There are currently 9.6 million job openings in America, yet companies are struggling to fill roles that have been vacant for months. At the same time, job seekers have applied to thousands of positions without hearing back. If employers are desperate for talent, why is it so difficult for job seekers to land roles? A closer look reveals mismatches in hiring processes and applicant priorities.
The Chasm Between Openings and Unemployed
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 9.6 million job openings and only 6.5 million unemployed Americans. In theory, connecting the talent to the opportunities should be straightforward.
However, what makes a “job opening” reveals a different story. Openings simply indicate a position exists, could start within 30 days, and the company is actively recruiting – regardless of actual long-term need or availability. For example, Amazon’s 2021 employee turnover rate exceeded 150% – meaning they hired 2.4 million people to maintain a 1.6 million person workforce. Only one-third stayed beyond 90 days, yet roles remained constantly posted.
Other retailers and warehouses follow similar practices for frontline positions plagued by turnover. But even coveted corporate roles at Amazon had disconnects. One leaked report showed 25,000 openings posted for a specific team, with only 7,800 actually approved to hire for.
So job opening statistics paint an overly optimistic view of availability. Furthermore, the 6.5 million unemployed Americans have actively applied for work within strict parameters to be officially “counted.” Millions more want jobs but don’t meet technical criteria.
Applicant Pool Discouraged by Job Ghosts
Another mismatch occurs because employers increasingly post “ghost jobs” with no intention of hiring. Sixty percent of listings have remained open over two months despite claims of urgency. Reasons include:
- Building candidate databases for future recruiting
- Placating overworked staff with promises of assistance
- Signaling growth to impress investors
This wastes applicants’ time and discourages them from continually applying. Companies suffer consequences too, however.
Businesses Struggle to Justify Investments
Firstly, technologies have automated many previously skilled roles like pharmacists and bank managers. As tasks simplified, loyalty and retention decreased. Job hopping became necessary to maximize salaries.
Consequently, companies saw little return on investing in training. Instead they sought candidates with existing skills but struggled to find perfect matches. As standards increased, they could justify resorting to overseas talent pipelines claiming domestic skill shortages.
Yet acknowledging hiring challenges publicly can negatively impact stock prices. So executives stay silent unless strategically useful, further obscuring realities.
Talent Opting for Entrepreneurship
Secondly, over 5 million businesses launched in 2022, up 44% from pre-pandemic levels. New platforms like Etsy, Uber, and YouTube facilitate entrepreneurship. Despite higher risks, working for oneself presents an appealing alternative to contending with dysfunctional job market.
In summary, while news headlines the supposedly urgent talent needs of employers, the full picture shows great dysfunction. Job numbers distort realities on both sides, ghost postings mislead applicants, companies disincentivize investments in talent, and more Americans forge their own career paths. All this fuels ongoing hiring woes despite what otherwise seems like plentiful opportunities in a growing economy.