“Ghost Jobs” Could Soon be a Thing of the Past

May 9, 2024

Have you ever applied to a job posting and wondered whether the job actually exists? You’re not alone. You may be applying to “Ghost Jobs”—in other words, jobs where the employer has no intention of hiring. Now, the Ontario Government has announced new rules to end the practice, and give job seekers more transparency throughout the hiring process.

As we wrote about recently, the process of applying to jobs has become more and more impersonal. There have never been more digital layers in between job seekers and HR or hiring managers who will actually read a resume. It’s easier than ever to apply to jobs, but it’s also harder than ever to get your resume actually read. 

If you’ve ever been through the process of applying to jobs online—and heard crickets in reply—you’ve probably found yourself wondering: does this job actually exist? Is anyone reading my application? 

Well, in some cases, the job doesn’t actually exist. Late last year, the Toronto Star published an exposé all about “ghost jobs,” in other words employers posting jobs that don’t actually exist. It cited a survey where 43% of U.S. hiring managers admitted to posting fake jobs in the past year. 

Now, perhaps inspired by that reporting, the Ontario provincial government is tabling new legislation to end the practice. On Friday, the Toronto Star reported about an imminent announcement from Labour Minister David Piccini about a new “Working for Workers” bill, which will require large companies who post a job to actually have a job they’re hiring for. 

It’s welcome news. Today, we want to talk a little bit about this practice, and what the implications are for job candidates and companies looking to hire. 

First of all, why do companies post “Ghost Jobs”?

There are many reasons why employers post jobs that don’t actually exist. Sometimes, there are internal policies that require hiring managers to post jobs externally, even if they have a preferred internal candidate who will likely get the role. Other times, they’re putting feelers out there for a role that doesn’t exist yet, but might in the future. Some organizations will post jobs just to get intel about how many candidates might be available in a certain market. 

There are less savoury reasons why companies post ghost jobs as well. Sometimes companies post jobs just for appearances sake, to make it look like they’re growing even if they’re not, or to placate overworked incumbent employees. In the world of recruitment agencies, some less-than-savoury recruiters post fake job listings hoping to get inbound candidates that they can then market to possible clients in the hope of placing them. 

Sometimes the reason is pretty benign: in the survey cited by the Toronto Star, 27% of the hiring managers surveyed said that they had simply forgotten to take an old job posting down. 

No matter the reasons, these ghost jobs create frustrating experiences for job seekers everywhere, and the government is taking notice. 

New transparency requirements for job postings:

As part of the proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act, large companies will have to disclose if a position actually exists. The government will consult on the exact size of companies that will have to disclose this information, and then tailor the requirements, with the goal of holding large companies especially accountable.

There are other requirements in the proposed legislation aimed at making things easier for job seekers in Ontario. For one, employers will now have to give feedback to candidates they turn down after placing another candidate. No longer can companies ghost candidates, without offering feedback, after unsuccessful job interviews. This change would make Ontario the first province in the country to mandate feedback to candidates. In addition, the government will be raising the fine for violations of the employment standards act, doubling the maximum fine. 

The government is considering adopting a gentle approach, initially, for companies that fail to meet the new requirements, focusing on educating them about their responsibilities under the new rules. But if companies keep posting ghost jobs, or ghosting candidates after interviews, fines will follow.

So what are the implications for hiring? 

Obviously, companies who post ghost jobs will have to change their practices. Same goes for companies who don’t get back to candidates after they interview them. 

But on a larger level, these changes speak to a general shift in the job market, and in the attitude that companies should take to hiring. In 2024, you can’t treat job candidates like an infinite resource who will beat down your door at the slightest mention of an opportunity. In other words, you can’t take them for granted. 

Practices like posting jobs that don’t exist, or failing to give feedback after job interviews, are relics of an outdated model of recruitment. It’s a model that assumes that companies have all the leverage in the process, that candidates won’t talk to each-other about their experiences, and that those bad experiences won’t result in reputational damage that may affect the quality of applicants that the company receives in the future, if not the quantity. If a company adopts these shady practices, candidates will notice sooner or later. 

Now, it seems, the government will too. 

If you’re working in Argentus’ specialties of Supply Chain and Procurement, and looking to take the next step in your career without throwing your resume into the void, reach out to Argentus today.

And if you have any immediate or upcoming hiring needs in Supply Chain and Procurement, and want to tap into Canada’s most sophisticated talent network to hire faster and more effectively, we’d love to hear from you as well! Call 416 364 9919 or send a brief note to


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