Why is everybody hiring but nobody’s getting hired? Blame the machines


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It seems like everybody is hiring but nobody is getting hired.

And you might be able to blame the machines for at least part of that.

That’s because some websites that are designed to make hiring easier by weeding people out might be making it more difficult by skipping past otherwise qualified applicants who might have left an important word or two off their application or resume.

“Larger American companies have really hollowed out their, what used to be called, human resources function,” said John Quinterno, an economist at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and an expert on labor markets.

More than 90 percent of major employers use some sort of automatic screening, according to a study by the Harvard Business School.

Those systems quickly scan for specific key words or qualifications, weeding out those who omit those words or are even overqualified.

“And as a result, without ever having human eyes on a resume or a person, do you want to end up throwing out or discarding a lot of people who could maybe actually be good fits?” Quinterno said.

He says some of those employers “don’t always really know what it is that they’re looking for, or what skills that they’re looking for, or they are essentially trying to automate all of these processes.”

What that does is leave a gap between those who need jobs and those who have openings to fill.

About 2.3 million Americans have been out of work for at least six months, meeting the U.S. Labor Department’s definition of long-term unemployment. Only during the Great Recession a decade ago and in the early 1980s has the U.S. had this many long-term unemployed, federal data show.

Yet here in central North Carolina, there are 0.7 job-seekers for every opening, according to the most recent monthly data for the region from the state Department of Commerce. It counted about 117,000 openings and just 87,000 seekers in August.

“There’s just a lot of churn going on right now,” Quinterno said. “And how do you make those good matches? And how do you get people to sort of be in the places where their skills or their talents can can fit?”

So, what’s the solution?

While it may be too far to go back to paper resumes, one key might be putting the “human” back in “human resources.”

“It’s like having a muscle that in many, many companies they don’t really know how to use anymore because they’ve allowed it to atrophy,” Quinterno said.

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