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Yesterday and the day before, I came across four job postings on GlassDoor that were fake. I usually call the company to find out the name of the person I should address in my cover letter, and all three told me those job postings weren't real.

This morning I found another job posting and I intend to call and ask who I should address my cover letter to, but I also want to make sure it's real. The company website doesn't have a careers section, so I can't verify its authenticity.

Is it unprofessional to ask if the job posting is real? Does it sound like an unusual question?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Apr 5 at 0:57
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    Just curious; what purpose does it serve to have non-real job postings? – RedSonja Apr 5 at 10:57
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    How would you feel if someone asked if this is a real question? – UKMonkey Apr 5 at 11:08
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    @RedSonja - I don't really know, perhaps to collect resumes and store them in a database somewhere? who knows? It's funny to me that this happened 4 times within 2 days though. – user102377 Apr 5 at 13:51
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    @RedSonja "what purpose does it serve to have non-real job postings?" See here. – code_dredd Apr 5 at 16:53
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You can ask indirectly.

Simply say "I have a question about job X for skills Y that I saw posted on Z jobs board."

If they say there is no job X, that they aren't looking for skills Y, or that they don't post jobs to Z, you'll have your answer.

Just make sure you have an actual question about the job if it is real. :)

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    This. That way you get the same info without asking the IMHO slightly unprofessional question – Hobbamok Apr 5 at 23:51
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You've already identified a good way to do that: Ask who the person of contact is. If the posting is fake they'll tell you as much, and if not, you avoid offending them by asking.

  • Is it unprofessional to do so? I don't want to ask the wrong question and get my application thrown out. – user102377 Apr 4 at 14:26
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    @nsonline I can't think of a good reason that they would find a call to get more information about an available position to be "unrprofessional". – JMac Apr 4 at 17:15
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    Besides, if you're really concerned about this, use a fake name when calling them so they can't match your call to your application. But unless your question is extraordinarily stupid, they'll have forgotten your name 10 seconds after the call. – Guntram Blohm Apr 5 at 4:51
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    @GuntramBlohm In a large company? Yes. In a smaller (<20 people) company? You'd be surprised what people remember from slow days. – Mast Apr 6 at 5:39
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I understand your concern. Data is now being sold everywhere and people are trying to get their hands on as much data as possible. To determine if a job offer is fake or not, you can try a few simple solutions:

  1. Check the email. Recruiters are using professional email to contact others, so, if it's a Gmail message, and it looks like recruitement-company@gmail.com or something similar then most of the time it's a fake.
  2. Ask about details. Don't give your resume just because someone told you he/she wanted it. Ask about the opportunity and more details. It's your right, and if it's really an opportunity and you're not interested in it then you can simply decline, otherwise you can then try and apply.
  3. Fast replies, but don't rely on this one too much. If a person replies too fast, that means that he/she was just waiting for the opportunity to get an answer from someone. Most recruiters answer the email after a certain period even if they saw it instantly.
  4. All job offers contain details about the company. If there are no details about the company then something is off and probably it's a fake job offer and that company doesn't even exist.

You can just check offers, and eventually you'll know how to tell if it's a fake or not just by looking at the offer, but it's not guaranteed 100%. I've seen offers that even someone who hasn't checked a single offer in their lives will say it's fake, but in fact they were real offers.

Good luck.

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I assume when you say "fake" you mean they are consulting firms that are making the posts. Here's what I found out about weeding these consulting firms out:

  1. If immediately after applying (within 5 minutes) you get a phone call, then you know it's fake
  2. You see the same ad frequently posted or the same post is bumped daily, then you know it is fake (this might also be an indicator of a real company, but with high turn over rates).
  3. You notice a company has the word "Staffing" or "Consultant" somewhere in it, but no actual company.
  4. After "applying" to the job, you get requests to move 1000s of miles away from your current application area.

Eventually you'll be a master at spotting "fake" or spam advertisements. I personally think they should make a law on posting these sort of ads on job postings sites, but my guess is they are their #1 customers compared to a firm only posting one job.

But as always try to go to good source for jobs. Don't go on something like Craigslist, LinkedIn (at least random communications you get on a public profile), or ads on your local newspaper. If you do use those sources, be skeptical of the post and pay attention to small clues. Also try to figure out how companies are able to post on the site. Is anyone able to post? Or is it vetted prior to posting?

  • @aCVn: Where do you work? Not asking for the specific company, just the industry. I am curious what kinds of companies still pay to post job advertisements in newspapers these days... – V2Blast Apr 6 at 6:00
  • @V2Blast - I saw and applied for an office clerk job advertised in the news paper at a reputable insurance company. They do happen, and I suspect it isn't as expensive as it used to be, but it is one of the ways to reach potential candidates. – user102377 Apr 7 at 19:22
  • Unfortunately, not all staffing firms are fake, nor post fake jobs. I've have many short-term jobs from agencies I'd hadn't heard of before. If multiple agencies post the same job (with the same language), then the hiring company may be spamming, but the agencies (at least in this case) are probably not. – Shawn V. Wilson Apr 9 at 20:10
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I don't think it is ever unprofessional to be sceptical about things found on the internet. Everyone knows the internet is full of everything from mild deception to downright lies, so no-one should mind you checking to make sure.

I get emails saying "please find our purchase order attached". Usually it's dangerous spam, sometimes it's a genuine order. I explain to people that the mail looks similar to many spam messages, and we can't risk opening mail attachments unless we are sure, so could they please confirm it is genuine. No-one ever minds.

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