Why Your Important Positions Are Going Unfilled … and What to Do About It

The average duration of job vacancies is at a record high. Ask yourself, why? A shortage of skilled workers, unrealistic employer expectations, depleted HR departments, unable to identify qualified candidates due to limited recruiting efforts? See a few of the top reasons that some roles go unfilled in HR Daily Advisor, Stephen Bruce’s article.

It would seem that millions of available potential employees should make vacant positions easy and quick to fill, but that’s simply not the case lately. Here are some of the top reasons that some roles go unfilled:

  • Unemployment has decreased substantially. This means there are fewer individuals applying for any given position. By default, this means some roles will take longer to fill than before.
  • There is a shortage of workers with specific skill sets. This is true across a multitude of industries within our economy. It ranges from manufacturing to technical positions. It is especially true in fields like health care and engineering where specific technical skills are required.
  • The expectations and required experience may be too specific. Some employers that were inundated with applications from unqualified individuals during the recession have opted to make their experience and skills requirements extremely specific in order to quickly weed out unqualified candidates and narrow the candidate pool to only the most highly qualified. Unfortunately, this can also weed out otherwise qualified candidates if the focus gets too narrow.
  • Wages have stagnated. With wage stagnation comes the likelihood that the pay or benefits you offer may not match up with the expectations of potential employees. Some businesses are finding that even when they identify a qualified candidate and make an offer, they’re having difficulty getting the individual to join their organization. This might be due to a mismatch between the required skill and experience level and the pay and benefits package the employer is willing or able to offer.
  • Recruiting efforts may be too limited. Some organizations lack the recruiting reach to get their vacant positions advertised to a wide enough audience to find the skill set they require. This might be because of a lack of time or resources to get the message out there. Or it may be a lack of familiarity with newer social media types of recruiting.
  • People are less likely to be willing to relocate for a job. Mobility is limited by two specific difficulties:
    • Many people still cannot sell their homes for enough money to pay off their mortgages.
    • Many people are in dual-income families, meaning that both partners would need a job in the new location, thus hindering the ability to move. This can be overcome with remote work for some positions, but not for all. This means that companies may have a smaller (local) pool of candidates to choose from.
  • Training may be inadequate. Companies are offering less and less internal training and expecting employees to start work while already having much of the required skills. Contrast this to years past, when companies expected to be responsible for more of the training of employees. This change in mind-set means that employers have higher expectations than in the past, but education and technical training may not have kept up.
  • Education may not have kept pace. Going hand in hand with the last item, education may not have kept up with expectations. More and more jobs today require a higher level of education. In the past, the majority of available jobs only required a high school education, and training was offered on the job. Now, the majority of employers require training or skills beyond a high school education, and many require a college degree or other technical training of some type. Manufacturing roles, for example, often require more technical skills now than in years past. A related problem is the fact that fewer entry-level employees have even basic skills and abilities, such as timeliness, full literacy, and critical thinking skills to aid in problem solving.
  • Qualified candidates may give up because application processes are frustrating and lengthy. Many of today’s candidates expect applying to be a simple, quick, online process.
  • Employers may fail to entice candidates. Many employers focus the job posting solely on the employer needs, without including information on what’s in it for the new hire. This can lead to a dearth of qualified applicants finding the job desirable.
  • Recruiting technology may not be keeping up. The Millennial generation has been quick to adopt new technologies, but recruiting processes have not kept up. For example, only a small fraction of organizations even have an application process than can be accessed across any mobile device. This is a disconnect. If this group has some of the highest unemployment levels, working toward closing this gap could go a long way.


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