Are job openings real?

Many job seekers wonder if the jobs they apply for are real openings. Every day, we see listed openings online for positions that perfectly match our background and skills, only never to hear any response from the employer.

What I’ve discovered is that many employers post jobs that they have no intention of filling.  Why?  They want to see what’s out there; what kind of talent pool they can call upon when the economy rebounds and they are prepared to hire again. 

Of course many job seekers have interviewed for jobs that subsequently closed because of budget cutbacks.  I’ve received a few letters from employers I’ve interviewed with notifying me that the position I applied for has been closed and will not be filled. For example: “At this time, we are working on some organizational changes and we are closing the search for a director. Thank you for your continued interest in our organization. Should our revised search meet your qualifications and interests, we would welcome your application.”

Yet many positions are closed before you even apply.  Some companies state in their employment policies ‘that completion of this application does not mean a job opening exists.’  I’ve applied for jobs that I later discovered were never filled.  For example, last summer I applied for a position at an ad agency with an outstanding referral from a high-ranking employee in that company.  Although the company was looking for a “self-starter” to coordinate media plans, I had the experience and training needed to do the job.  I never heard back from the employer, and my colleague there moved on to another agency in another city.

Now, one year later, I read in the local Business Journal that the company has downsized and only the two principal partners remained, “with limited administrative help.”  I go online to the agency’s website and find a listing of several “employees,” who are in reality probably working temporarily part-time from home. The agency’s  principal partner said he hoped “the firm can carry on as more of what he calls a virtual agency, sometimes collaborating with former staffers to handle work.”

A friend of mine believes that the Great Recession has made us all into good liars.  Many small business owners are putting up a good front about their business; some even posting jobs they will never fill and listing non-existent full-time employees on their websites.  Their businesses may be crumbling, but they would never admit that reality to anyone.


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