Applying to Jobs but Not Hearing Back. Maybe they are no longer getting filled!

job postings, job advertisements,

When you come across job postings and eagerly apply but never hear back, it can be incredibly frustrating. This may raise the question: What is happening? Are people even getting hired for these posted jobs?

As a TA leader with over 35 years of experience managing hiring strategies for global companies, I’ve seen this happen frequently. I hope my insights below will help you understand the dynamics behind this and save you valuable time navigating the hiring process more effectively.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the various factors that contribute to job postings not leading to hires. In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the various factors that contribute to job postings not leading to hires.

Table of Contents

Common Reasons Companies Post Jobs but Don’t Hire

Compliance Reasons

What I have found often times is that companies had to post jobs to ensure they are compliant with various legal and regulatory standards, knowing full well that an internal candidate would likely fill the role.

Compliant jobs, employment compliance

For instance, government contractors are frequently required to post job openings to demonstrate equal employment opportunities, even if they have no intention of hiring externally. This ensures they adhere to affirmative action plans and other regulatory mandates.

Case Study: A tech company faced legal action for not adhering to federal compliance regulations regarding job postings. They were mandated to post all openings publicly, but their internal hiring processes were so efficient that external candidates were rarely considered.

Source: NPR article

Internal Candidates and Promotions

So the job is posted but another reason for job postings not resulting in hires is the preference for promoting internal candidates. Companies do post jobs, look at external candidates but often prioritize current employees for open positions due to their familiarity with the company culture and their proven track record. Internal promotions are also a way to reward and retain top talent.

Fact: According to a survey by LinkedIn, internal hires account for nearly 20% of all job fills. This means that a significant portion of job postings may already have a preferred internal candidate lined up before the position is advertised externally.

Source: LinkedIn Talent Solutions

Some companies even have an internal target of hiring a certain percentage of people from within the company for such roles.

Changes in Job Requirements

Companies frequently face evolving business needs, new project demands, changes in budget allocations, or organizational restructuring leading to changes in job requirements. A position that was initially posted might undergo alterations in terms of its grade, level, or role due to shifting priorities or strategic adjustments.

For example, a company might post a job for a mid-level marketing manager but later decide they need a senior-level strategist instead. Consequently, the original posting may remain active but unfilled as the company recalibrates its hiring strategy.

Companies I worked for, had to adjust job postings numerous times due to changing business needs. It’s a delicate balance to manage expectations both internally and externally during these shifts.


Hires Through Referrals or Networking

Internal referrals and networking plays a huge role in filling positions in the company. Many companies prefer to fill positions quickly and efficiently through employee referrals. So while they post the jobs, they may eventually hire these referred candidates as they come pre-vetted by current employees.

In some of the companies I worked in, more than 40% of the hires can from employee referrals.

According to a report by Jobvite and other sources such as CareerXroads, Staffing.org etc., referred candidates are 55% faster to hire and 25% more profitable than other hires. This preference for referrals can leave you as an external applicant at a disadvantage, as positions may already be informally filled before the job posting goes live.

Source: Jobvite Recruiting Benchmark Report


Budget Constraints and Hiring Freezes

In lot of companies I worked in, sudden budget constraints due to multiple factors including declining revenue and profit have resulted in hiring freezes, leaving job postings unfilled.

Table: Impact of Budget Constraints on Hiring

FactorDescription
Economic DownturnReduces available funds for hiring new employees
Financial SetbacksForces reallocation of resources to critical areas
Organizational Priorities ShiftRedirects budget from hiring to other strategic initiatives

In such cases, even though the job is posted, the actual hiring is postponed or canceled altogether due to the cost control measures in place.

Source: Harvard Business Review


Talent Pipeline Creation

Some companies use job postings to build a talent pipeline rather than to fill an immediate need. Internally these are called “Pipeline or Evergreen requisitions”. This strategy involves creating a pool of potential candidates for future roles, ensuring the company can quickly fill positions when the need arises. This is especially true for hard to find skillsets.

Example: A tech company might post a job for software developers even if they don’t have an immediate opening, to gauge the availability of talent and maintain a list of qualified candidates for future projects.

Fact: According to HR dive, building a talent pipeline is a top priority for 2024.

Source: HR dive


Waiting for the Perfect Candidate

Many companies keep waiting for the perfect candidate. This can lead to positions remaining unfilled for extended periods as hiring managers hold out for someone who meets every single criterion on their wish list. Consequently there is a strong possibility of they ignoring qualified candidates who may excel in those roles.


Lack of Disposition of Job Postings

A common issue I have found in companies is the lack of disposition of job postings. After hiring someone or deciding to cancel the requisition, some companies fail to update or remove the job posting. This may happen because of the recruiters being overloaded and/or not adhering to the process of candidate disposition and cancellation of job postings. Needless to say, this results in outdated listings that continue to attract applicants, causing confusion and frustration.

