Wharton Professor: Employers Want Top Skills At Low Wages And That's Why You Don't Have A Job

From the Economic Populist, this piece explains how automated software is screening qualified people out of the job application process. While Mr. Cappelli is saying that companies are short-staffed and using software because of the overwhelming

From the Economic Populist, this piece explains how automated software is screening qualified people out of the job application process. While Mr. Cappelli is saying that companies are short-staffed and using software because of the overwhelming volume of applications, the real problem is that employers are demanding unrealistic qualifications and then blaming the applicant pool and the schools for the fact that they're not offering enough of a salary to attract the high skill level they want.

This isn't specific to this recession. When I was a recruiter, I saw employers turn into petty tyrants after 9/11, demanding absurd combinations of skill sets at lower wages because they were convinced they had the upper hand. Now, large corporations are using the inability to get qualified workers at slave wages as an excuse to bring in lower-paid workers from other countries. Progress!

Finally someone speaks the truth about U.S. employers claiming they just can't find people for job openings. Wharton Business School Professor Peter Cappelli has analyzed why employers dare to claim they cannot find people to hire when the United States has over 27 million people needing a job.

There is no skills shortage, none. In fact employers are being absolutely ridiculous in their hiring practices. It's so bad, employers use software and third party rejection job application websites, which pretty much guarantee a candidate will be rejected. These websites and software are like virtual wastebaskets for your resume. No human involved, it's automatic, guaranteed rejection. It's so bad, an HR executive applied for his own job and was rejected.

A Philadelphia-area human-resources executive told Mr. Cappelli that he applied anonymously for a job in his own company as an experiment. He didn't make it through the screening process.

Another factor that contributes to the perception of a skills gap is that most employers now use software to handle job applications, adding rigidity to the process that screens out all but the theoretically perfect candidate. Most systems, for example, now ask potential applicants what wage they are seeking — and toss out those who put down a figure higher than the employer wants. That’s hardly a skill problem. Meanwhile, applicants are typically assessed almost entirely on prior experience and credentials, and a failure to meet any one of the requirements leads to elimination. One manager told me that in his company 25,000 applicants had applied for a standard engineering job, yet none were rated as qualified.

Watch the above interview with Professor Cappelli on the real problem with employers these days. It is not that people are lacking skills, it is employers have impossible requirements.

We've written about this many times, so it's thrilling to see a Wharton School Professor amplify the insanity.

A 2011 Accenture survey found that only 21% of U.S. employees had received any employer-provided formal training in the past five years.

This is so obvious it hurts. If employers really wanted people, they would train them. That's what employers did right up until the 1980's or so. By 2000, companies wanted instant ready disposable workers.

Cappelli is hitting the press. The truth is employers do not want to hire U.S. workers, Americans. In some cases employers do not want to hire anyone at all, they think it's cheaper to leave positions unfilled!   Hopefully this time some employers will wake up, realize to grow a business, one needs people. Maybe some will actually train some people.

The challenge will be getting top leaders of organizations to admit they are a big part of the problem, and to change their ways. Software can be coded so it is less restrictive. Leaders could pay higher market wages where necessary. And they could make more investments in training. That costs money, to be sure, but so does leaving jobs open that could be of significant value to the company (not to mention the economy at large).

Judging from employers’ initial reaction, however, that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. After writing the initial Wall Street Journal story, Cappelli heard from a few corporate leaders who told him there was really nothing they could do. He suggested he’d come out and take a close look at what they’re doing. “Nobody ever takes me up on that,” he says. “That usually shuts things up pretty quickly.”

About Susie Madrak

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.