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Is it legal to advertise for a job that’s already been filled?

In a previous post, we discussed the growing trend of job interview fraud—the dishonest practice of holding online interviews for jobs that don’t exist. In today’s post, we examine the phenomenon of fake job postings.

Does this sound familiar? You see a job posted online. You submit your application electronically. You wait for three or four weeks until the posting is removed—and you never get called for an interview.

If your qualifications and experience seemed like a perfect match for the job in question, you may be baffled—and even demoralized—over not making the cut. However, it could be that the job was never even available in the first place—because it was promised to someone in the company before the listing was published.

Why would employers do this?

This hiring tactic may seem unfair, but employers actually have a lot of leeway when it comes to how they hire. In fact, they’re not even required to advertise a job opening at all. However, due to pressures in a company’s human resources department, they’ll often advertise for positions promised to an internal candidate—in the name of appearing transparent. While this strategy may be deceitful, it’s completely legal.

Employers prefer internal candidates—or referrals—because they have inside knowledge of whether the candidate will fit well with the company culture. This is something that is difficult to assess from a resume or 20-minute interview.

How job applicants can combat this

It can be challenging to discern whether an online job posting is real or fake. However, there are certain steps you can take to make yourself more appealing to employers who feel safer hiring candidates they already know:

  • Avoid job networking events for unemployed people. You don’t need to meet more unemployed people. Instead seek, out events you know hiring managers will attend—such as company happy hours or panel discussions in your job sector.
  • Get to know other hiring managers in your company. Find a department you’re interested in, and offer to take the hiring manager out to coffee. If a job opening later emerges, you’ll already be on their radar.
  • Don’t stop networking. Even if you’re perfectly happy at your current position, it always pays to keep making new connections. You never know where it will lead—or what will happen to your current job.

The employment landscape is constantly changing. Adapting to these changes is critical in making your job search successful.

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