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Bleak workplace trend emerges across Australia: 'That job doesn't exist'

With Aussies applying for jobs across the country, some are what's known in the industry as 'ghost' roles.

Zoe Lo next to job rejection application
Fake job ads are popping up on sites across Australia and it's causing jobseekers like Zoe Lo to get frustrated. (Source: TikTok/Getty)

There's a frustrating workplace trend existing in Australia and it's only going to add to the woes of jobseekers across the country. You might have applied for a role you saw online and had high hopes about the potential new gig.

But after submitting your application, all you hear is crickets. While you might not have been the right candidate, there's also a chance the job never existed.

Superior People Recruitment founder Graham Wynn told Yahoo Finance "ghost job ads" are an unfortunate process many businesses engage with.

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"What a lot of companies do, particularly recruiters, is put trade jobs on there because the more jobs they have on it, if they've got the budget, the smaller companies can't compete," he said.

"So their jobs always appear first and then push the small ones further down the page."

He added that if a business was using SEEK, Indeed or another job site, they would usually pay for a package for a certain number of ads. If they didn't use all the ad slots, then they would just post "fake" ones to fill the gaps.

But those aren't the only reasons for a business to put out ghost ads.

Have you been struggling to get a job? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

"Some recruiters use [the ads] as a marketing tool to say, 'We specialise in these areas, look at the vacancies we've got'," Wynn said.

"We haven't got those vacancies, but employers see what's a vacancy in that industry and think, 'They must be good in the industry, we'll ring them'. So it's like a marketing tool."

Wynn told Yahoo Finance that it's important for jobseekers to check how long a job ad has been active for.

"When I look on websites and it says this job was posted 12 months ago ... clearly that job doesn't exist," he said.

There's also a chance that the role you see online is only there because it has to be.

Wynn gave an example of a company that recently had to advertise a job online because they had to show they were willing to accept an external candidate. However, the business had already hired someone internally.

"But under that EBA, they had to advertise it online. So they advertised it knowing full well they'd already selected the person for the job," he said.

For the jobs that do exist, there can be a certain "ghostness" about them as well.

The recruitment company founder said sometimes jobs will remain on sites even after the role has been filled just in case the winning candidate backs out or for market intelligence.

There has been no shortage of people flocking to social media to complain about the job market at the moment, with some people applying for dozens, even hundreds of roles and not even getting a reply.

Wynn said because of new technology that only passes candidates with the right skills to the first round, it's difficult for every applicant to get a message about whether their submission was successful or not.

But that doesn't help the many Aussies who get heartbroken with each and every rejection.

Zoe Lo had been searching for a job for four months after her full-time contract as a cancer research assistant came to an end. Despite spending countless hours working on applications, she found herself being “ghosted and rejected” from the majority of jobs she applied for.

“At the start, I was very stressed about finding something immediately so I was applying for a lot of jobs everyday,” the 24-year-old explained to Yahoo Finance.

“I know it is a process and takes a while, especially now that so many people are applying for jobs as well. But I didn’t expect to be out of a job for so long."

But she's since changed her mindset to ensure she doesn't get crushed by the constant rejection.

Lo told herself that "this will take some time" and "you’re doing the most that you can".

"And that built up to having a mindset of letting go and being ok with whatever happens," she said.

The unemployment rate edged down to 4 per cent in May from 4.1 in April.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the drop was driven by a large cohort who had been waiting to start work in the previous survey.

But competition for jobs is also fierce right now. SEEK found job ads declined 4.7 per cent from April to May, while the number of applications per job jumped 8.6 per cent.

“Competition for live roles continues to grow, with applications per job ad rising significantly in March, and in almost all industries,” SEEK ANZ managing director Kendra Banks said.

“Hirers are therefore holding a lot of power in the market with many willing candidates for the roles available.”

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