Job Hunting Tips

The Curse of the Phantom Job Ad

Lisa Johnson Posted by Lisa
min read
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This article in The Age says that job hunters are complaining about 'fake' job advertisements that recruiters use to top up their databases.  To be fair, it's a pretty balanced article, but I want to further expand on a couple of points.

Advertising fake jobs is illegal.

And a good recruitment business doesn't do it.  Advertising is expensive.  Why waste money on advertising a role that doesn't actually exist?  This does not mean we do not do 'general' ads to attract candidates who are likely to have skills that are in high demand.  And, yes, this is all about adding candidates to the database.  How is this a bad thing, when we clearly state the posting isn't for a specific job? Think about this:  temporary or contract work is all about speed.  Who is available to start tomorrow?  Who can get there by 10am to cover reception?  Who do we have that can jump straight into a SAP implementation project and hit the ground running?  We don't have time to advertise a role when the hiring manager needs someone on reception in an hour.  We HAVE to use our database.


Given that temporary and contract work has been busier in a period where permanent vacancies have been fewer, the database is a moving, fluid thing.  If we find work for all our good people today, who will we have to put into new jobs next week?  Keeping the database alive with good, qualified, vetted candidates is critical to our business.  And I am not going to apologise for it.

Is the job still live?

In the article, Andrew Cuddihy experienced a situation where he applied for a legitimate position and was interviewed for the role, only to find out it was already filled.  Now, the recruiter should have made it clear before the interview that the advertised vacancy was unavailable, but it is common practice to interview people even after a role has been filled.  If the role is one that an agency is often asked to recruit for, it is much better for everyone involved if we have your details on file for when that role is vacant. Here is the most common recruitment process: Client gives agency a role to recruit. Agency considers candidates on database who have already been interviewed and vetted. If nobody is suitable or more candidates are required for a shortlist, then advertise the role. Your best chance of being submitted to a client is to be on the database and for you to have regular contact with your recruiter so they know when you are looking, what your requirements are, and if anything in your situation has changed.  Don’t expect this to be a one way communication street – call, text, email your consultant on a regular basis.  Take responsibility for ensuring that recruiters know who you are and what you are looking for.

Where is the job?

In the article, Kim Owen-Jones suggests, 'If the recruitment agency is not prepared to disclose enough details about the employer to give confidence that it is an authentic role, don't submit your details.' 

Let me very clear here, people:  if you have not been interviewed by a people2people consultant, you will NOT be told the name of the employer until you are.  We would never disclose pertinent business details without the protection of having met you. This is to protect us, to protect our client, and to protect you.  It's not because we are dodgy. We protect ourselves by ensuring only suitably vetted and qualified candidates are given important information about our clients.  We protect the client by ensuring that they are not inundated by unqualified candidates, and we protect you, because looking for a new job is difficult and your privacy is as important as anything else.

So you had an interview with the consultant but didn’t get submitted to the client…

Okay, this is more about the comments on the original article.  Yes, there are going to be times when you are interviewed by an agency but your details are not submitted to the client.  This is because you are simply not right for every role, even if you have the technical skills.  Filling a vacancy is about a lot more than your ability to do the job. It's about cultural fit with the organisation, it's about your long term goals and needs and the ability of the client to meet these, and it's about how you compare to other people in the market. I have said it before: you are not right for every job you apply for.

A reminder

Recruiters are not parasites.  So often we are described as a 'necessary evil', as if people are forced into dealing with us.  We are there because we provide a valuable service to our clients.  We are gatekeepers, reality checkers and advisors.  Our job is to give the client what they need, and, in doing so, we allow candidates the opportunity to gain the career growth and skill expansion they have been looking for.  And yes, this does mean that we inevitably delight a small number of people and potentially disappoint a lot more.  But that is the nature of the beast. When it comes down to it, there can be only one.