Why are agencies still posting fake ads and is it ever OK?

Dead End photo

Someone tweeted this article about fake job postings this morning. It is an old article but makes a very good point – fake adverts are bad recruitment practice and just waste everyone’s time. There are some agencies who are notorious for doing this but we won’t of course name names. There’s no hope you will get that job and if they do happen to have one that might be right, you probably would have applied to that advert anyway. Let’s face it, recruitment agencies don’t always have a good reputation. We are sometimes seen as a necessary evil and things like this just reinforce that impression.



So why do consultants bother to do this? Well the idea is that you can generate more candidates simply by having more ads out there and that a large database should be achieved at any cost. Once you have that database, you can either push people for leads or let people sit there until you have spammed them with vacancies, hoping that one will be right. A nice big database makes recruiters feel secure, even if they have no hope of finding roles for 99% of the people on there. This isn’t smart recruiting, it’s “cowboy” recruiting and thankfully it seems to be largely dying out as a recruitment style.



In answer to my opening question, is it ever OK to post a fake job? No. Never. Not at all. There is legislation which bans agencies from doing so. Industry bodies such as APSCo and REC also have conduct policies preventing fake adverts. Just to clarify, I would say a “fake” advert is one that has never existed, is not available in or near that location or has been filled a long time ago.



It’s not just candidates who suffer as a result of fake adverts, companies and existing employees do too. Just imagine, you’ve been in your lovely new job for a few weeks now. All seems well. Then you spot an advert for your job online. Are you about to lose your job? What about if you see your job advertised at a much higher salary? Should you be getting more money? If you’re the hiring manager you could be inundated with calls about a job that you are not looking to fill. All as the result of a fake advert.



Spotting a fake advert is tricky but, they often have a few tell-tale signs. There are normally obvious clues like the job being too good to be true or the exact same advert being used at opposite ends of the country. If a recruitment firm is looking to hire a C# Developer to supposedly work for the “worlds biggest Social Media company” in Witney, Oxfordshire but also in Truro, Cornwall and in Stockport, Greater Manchester (this is a true example!) then you know it is rather dubious to say the least!



If you have doubts about the authenticity then you can either not apply at all or give the consultant a call. If they refuse your call or never call you back (another popular bad Recruiter past-time) then apply to a different agency. Also, alarm bells should ring if you get told by the recruiter consistently that the role you’ve applied for has been filled but I’ve got another role that I’d like to talk to you about…. I bet the original role was never there in the first place!



Talking to the consultant also gives you the opportunity to see if you want to work with them. We firmly believe that you should be selective about which agencies you use to represent your career. You may not have thought about it but that’s what they’re doing. Most companies will use a couple of agencies so if you don’t like one, find someone else working with that client. It’s usually quite easy to do so by looking on the job boards. Alternatively, ask friends for specific recommendations of recruiters that they’ve worked with in the past. Industry bodies such as APSCo and REC are also worth a look too. If they’re officially accredited then the agency needs to agree to strict codes of conduct and they have a list of members on their websites.



Hopefully bad practice like this will disappear soon but in the mean time start talking to agencies to find your personal PSL. Good luck with the job hunt.



Victoria Watkins is Office Manager here at Corriculo Ltd. After working as a Recruitment Consultant for 5 years she moved to Office Management for an IT consultancy 6 years ago. Victoria was one of the first members of our team and deals with all of our administration and accounts. Connect with her on LinkedInTwitter or Google+