Statistic: A study by CareerBuilder found that 36% of employers have job postings that are not updated or removed promptly after a decision is made.

Source: CareerBuilder


Hiring Contractors Instead of Full-Time Employees

Sometimes, after advertising a job for a Full Time employee, companies may opt to hire contractors instead due to budget constraints, project-based needs, or strategic flexibility. This decision often leaves the original job posting unfilled as the company shifts its hiring strategy to a more temporary workforce solution. The decision is made based on the following factors:

Table: Full-Time Employee vs. Contractor Hiring

AspectFull-Time EmployeeContractor
CommitmentLong-termShort-term/project-based
BenefitsIncludes benefits (health, retirement, etc.)No benefits
FlexibilityLess flexible in role adjustmentsHighly flexible
CostHigher long-term costsPotentially lower short-term costs

Source: Forbes


Market Research and Competitive Intelligence

Some companies use job postings for market research and competitive intelligence. By advertising positions, they can gather data on salary expectations, skills availability, and competitor activities. These postings might not be intended to result in an actual hire but rather to gain insights into the job market.

Case Study: A startup in the tech industry frequently posted job openings to analyze the skill sets and salary expectations of candidates in their region, helping them adjust their business strategy accordingly.

Source: Inc. Magazine


The Hiring Process and Its Complexities

Lengthy Decision-Making Processes

The hiring process in some companies can be prolonged due to multiple interview rounds, extensive deliberations, and the need for approval from various stakeholders. Each step adds time, and sometimes positions remain open for months as companies strive to make the best possible hiring decision.

Statistic: According to Glassdoor, the average interview process in the United States takes 23.8 days, with some industries like government and finance taking even longer.

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research

Chart: Average Interview Duration by Industry

IndustryAverage Duration (Days)
Government53.8
Finance30.2
Technology24.4
Healthcare25.5
Retail16.9

The above is just the average interview time. When you start calculating the rest of the time taken in the hiring process from the time a position is posted, this adds up even more.  


Misalignment Between Departments

Misalignment and poor communication between hiring managers and HR can also stall the hiring process. Hiring managers may have specific expectations and requirements that HR departments are unaware of or unable to fulfill promptly.

Sometimes other stakeholder departments involved in the interview process start bringing up new demands from the role which may cause rewriting of the job description, reposting of the job and hunt for a different profile of candidate. This misalignment can lead to job postings being left open as departments struggle to synchronize their efforts and agree on the best course of action.

Quote: “Effective communication between HR and hiring managers is crucial for a smooth hiring process. Misalignment can lead to significant delays.

Source: SHRM


Conclusion

Understanding why jobs are posted but not filled requires a comprehensive look at the numerous factors involved. From compliance reasons and internal promotions to budget constraints and market research, companies have various reasons for posting jobs that they do not intend to fill immediately. By sharing these insights, I hope to shed light on the intricacies of the hiring process, helping job seekers navigate their job search more effectively.

For any further advice, please feel free to reach out to me.

FAQ Section

Q1: Why do companies post job openings if they don’t intend to hire? Companies may post job openings for various reasons, such as compliance with legal requirements, building a talent pipeline, or conducting market research. Sometimes, internal candidates or referrals fill the position, or budget constraints prevent hiring.

Q2: Why do internal candidates often get preference for job openings? Internal candidates are familiar with the company culture and have a proven track record, making them a lower-risk option. Promoting from within also boosts employee morale and retention.

Q3: How do budget constraints affect job postings? Budget constraints can lead to hiring freezes or cancellations of job requisitions. Even if a job is posted, financial issues may prevent the company from moving forward with the hiring process.

Q4: What is a talent pipeline, and why do companies build one? A talent pipeline is a pool of potential candidates that companies can draw from when positions become available. Building a pipeline ensures that companies can quickly fill roles with qualified candidates, reducing the time to hire.

Q5: Why do companies wait for the perfect candidate? Companies may hold out for a candidate who meets all their criteria to avoid making a costly hiring mistake. However, this can lead to positions remaining unfilled for extended periods.


About the author: Kaushik is an accomplished HR and Talent Acquisition executive and a Career Coach with more than 35 years of experience. During his career he has hired thousands of employees for global companies across skills, roles, levels and industries and has helped hundreds to land their dream jobs and careers. He has been a board member at multiple talent organizations across USA and is an accomplished speaker on career related topics. You can reach out to him directly at info@careerresumecoach.com for job search and career guidance. More information about him can be found at www.careerresumecoach.com or at www.linkedin.com/in/kaushiknag.

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