The job market is weird.
I hear from employers that they are struggling to hire staff. Job ads bring in a fraction of the number of candidates, and those who do apply are generally unqualified, at least more so than in the past.
Meanwhile, prospective employees say it’s hard to find work and struggle to get hired.
There are many vacancies and many people are looking for work. But companies just don’t seem to find the right people, and applicants apply but are overshadowed by the companies they apply to. Tim Brackney, president and COO of the management consulting firm RGP, calls it the “Great Mismatch”.
The problem is particularly acute in IT and in IT specialties such as cybersecurity.
Even before the pandemic, IT suffered from a chronic skills shortage. Now, post-covid, the problem is becoming critical for many organizations.
How is this possible? What is happening?
Why is it hard to assume?
There are currently more than 11 million job openings in the United States. So why can’t companies fill them?
One of the reasons there are so many job openings in the first place is that companies struggle with employee retention. As a result, everyone is understaffed, including the hiring managers, who are often too busy to devote the right amount of time to hiring the best people.
In some industries, people have left the workforce – quit their job with no intention of getting a new one.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the employment rate to be 1.0 percentage point below the February 2020 level.
Also: U.S. unemployment is currently at its lowest point in 53 years. That means fewer people are looking for work.
During the pandemic, many workers came to the conclusion that they wanted better work-life balance, jobs, compensation and benefits.
That could lead many to apply for jobs for which they are not qualified, which may partly explain the difficulty of finding qualified candidates and the difficulty of overreaching applicants to get hired.
Why is it difficult to get hired?
Job seekers report that not only are they struggling to get hired, but employers aren’t even responding to their applications, cover letters, or resumes.
There are two main reasons why applicants struggle to get hired. One is that employees are picky. They want a new job to represent progress, not sideways movement. They want flexible time, remote work and higher salaries to keep up with inflation.
According to Spiceworks Ziff-Davis, more than a third of global IT workers will look for a new job this year. However, almost a quarter will not even apply if the job is not remote.
That means that non-remote jobs don’t get many applicants, and there are far too many remote jobs that pay well.
The second reason is, many companies rely too heavily on automated recruiting solutions.
These tools are great, but they’re no substitute for taking the time to really think about each potential candidate. Unfortunately, due to this over-reliance, many qualified candidates are overlooked as AI eliminates them based on false criteria.
I think the “Big Mismatch” is the result of too many changes in the workplace too quickly. And it will go away as everyone adjusts to the new normal.
You can now start customizing.
What employers must do
Spend much more time hiring, cast a much wider net, and consider candidates whose work experience may not exactly match.
Go ahead and use automated tools, but don’t rely too heavily on them. Instead, take the time to really consider a wide range of applicants and consider whether they might be a good match.
Focus on hiring better candidates, then focus on retaining employees.
Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Offer competitive salaries, flexible hours and remote working, and make your company a great place to work for as many as possible.
What employees must do
Take a long-term view of your career. Then don’t wait until you’re unemployed to start looking for your next gig.
It can take six months to a year to find the perfect position, so it’s best to start looking now.
Make sure your skills are up to date and transferable. And if not, get the training and certifications necessary to land the job you want.
Consider the hot jobs where there is a skills shortage and identify what you would be interested in and start training for those jobs.
Always be “networking” with colleagues in your field at trade events and other professional settings while still employed so that you may be considered when a job opens up.
Embrace “career dampening,” which means developing at least one sideline and building your income outside of your primary job.
The “Great Mismatch” can be overcome.
But only by thinking long term and spending much more time on the hiring or job search process.
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.