The Dirty Business Tactic of ‘Fake Job Openings’

I was part of a research team in the university where we wrote a small but massively distributable software and run it overnight on beast hardware to crawl over the job postings of 10000+ companies around the world for 2 years and tracked the linkedin profiles of people who changed job titles into the companies we researched. Last but not least, we organised “fake experts” to go as applicant and collect insights from fake interviews… often this was very interesting and provided excellent interview training for the fake experts.

The data that we manage to collect showed that more than 90% of the job offers are fake and less than 2% were real, the rest were unclear but very suspicious. There were huge and obvious discrepencies: annual financial report of the company stated number of newly hired people while the job openings during the year were many times more; the linkedin users who changed job titles into these companies were close aproximation of the number stated in the financial reports.

So, why so many fake job openings? – according to our data it was mainly due to dirty business tactics:

  • Do not know what to do with this budget: Companies go under reorganisation replacement postings are automatically opened because it is the middle of the year and nobody wants to loose its budget but there is no real plan to hire anyone. These position stay open until the budget is redirected. All job applicants are lied.
  • Companies do corporate espionage: a position is opened – the company might even try to head-hunt top candidates from competitors – to track for new products and technologies in a certain field. You go on the interview and you share you current work at a competitor, your salary expectations and other details. During the interview you provide answers to tough industry questions and thus give insights from your employer. At the end you are rejected either because you are considered a traitor or because anyway there was no intention to hire anyone.
  • Companies research the job market: they open various positions and try to determine the salary ranges and how to adjust the employement costs. This is very common pattern and it is a regular process maintained by many companies, especially the bigger ones.
  • Sell me job market data: This is very massive and maybe the worst example. The main players are the recruitment agencies who produce fake jobs offers (often supported by their clients, same that try to research salary ranges) to get your data for free (salary expectation, willingness to relocate, motivation, number of experts in the field etc) and to produce expensive consulting services and insight reports. Our research showed that San Francisco, Seattle, New York, London, Amsterdam, Dublin (Ireland), Sydney are pretty packed with such bad agencies. In order to keep their image clean they often rebrand or work through freelancers. An average recruitment specialist can easily obtain data from 100 people per week: 40 000 misleaded applicants are more than enough to start selling insights that will be valid for at least an year. The agencies lie to the biggest number of people: The percentage of recruitment agencies who bombard with fake job offers to get your data for free was stunning: 97% in UK, 95% in New York, 92% in Seattle, 92% in San Francisco, 83% in Sydney, 82% in Dublin (Ireland), 83% in Amsterdam etc. When they collect enough data they sell to their customers consulting for BPO practices, recruitment, sourcing, salary ranges and thus f*k up not only the lied applicants but also the people who have not applied for their fake job offers and work at their customers.

And the dirtiest of them all: In UK we found the dirtiest business practice. A recruitment agency (usually a group of people pretending to be an agency just because they have a fancy web-site) approaches applicants from low-cost locations (Spain, Portugal, Russia, Eastern Europe, India, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia etc) and offer them jobs in UK, Western Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and similar “nice” locations with full rellocation and last but not least the agency takes care for the whole rellocation process end-to-end. People apply and after 3–4 interviews are approved. Then they are asked to send money for their rellocation process (taxes, documents, visa, work permit etc) even fake invoice is send. Once you send the money the recruiter dissapears. This was not a single case and was observed at least 11 times during our research.

So, stay away from online job offers; stay very far away from recruiters; and last but not least be very suspicious with recruiters/staffers who want to join your social networks because in most cases they act as social engineers among your trusted contacts. I prefer to stay in the academia where we have our own set of dirty tactics 🙂

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