What do I mean by “Phantom job posting”? It is a job posting that is advertised but no real job exists that the company is hiring. There are several reasons a company would post a job that doesn’t exist.

  1. An internal candidate or referral candidate has been identified and the company wants to “test the waters” to see if a better candidate exists, or they need to comply with an HR policy that requires jobs to be posted.

  2. There is no job open today, but the company wants to fill their pipeline. For example, a company knows that during a normal year they will fill 3-4 Financial Analyst positions. Even though there is no current position open they may advertise to have a pool of applicants when they are needed.

  3. The job was filled but the posting was not removed from the website. I have heard of jobs still posted 4-5 months after being filled.

Think of that last statement. A job still being posted 4 months after it is filled. How many hours were wasted by job seekers crafting the perfect resume to address the job requirements, how much time wasted on creating a great cover letter not to mention the time spent completing long online application forms. And don’t forget the dreams dashed by never getting a response.

There has to be a better way!

First, spend no more than 30 minutes a day searching job postings. When you see a great fit, use this five-step approach to land the job.

For example, you see that Acme Explosives is wanting to hire a Three Fingered Explosive Tech. You feel your experience as an Explosive Tech at Big Boom Bombs will qualify you for this position.

  1. Identify the position title of the person you would most likely report to at Acme if you were to be hired.

  2. Think of who you know at Acme. Were there ex-employees of Big Boom that have gone to new jobs at Acme? Do any of the vendors you worked with at Big Boom also sell to Acme? How about customers, if they bought Big Boom products they may have also purchased from Acme. Who do you know socially that works at Acme, i.e., church, PTA, neighborhood, soccer, and so on?

  3. If no one comes to mind readily, go to linked in. Search your first-degree connections, if you don’t have any immediate connections at Acme look at your second-degree connections. Who is the common connection between you? Be mindful at this point you are only looking for a connection, not the hiring manager (that is later).

  4. Using your shared connection, contact the person at Acme Explosives. Explain that you are doing research on Acme and would like to know who the head of the Tech group is. This conversation may take some finesse and more than one contact, but you will eventually find who you are looking for.

  5. Now that you have the name it is time to show your talent. Make a call, explain that you are interested in the Three Fingered Explosive Tech position and would like to schedule a short informal meeting to talk about how they see this role developing. Further explain that you realize there are always intangibles in a job that don’t appear in a job posting and a short, 15-20 minute informal conversation would let you both know if you would be a viable candidate. Your challenge is to show the hiring manager that this short conversation can save the company the expense of processing and storing an application, reviewing the application and responding to the application.

This is not an easy process, at every step you will be advised to apply online. As you have found through personal experience, the online application is one of the least effective methods of job search, you need to get past the application to the hiring manager.

If you have an internal champion at Acme Explosives gaining this meeting will be much easier. Your connection can pave the way giving you credibility.

Use the job postings to gain intelligence on companies that are hiring, but rely on those postings as your primary job search method.


Rick Christensen

Rick Christensen: Director, Career Transition Practice Rick has been a career consultant for over 25 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.

Rick’s passion is coaching individuals through career transitions, developing career management strategies and in identifying and sharpening competencies to open doors to new opportunities. His efforts have assisted thousands of individuals achieve their full potential.

Contact Rick at: Rick@CareerDevelopmentPartners.com