Why advertise, if the vacancy is already filled?


Aside a significant number of people in Ghana who are ready and capable of working not finding jobs, there are also a considerable percentage of the employed class who want to change jobs for better working conditions, new experience or other reasons. Due to this need, many people are hooked up to job sites, job search websites and job boards.

The desperation in seeking an employment opportunity in most African countries which Ghana is no exception is very real because the percentage of the general populace who live below the poverty line as a result of unemployment is still high which means basic needs are still a luxury to some.

Therefore, every job application comes with emotional attachment and a raised hope of the applicant. However, many at times, job applications end with disappointment. This phenomenon is normal because not all applicants can be taken.

Being denied a job opportunity ‘fairly’ is not a big deal and one cannot make any noise about it. That is, if another applicant is more qualified than you, then obviously that person should get the nod. However, if an employer puts out a job vacancy advertisement for people to apply whiles the position is already filled, or the employer knows who will eventually fill the position beforehand, giving applicants a false hope of securing the employment then that is a big problem and a solution is needed.

It is possible the organization as a whole believes it will be conducting a fair recruitment process but it is the person in-charge of hiring who is bent on making the process unfair by filling the position with an applicant of his or her personal choosing regardless of qualification, the onus still lies on the entity as a whole to make sure recruitment is fair. This article therefore goes into unveiling this sort of behavior which is becoming rampant in the job market by citing two real job hunting experience, the meaning of such a practice, the effect this has on applicants, and then recommend solution to this problem.

Two true typical stories

A few years ago a friend of mine shared her story with me about a job she applied for. She told me she saw a job advert and applied for the position. She was subsequently called to come and do an aptitude test. She went to the venue where the aptitude test was supposed to take place a whole hour before the start of the test but to her amazement met about 34 people there who had already showed up for the same test.

The advert specifically stated that they needed only one person to fill the vacancy hence her anxiety because of her perceived chance of getting picked among this crowd of applicants. The test did start 40 minutes later than the specified start time with a total of over 50 people participating whom the company claimed had satisfied the first criteria. This meant these over 50 people were those who passed from the hundreds of application they received to go to the next stage. Four days after writing the exam, she got a congratulatory message having passed the aptitude test and was again invited to come for another kind of test. She showed up and saw they were 13 people to take part in this part.

They were all placed in a room with cameras and from time to time, someone will come and throw a question at them and ask them to discuss whiles they were being observed. Some of them took lead in the discussions, contributed sensibly and showed leadership. She believed she was one of those because she was called back again some days later to attend the final interview.

She claimed they were five  people who showed up for the interview. The other three she recognized from the last room discussion stage but the other young man, the youngest of them all she did not recognize. As usual they were all in suits even she being the only lady among them but the ‘new face’ had just a shirt and a necktie and no jacket. Although the others were a bit nervous, this young man slouched in his chair with his necktie slightly loosened up.

Long story short, my friend who at the time had a bachelor and master’s degrees in business administration with four years of working experience did not get the job. She said none of the other three who all had a bachelor degree in accounting or other business related degrees and some even possessing ACCA certificates did not get the job. To their surprise, the young man, whom she later found out was a final year student, pursing his bachelor’s degree without even a national service working experience under his belt got the job. In a nut shell, this young man did not only share a surname with a member of the board of that company but the board member was actually his father. He did not satisfy the qualifications the job required but he got the job.

The second example actually happened recently and it involved a public corporation. This entity put out an advertisement inviting applications for a management position. Another friend of mine wanted to apply for this position but doubted the authenticity of the advertisement so he called someone who worked in that organization. He was told the position has already been filled with a staff who has been promoted. The issue with this story is that, closing date for application was not up. Meaning people were still applying for the job. He did go ahead and apply and he did not even receive acknowledgement of his application.

The meaning of advertising a none-existing job vacancy

Disrespectful and morally wrong: An employer disrespects any person who applies for the advertised but none-existing job whether the person fully qualifies or not due to the fact that applicants do not stand the chance of getting the job. It is morally wrong as well because this is a clear example of deception and breaking a promise.

Deception: when one post a vacancy that does not exist, then that person is deceitfully raising job seekers hope. This is totally wrong and unethical.

Fraud and breach of privacy: when job seekers are made to surrender their personal data by sending their curriculum vitae and certificates although voluntarily, to an employer who has no intention of hiring them, that is clearly a fraudulent way of getting access to people’s data and a breach as well as an invasion into their privacy.

