Right Or Wrong: “Recruiters Advertise Fake Jobs”

Recruiters Advertise Fake Jobs | Kennedy Executive Career Advice

Often right – though it is illegal to do so in some countries. Yet some recruiters advertise fake jobs, completely made up and neither the job nor the company exist (this is valid for recruiters who work on success fees and who have to build a “candidate pool”).

For the last 13 years since I started in this profession, I heard over and over again candidates who complained that when they met their recruiter, the job “was gone”, had “just been filled” or more bluntly “does not exist” and had the aim “to attract candidates”.

None of these explanations and especially not the last one proves superior intelligence or tact of the recruiter.

What is the explanation for this behavior?

Two models co-exist in the market: “push” and “pull” meaning recruitment firms who “push” the candidate, often without an assignment or, if they have it, without exclusivity and “pull” where the assignment is given first to the headhunter and the search begins afterwards. In short, the first ones work at success fees, the second ones with retainers. Click here for more details, including the question if you have to pay a retainer as a client.

Category one number of recruitment firms needs candidates and in order to get these, they might decide to post job advertisements that do not exist. Furthermore, ratios are given to the consultants which are something like “You have to interview 10 candidates per week, including 2 VIP candidates”. “VIP candidates” are decision makers with the only reason to get job orders from, today and/ or you as soon as you have found your next job. But you might not find it through these recruiters!


Yes, some recruiters will put sexy job advertisements on their homepage to get YOUR resume for a job does not exist or has almost been filled in 2009 by a colleague who has left the company in the meantime. Choose your headhunter wisely (here are some tips how to recognize a good one), preferably one who works retained only, and we can be a catalyst for your career.

Jorg Stegemann
Jorg Stegemann - Headhunter, Certified Coach and Business Writer - is the CEO of Kennedy Executive Search. Apart from running Kennedy's company blog, he writes for Forbes, BBC and other media.
  1. Hossein Reply

    I liked that. That’s what I have felt many time… although I’ve never noticed any further action in my case

    • Dana Reply

      I agree with you. Now I wonder how many of the roles I have applied for in the past 5 weeks are actually genuine. I spend a considerable amount of time filing in applications and ‘tweaking’ my CV and Cover Letter to make them appealing to companies looking to hire. Very rarely I get any sort of feedback from them. Looks like these days, getting a job interview is a stroke of luck.

  2. Brendan Reply

    I am a little outraged by recruiters advertising fake jobs. It’s a good strategy for them, I suppose, but it seems wrong.

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Brendan, thanks. I agree…

  3. Mahmud Reply

    Jorg Stegemann is truly a breath of fresh air as described above by Alissa. Let us hope it works in a stampede of dishonest people around you in the recruitment business. I am not entirely in recruitment business. My firm has done studies in management for banks, corporations and oil companies. We have done some recruitment under contracts with multi-national oil companies, and I cannot ever think of indulging in such practices.

  4. Tony Reply

    Based on my experience, some do and some don’t. My firm in NYC did not. However, it was very easy for us to build an “inventory” quickly in a metro-area will a high population density of skilled workers. However, isn’t finding a job….a numbers game? Is there really such thing as a bad interview? Don’t get me wrong: misrepresenting openings is just as egregious as misrepresenting oneself on a resume.

  5. Jody Dugan Reply

    Thank you for the article, Jorg. I agree with you that there are some recruiters out there who lack the professionalism and integrity, and post fabricated job orders that are mysteriously filled at first contact with a candidate.

    Just like any profession, the recruiting industry is tainted with bad eggs. The good thing is…They are easy to detect! A job seeker should be able to spot this type of personality within the first 30 seconds of contact with them.

    On another note, the job market is everchanging and jobs are filled hourly. There are times where a job seeker may respond to an ad and it is filled that day. A good recruiter will present them with other opportunities they may have at the present time or call them for future suitable positions. A future call provides a win-win situation for both recruiters and job seekers.

    That being said, it is up to the job seeker to be in tune with all parties they interact with and any red flags they may encounter. Egomaniacs exist in all realms of our world…it’s your choice to let them in or to move on and find a recruiter who cares.

  6. Dino Reply

    True, so true… filling the database…

    There are enough recruiting firms that say they have a vacancy at company X, but they don’t. They will use your resume to contact that company because they have a good candidate…

    If that company does not want to work with that recruiting agency, eventhough your resume is a 100% match for that vacancy, your chance with that company could be gone…

  7. Alissa Reply

    I am experiencing some ‘trickery’ techniques from using job boards. My phone is exploding with calls from mysterious 800 numbers, even though I specifically posted my contact information as “anonymous”. And potential “employers” using similar mystery techniques in job description to lure the candidate to interview; yet, they have no web site, etc. I had a recruiter call me yesterday so excited about my “great credentials” only to send me a follow-up e-mail calling me “Pat” in his salutation. The credibility of these web sites is in great question, and I will likely withdraw soon. So tired of insurance companies and a myriad of others calling, but not legitimate business opportunities suitable to my credentials.

    I have been following your posts for a while now, Jorg, and just want to mention that you are truly a “breath of fresh air” in the recruiter world. I love your values, ethics, and posts you share.

  8. Jorg Stegemann
    Jorg Stegemann Reply

    Alissa, thanks and this is hard to tell. I can be sexy job titles but then, I put ads which are called “Director Controlling Blue Chip” or “High Potential XYZ” and my ads are 100% true.

    A valid indicator can be that the recruiter is not able to answer clearly on questions on the company or is very evasive.

    But then again, as I wrote it: a recruiter who invites you for an interview does so because s/he thinks that s/he can generate a fee with you…

Leave a Reply