Dear Matt: I recently learned that not all job postings are real, up-to-date, or even something companies truly want to receive applicants for. Is this really true?

Matt says: Welcome to the reality of the broken hiring process across America, says Catherine Byers Breet, owner of Eagan-based Arbez ( and a talent acquisition expert with more than 15 years' experience in the professional recruiting industry.

Byers Breet has three clients who have dealt with exactly this, all in the past six months:

• Alejandro saw his dream job posted online in Dallas and was so excited he picked up the phone and called the contact listed in the job posting -- who happened to be Byers Breet. The trouble is, she filled that position for an ODI ETL developer in July 2008. Even worse, that company got sold and no longer exists.

• Sandy saw a posting for her dream job in Minneapolis and networked her way in to the hiring manager. The hiring manager, however, was very confused, because he had filled that marketing job a year before.

• Bob applied online in St. Paul, heard nothing back and then hit his network -- only to discover that the company had already hired an internal applicant, and never really intended to hire an external applicant.

What is going on here?

In Dallas, the IT staffing firm that posted that Oracle job constantly scours the market to fill their database with potential future hires. Byers Breet happens to write great job postings, so this staffing firm "borrowed" her posting but forgot to remove her contact details.

In Minneapolis, the HR generalist forgot to pull the posting off the Internet when the position was filled with an employee referral.

The large St. Paul company that already hired an internal applicant? They have strict anti-discrimination policies, so every position must be posted online, even if they intend to hire internal candidates only.

However, all was not lost for Alejandro, Sandy or Bob. The hiring manager Sandy spoke with felt so bad -- especially because she was referred to him by a mutual friend -- that he referred her to a friend at another company and she got that job.

"If you see a posting that makes your heart sing, pick up the phone and try to find real people who can connect you to the decision makers," said Byers Breet. "Alejandro, Sandy and Bob were smart -- they used the job posting as an excellent excuse to call and network into companies that needed someone with their skills. That kept their job search momentum moving in the right direction."

And got at least one of them hired, even if the original job posting they responded to wasn't real.