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Rise of the ‘Ghost Jobs’: Swansea ranked one of the worst cities in the UK for fake job adverts

Over a third of job adverts listed online are ‘ghost jobs’, a recruitment practice where companies fake job openings for their own benefit, new research has revealed.



woman in black long sleeve shirt sitting having interview

The research showed that over a third (34.4%) of job listings for 20 of the most in demand jobs in the UK were found to be ‘ghost jobs’.

The worst area for ghost jobs in the UK was the London borough of Islington where over a quarter (26.1%) of job listings were ghost jobs, followed by Southend-On-Sea (23.7%).

Swansea ranked tenth in the UK for ghost job adverts (19%), the highest ranked Welsh town or city.

Veterinary nurses looking for a new job were the most likely to find these listings on their job search, with almost three in five (59.1%) vacancies posted being ghost jobs.


Software engineers were the second most likely to face ghost jobs (46.5% of listings). 

One 2022 survey found that half (50%) of managers will use ghost job ads to get more candidates for future jobs, while 43% do it to give the impression that the company was growing when it wasn’t. 

This is a common practice for recruiters, but jobseekers are the people whose time is wasted applying for a role that never existed in the first place. 

Careers and CV experts, StandOut CV, led by ex-recruiter Andrew Fennell, wanted to find out just how big this problem is in the UK, where in the country the ghost job hotspots may be, and which job roles are most likely to face ghost job listings when looking for a new job. 

To do this, 91,318 job listings in the 30 biggest cities/towns/boroughs were analysed, reviewing the number of jobs posted and those that were still live, but posted ‘30+ days ago’ (the longest timeframe the job board allows). 


As no company is going to openly admit which job listings are real and fake, the ‘30+ days ago’ tag was used as an indicator of it being ‘ghostly’.

This data was analysed on 19/05/23 and again on 27/06/23 to get an average across two full months. 

Which city is the worst for ghost jobs in the UK?

Taking the UK’s 30 largest cities and boroughs as ranked by population, StandOut CV compared the number of live job adverts for each city with the number of live jobs that were posted 30+ days ago, which have a high probability of being ghost jobs. 

Below shows how different areas of the UK ranks for ghost job listings:

RankCity / Town / BoroughGhost Job Listings
10Kingston upon Hull19.0%
12City of Westminster18.1%

Which job roles are most likely to have ghost job listings? 

A separate dataset of almost 61,000 job listings for 20 popular jobs was also analysed. From this, StandOut CV was able to compare individual job roles and how many ghost job listings they had. 


Across the 20 jobs analysed, the average ghost job listing rate was over a third (34.4%) and remained fairly consistent in both May (34.8%) and June (33.4%).

Veterinary nurses are the most likely to fall victim to a ghost job out of all jobs analysed, with almost three in five (59.1%) of job listings in the UK in that sector being ghost jobs. Second to veterinary nurses were software engineers, where 46.5% of job listings were found to be ghost jobs, 

followed by cybersecurity analysts (45.7%), insurance brokers (43.5%), and graphic designers (42.4%).

RankJobGhost Job Listings
1Veterinary nurse59.1%
2Software engineer46.5%
3Cybersecurity analyst45.7%
4Insurance broker43.5%
5Graphic designer42.4%
6Web developer42.3%
7Data analyst38.6%
10Project manager31.6%

How can you tell if a job advert is a ghost job?

To check if a job advert is a ghost job, Andrew Fennell, former recruiter, Director of StandOut CV recommends:

  • Check the date posted on a job board, we advise job hunters avoid anything older than 30 days without verifying it’s still live. Some job boards don’t indicate if a job was posted 30 or 60 days ago, they’re simply labelled ‘30+ days’. 
  • Head to the company’s website, specifically their careers page to see if it is still active. Often they will label it as ‘Accepting applications’ or something similar. 
  • Contact the hiring manager or recruiter directly on LinkedIn to ask. You can say that you are interested but want to confirm if they are still taking applications. 
  • Review the job description for an application closing date, this may be buried right at the bottom.  
  • Search on LinkedIn/Twitter to see if there have been posts from someone celebrating their new job which matches the role you want to apply for.

Commenting on the research, Fennell further discussed the data and why ghost jobs are trending in 2023:

“Ghost job listings have been around for a while, but they’re now getting exposed as the job market becomes more competitive. It’s likely they appear more frequently for jobs that require highly-skilled and experienced candidates.”


“Unfortunately, it would be incredibly tough to regulate ghost jobs which is why I tell job hunters to research a role as much as they can, especially if a job description is lacking in detail or was posted a while ago.”

“If the job listing was posted 20-30 days ago, it could still be worth an application. To double-check, it’s worth sending a quick message to the recruiter on LinkedIn as this could save you a lot of time in the long run.”

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Claire

    7th September 2023 at 9:05 am

    Swansea isn’t the only Welsh place, Newport is 5th on the list. Last time I visited I’m pretty sure Newport was in Wales!!

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