The number of people applying for unemployment benefits is at the highest level it’s been in three months. But these figures hold a puzzle because our data shows that companies have lots of open positions and they are having a hard time filling them. Last month Bullhorn processed 100,000 open job requests. Of those, only 30 percent of positions were filled. And we’re not the only one’s seeing this. The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms the gap is real. So, if there are jobs available and plenty of people looking for work, what’s the hold up?
“Jobs” is the topic du jour as we jump into the presidential election. We don’t have the answer, but we’re thinking about this strange problem and hope you will too.
Part of the issue is related to skills. It can be hard to find great software engineers familiar with all of the latest Web development tools and approaches a company might need. And sometimes it is geography. Not everyone can pack up and move to take a great job if they can’t get out from under their mortgage. On the employer side, the floodgates for new employees certainly aren’t wide open, so they may be taking their time to find the perfect candidate instead of the one who’s good enough.
But the search for that perfect candidate brings up another, more recently important factor, something we refer to as “cultural fit.”
Just this week there have been a number of articles about the importance of finding good people who also fit the culture of the work environment you want to build. Fast Company reported that great companies like Google, Apple, and Nike are focused on “hiring great people” rather than hiring on expertise alone. And they’ll keep looking if a candidate has all the skills but might not be a great fit. An article in Eye on Sales reminded us that a tough economy provides an excellent opportunity to focus on maximizing the efficiency of your organization. And nothing is less efficient than wasting time and money training a new employee who doesn’t work out after a couple of months.
Instead of rushing to fill the thousands of open positions out there, perhaps employers are adding a new “fit” filter to the hiring process and slowing things down. This might be putting additional drag on the employment numbers and be painful for job seekers in the short-term. But incorporating fit into hiring decisions will be a good thing in the long run by reducing the enormous costs of poor hires for both companies and individuals.