What Percentage of Jobs are Filled from Advertised Positions?

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Sometimes you come across an advertised job posting on Indeed or LinkedIn that’s so perfect, it almost feels like it was tailored made for you. You match every job qualification. You’ve got all the right experience. Your resume basically screams “hire me!”

So, you apply for this seemingly perfect job. And you wait. As it turns out, you don’t even get called for an interview. What gives?

The fact is, less than 15% of every job that’s advertised on popular job boards (e.g., LinkedIn, Google, Monster, Indeed, etc.) gets filled by candidates who apply through that job board.

That statistic may seem surprising at first glance, but it does make sense. After all, we know that companies hire from within all the time. At least 50% of all job openings are filled by internal candidates.

And then there are employee referrals. According to Forbes, employee referrals continue to be a leading source of top-quality talent for almost 9 in 10 employers. Again, not altogether shocking.

However, what we think may surprise you is the fact that many companies who advertise job openings are not looking for candidates to apply. They may not even care if not one resume comes through the portal. Many companies are posting these positions more or less “for show.”

It sounds confusing at first, but it actually makes sense once you understand what’s behind it. Let’s get into it.

Is There a Law About Advertised Positions?

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There are laws at the federal and state levels to prevent discriminatory hiring practices and the use of discriminatory language in job postings. For example, an employer can’t write “married men encouraged to apply” or “military veterans need not apply” in any of their job postings.

However, there is no law that says an open position at a company must be advertised. It doesn’t have to be advertised on a job board, in a newspaper, or on the company website.  

This is definitely one of those facts that doesn’t quite sound true, but it is. (The one notable exception is for certain federal contractors who must post jobs with state employment agencies to ensure veterans have access to these jobs.)

Now, even though most companies are not legally required to advertise a job vacancy, many of them still choose to do so. Even if they already know who they want to hire, and that person is already working for the company, they will post the job to all the popular job boards and accept applications.

Why would a company make themselves jump through the extra hoops of posting a job and even scheduling interviews if there’s no law compelling them to do so?

An internal recruiter can simply just say, “Joe’s a good employee. We trust him. Let’s give Joe’s referral the job.” Or, a hiring manager can think, “Maggie has worked really hard this year. I want to give her the promotion. She deserves it.”

Basically, a company posts all job openings to cover their bases. They don’t want it to look like that they have discriminatory hiring practices of any kind. If a company relies solely on employee referrals and internal hires, that company can very easily be accused of violating the Equal Employment Act.

Here’s an example. Let’s imagine that 50% of Company ABC’s employees speak Spanish as their first language. That company may rely on their employees to refer their friends to open positions within the company.

It just so happens that their Spanish-speaking employees bring in their friends who also speak Spanish as their first language. Over time, it can start to look like Company ABC has a bias towards hiring Spanish-speaking individuals.

If someone who doesn’t speak Spanish applies for a job and doesn’t get it, they may then turn around and claim that they are being discriminated against—especially if the job description doesn’t list speaking Spanish as a requirement.

This can be a hard accusation for Company ABC to defend against if they can’t produce a long record of outreach to external candidates.

The Phantom Job Phenomenon

sources of recruitment

As a result, many companies have a standard policy of listing every job opening that’s available, even if they already know who’s going to fill the position. Even if someone is getting a promotion, the role they are being promoted to will still be advertised as an open position to the public. This way, they can always show that they are offering their positions to everyone.

This has led to the phenomenon known as phantom job postings. These jobs look like authentic job postings on job boards; however, the public job posting is a mere formality undertaken to comply with internal HR policies that mandate the advertising of open positions.

Of course, phantom jobs shouldn’t be confused with hidden jobs. Unlike phantom jobs, hidden jobs are never posted to any job boards. In effect, a job seeker never knows that a hidden job is even available. That’s because it’s either filled right away with an internal candidate or by a referred candidate.

Hidden jobs and phantom jobs are equally problematic for external candidates. Essentially what this means is, as a job seeker, your competition isn’t other external candidates, but employees that are already working for the company you want to be at.   

What’s the Solution?

sources of recruitment

Because such a small percentage of jobs are filled form advertised positions, you have to take definitive steps to increase your chances of landing a job.

The best thing you can do is connect with former colleagues or friends that work at companies you’re interested in. They can give you a personal recommendation to the hiring manager and bypass the job boards. Also, make sure you have a strong resume that immediately showcases your skills, experience, and the value you bring.

Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

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