- The number of job openings has skyrocketed over the past year in the hot job market.
- But some job seekers are still on strike, especially as the economy faces headwinds.
- This could be because some companies post “ghost jobs” that they don’t actually hire for.
After applying for more than 300 jobs in the past six months without a single bite, Will no longer bothers to read job descriptions or research companies.
It’s just a waste of time at this point, said Will, whose real name is undisclosed but known to Insider.
He spends six to 10 hours a day on LinkedIn churning out applications, but says he and his peers with similar degrees — master’s degrees and MBAs from top schools — don’t have any luck getting interviews.
“I see all these articles about how companies can’t hire fast enough and how there are all these job openings,” said Will, who is aiming to land a consulting role. “But I also see my own personal experience and I see other highly qualified candidates who can’t get interviews or can’t get jobs and I’m like, ‘Something’s wrong with the system. “”
It’s a headache in this remarkably tight labor market. While many employers fail to find enough workers, some qualified applicants apply for open positions and hear nothing in return.
That candidates are, on occasion, ghosted by employers is of course nothing new. But lately, questions have been raised about whether a company’s job postings reflect real vacancies, or rather “ghost jobs” – listings for which employers no longer actively hire or recruit. .
According to a recent survey of approximately 1,000 hiring managers conducted by Clarify Capital, a loan company, 40% of managers have had a job offer open for more than two to three months; one in five managers said they do not plan to fill their current vacancies until 2023; and half of managers said they maintained job postings because they were “always open to new people”, even if they weren’t actively recruiting.
“We have over 150 million people working in the US economy,” Kathryn Edwards, an economist at the RAND Corporation, told Insider of the big resignation. “Anything that can be true is true for at least one person. Having that many workers means you can have two true stories that are in absolute conflict, and it makes perfect sense that they’re both in our market. work.”
Some researchers say “job vacancies” might mean something different today and that companies regularly adapt to the forces of the economy and their industries by increasing and decreasing the intensity with which they recruit. . Others, meanwhile, have speculated that companies are now posting jobs but not trying to fill them, perhaps due to uncertainties about the economy. But at a time when many workers are still quitting their jobs at high rates, encouraged by the apparent strength of the labor market, the phenomenon of ghost jobs underscores the idea that employers still have the upper hand.
“Evergreen” posts in an uncertain environment
There are many reasons why companies may advertise vacancies with seemingly little urgency to fill them, recruiters say. Sometimes they want to give the impression that the company is growing, but in an inflationary economy, growth is expensive, so they hedge.
Sometimes they leave lists open with dreams that the perfect unicorn candidate might apply for. Other times, they may post job offers to appease their exhausted employees and demonstrate that they are indeed at least trying to hire more help.
There are also jobs that are in such high demand – think mobile developers and software engineers – that employers might leave vacancies in the hope that someone, anyone, will apply.
Allyn Bailey, a former head of recruiting strategy at Intel and now the director of Smart Recruiters, a talent search and hiring platform, said companies are more often posting “permanent job openings” – lists of jobs that, in theory, they still need even if they don’t have the budget to hire. “That way they have a pipeline to tap into when they’re ready,” she said.
Of course, the candidates don’t know that. They apply in good faith, unaware of this strategy, and when the company finally calls them, she says, “the talent isn’t interested, has moved on, or is bored.”
Some recruiters say ghost jobs are on the rise due to the heightened level of uncertainty that has persisted for two and a half years. With the ongoing labor shortage and high turnover, they can no longer accurately predict candidate behavior and flow. This, combined with a slowing economy, created a climate of hesitation.
“The companies I talk to are struggling to understand how they think about how to do strategic work because the contours of their business are changing rapidly,” said Pat Pettiti, CEO of Catalant, the online platform that highlights relationship of independent consultants for projects in large companies. .
“They don’t understand who or what they need – so they hesitate when it comes to hiring.”
Moreover, fears of an impending recession made them hesitant to commit. “That’s why some managers say to themselves, ‘My boss told me to hire someone, but am I going to have to fire them in three months?'”
William Stonehouse, president of Crawford Thomas Recruiting, the Orlando recruiting firm that connects job seekers with Fortune 1000 companies, said he often coaches employers on the dangers of posting ghost jobs.
“A lot of companies don’t understand the impact a negative hiring process can have on future applicants,” he said. “If your listings are a graveyard of old positions and candidates are uploading applications into a resume black hole, that doesn’t set the right tone. People want to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“There are too many job offers posted”
Andrew Flowers, labor economist at Appcast, the recruitment advertising technology company, expressed skepticism that “ghost jobs” are a widespread problem. “Some employers are definitely fishing — they have a job offer, but don’t plan to hire — but I think that’s a small minority of employers,” he said in an email interview with Insider.
Flowers pointed out that the overall job fill rate, the ratio of hires to openings each month, remains very low, reflecting the tight labor market. Meanwhile, other economic research shows that recruitment intensity matters less for the job search and matching process than factors such as candidate skills and quality and the macroeconomic environment.
“It seems plausible that the vacancies figures are overestimating the number of active recruitments taking place, and possibly more so than in the past,” he said. “But it’s also very clear that there are a lot of openings right now.”
When employers started complaining about a labor shortage, Erica Groshen, senior economics adviser at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was a little wary of the high number of job offers. But as she watched wages rise and job changes soar, she was won over by the phenomenon of real hiring.
Even so, “the advent of the internet means it’s much easier to apply for jobs,” Groshen told Insider.
“You can apply for so many more jobs, which means companies have to sort through so many applications — so many more than before — which means they use algorithms to do that sorting,” Groshen said. “These algorithms are going to be pretty crude.”
The number of openings and the ease of application are cold comfort to Will, who continues to search for a job unsuccessfully day after day. For job seekers like him, who arrive with specific degrees and qualifications, the reality may be to ditch those shadow jobs altogether and seek out lesser matches. After all, about a third of college graduates are underemployed, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, meaning they work in jobs that don’t typically require a degree.
That’s because, even though workers are in a hot job market, they still don’t have the upper hand when it comes to work. Because workers in the United States ultimately need a job to eat, pay for housing, and have health insurance, employers have what’s called monopsony power, which allows them to dictate wages. , working conditions and schedules – and it allows them to post jobs they could never fill or accidentally screen out the right candidates.
“There are too many jobs posted,” he said. And the “websites – some of them are just broken and some of them just don’t work. It’s almost comical.”