Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs (Updated)


 I finished Peter Cappelli’s book on Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It, wonderful read.  Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor professor of management at the Wharton School.

Professor Cappelli points to evidence that technology could be screening out qualified applicants.  On the flip side, employers are flooded with applicants so it’s natural that they would make use of technology to help them out.

 The implementation of this technology on the heels of downsizing of Human Resource organizations (reduction-in-force or outsourcing) means you don’t have human eyes to scan the applications. 

Moreover, you also don’t have staffing managers who are able to review the job requirements & potentially push back on hiring managers who are inadvertently creating purple squirrel candidates.

 Professor Cappelli points out key areas for employers to look at; I’ve paraphrased them below:

  • Review job descriptions—they may be inflated—do you really need a PhD to perform the task? …probably not
  • Pay attention to the hiring process; revisit the design of the automated systems to insure that it is not screening out qualified candidates—as discussed earlier
  • Revisit your strategy on the downsizing of the Human Resources function
  • Revisit your compensation model—relative to skills and marketplace—be competitive


A training gap not a skills gap

Professor Cappelli makes an important call out: the “gutting out” of human resource organizations introduced several gaps, one of which is training. 

In 2011, the global management-consulting firm Accenture surveyed US employees and found that only 21 percent had received any employer-provided formal training in the past five years.  Eighty percent of the workforce is doing jobs without recent training.  First, as a leadership/learning & development professional that of course hurts my heart; second, evidence points to the skills issue being more of a training gap vs. the skills gaps being voiced by employers.



Another key call and hurdle for candidates to overcome is the online application process where they are asked to provide the wages they want. To quote Cappelli “If you guess too high, you get kicked out of the automated screening process, even though you might be open to a lower wage.” 

This is a powerful book and easy read—less than 100 pages that is definitely worth your time.  In addition, we’ve uploaded an NPR interview from Professor Cappelli, so take-a-listen ==> PeterCappelli – Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs  - Enjoy your development!


Updated…Checkout this new NPR report…help where you can!

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