters. Generally speaking, positions you see on recruitment firm or agency sites have a far better likelihood of being legit. Recruiters and headhunters are extremely money-driven as many rely on straight commission only. So, if your resume is solid and you have your 30 Second Short Pitch down as to what you’re targeting, regularly check agency sites and use InMails to communicate with agency recruiters and solopreneur headhunters on LinkedIn.

Yes, being ghosted stinks. Both in dating and in the “professional dating” world known as the job search. The key is to use technology to your advantage but not to become overly-reliant on it. Assembling an effective marketing plan for your professional brand and using as much IRL (In Real Life) communication you can muster will be the keys to your success.

Do you have a ghost posting job search story you’d like us to know about? Or maybe you have some tips you’d like to pass along. We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section below.


Donald J. Strankowski is a two-time author, active public speaker, and a regular guest on FOX 31 Good Day Colorado. He is founder and president of Ascend Career and Life Strategies, a career management and professional development firm for businesses, professionals, and executives. Since 2001, Ascend has helped people land a better job, improve their level of performance, change careers, or start their own business. Serving customers across the US and internationally, Ascend offers best in class career advisement and professional services for any individual or company looking to gain a key competitive edge. Schedule a free consultation today.