The impact of advertising a none-existing job vacancy on deserving applicants

Psychological well-being: Being denied of a job which you qualify for leads to a number of psychological and emotional problems. In a country where there is already existing perception that if your relative does not occupy a top position you are likely not to end up with a good job, your job being handed to another person just because the person relates to the decision-maker can cause depression and anxiety. Again anger and frustration becomes a known feeling in this situation. Furthermore, one in this circumstance could be sad and fearful. Most importantly, losing out on a job race unfairly can lead to feelings of worthlessness and loss of self-esteem. All these negative attributes affect ones physical health as well.

Physical well-being: After many attempts and continuous denial of a deserving job just because your surname does not ring a bell on any employers’ desk can cause fatigue and even headaches. This can lead to sleeplessness and after suffering with its accompanied psychological effects, could also lead to weight loss or excessive unwanted weight gain. Nausea, stomach upset and even muscle pain cannot also be ruled out as the feeling of the cloud being too far away from you no matter how hard you try and the realization that there will never be a level playing field in the job market.

That is, the realization that those connected and related to top executives of firms will mostly get a job that you deserve will not only bring about emotional issues but physical as well.

Suggested solution to ‘deceptive’ job advertising

To curb or reduce job advertising deception and put a stop to wasting applicant’s time and resources, this article suggests a legal action. If an organization is taken to court by an applicant who believes he or she has been duped into believing in a job vacancy which did not exist and has been awarded a hefty sum of money and made known to the public, will help decrease the prevalence of this occurrence. Even just the threat to sue or actually suing without getting the outcome sort for will get the needed results with either the organization compensating the victim or the organization conducting its own investigation which will lead to the punishment of the person at the helm of affairs who used his or her position to thwart the hiring process.

Raising a job seekers hope of the chance of getting employed whiles the job has already being given to someone which means the neutral seeker has no chance of getting the job is simply cruel and therefore demands compensation. This article therefore advises job seekers who can gather evidence to support the claim that the job they applied for has been given to another person not because of qualification but through ‘he-knows-me’ syndrome or due to an ‘inside person’s’ push to contact a lawyer, go to court, and seek compensation from the deceiving company since the seeker is bound to suffer from both psychological and physical complications.

Although I am not a lawyer and have a limited layman’s legal knowledge, I believe there are quite a number of avenues which can aid to suing a firm if you believe you have been deceived into parting away with resources to no benefit. To start, one can sue for false promises. That is suing an employer for knowingly advertising a vacancy which has already being filled, and making a public promise that it is vacant. I understand one can also sue for negligent misrepresentation which in this case will mean carelessly presenting a none-existing job vacancy which will be in breach of duty the organization owes to any person who will see the advertisement. I also believe one can sue for fraudulent inducement which in the circumstance will mean the applicant has been tricked into believing in a contract which does not exist and therefore claim that the organization has acted as a fraudster by misrepresenting a material fact.

I do know that one does not need a formally written vacancy contract duly signed by an employer to prove deception if it is later found out that the vacancy did not exist but any spoken statement, advert and the like which can be assessed by the general public can equally prove the above mentioned breaches which will be grounds for suing. For example by the concept of ‘promissory estoppel’, if a failed applicant is able to prove that: (1) the employer made a promise that a vacancy exists; (2) the employer did not keep the promise by not keeping the position vacant to aid every applicant to have an equal chance of getting the job; (3) the applicant decided to invest time, energy and other resources into applying for this job based on the promise made the employer; and (4) as a result of trusting or believing the promise, the applicant face a loss in the form of money, or other resources, the applicant can duly sue the employer who advertised the job vacancy.

As already established, I am not a lawyer and therefore the legal advice being given above should not be taken as the gospel. However, there is a hint of knowledge in it. Therefore a proper lawyer’s advice in this matter is needed in order to know if one has a case to proceed to court or not.


The practice of influential people or those at management level in organizations pushing their relatives or people they know into job vacancies exist everywhere in the world and I believe it is not going to stop and therefore not the focus of this article. In extension, even offering a job opportunity to a relative who qualifies is not what this article is bringing to the fore. What I am looking at is the moral rational of employers trumpeting to the general public that there are job vacancies in their organizations when in fact there is not because the person to fill that vacancy is already known which means no other applicant stands a chance. That is, any employer who decide to promote an existing staff to fill a vacant position or bring in his nephew to fill the position will be in his or her own right to do so. But if that decision has been taken, employers should not advertise for others to waste their time to apply to a none-existing opportunity.

Such an act is disrespectful, morally wrong as well as fraudulent and it is about time such practice stops. This article is therefore suggesting that if any job applicant can prove that an employer made a job vacancy advertisement knowing very well that the position has already being filled or knows who will fill it beforehand and still goes ahead to portray the existence of the vacancy, thereby making applicants waste their resources in applying for the job, the applicant should find a lawyer and proceed to court in order to be compensated.

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