Do Job Postings Really Equal Demand for Talent?

September 14, 2021
Author: ThinkWhy Staff

Do online job postings provide what you need to know to understand local competitive demand for people that fit a specific role? At one point that made sense. However, it’s never been more important for talent acquisition professionals to make recruiting and hiring decisions based on accurate, verifiable data.

The number of job postings do not determine the available talent supply or demand for a role.

Unfortunately, too many talent pros often depend on data that’s crowdsourced and unvetted. Basing important decisions on misinformation winds up costing their organizations time, money and talent. For example, the use of job postings is not a good indicator of demand in the labor market and can actually be misleading.

Job postings are advertisements created by an employer or recruiter about an immediate or future job opening. Postings can include both internal (within the organization itself) and external postings and may appear in venues ranging from the company bulletin board or website to social-networking sites like LinkedIn and online job boards, such as Monster and Glassdoor.

Job boards tout the “timeliness” of such postings as a window into the latest labor market conditions. Prior to 2020, even the prestigious Conference Board boasted a Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Index that was based solely on online job ads over time. The Conference Board, a not-for-profit business membership and research group, had partnered with Burning Glass Technologies, an analytics software company, to compile the Index.

However, critics say there are multiple drawbacks to relying on job postings as a barometer of the labor market. For one thing, such postings are derived from private entities with proprietary interests that are unevenly monitored and minimally regulated. Their sources and methods of data-gathering are often closely guarded, resulting in little to no transparency.

Posting Jobs That Don’t Really Exist

What’s more, not every open position gets posted, some jobs stay “open forever” to stack candidate benches, and there’s no guarantee the jobs that do get posted aren’t duplicates – or even fake. A 2019 article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) outlined some of these problems and advised employers to take down ads quickly once jobs are filled.

“It costs nothing to post job openings on a company website, which are then scooped up by Indeed and other online companies and pushed out to potential job seekers around the world,” the HBR article explained. “Thus, it may be unsurprising that some of these jobs don’t really exist. Employers may simply be fishing for candidates. (‘Let’s see if someone really great is out there, and if so, we’ll create a position for him or her.’) Often job ads stay up even after positions have been filled, to keep collecting candidates for future vacancies or just because it takes more effort to pull the ad down than to leave it up.

“Sometimes ads are posted by unscrupulous recruiters looking for resumes to pitch to clients elsewhere,” the article goes on. “Because these phantom jobs make the labor market look tighter than it really is, it creates a problem for economic policy makers, as well as frustrated job seekers.”


A Better Measure

Such problems are preventable because there are other sources of talent and job market intelligence that are far more reliable than job postings.

For example, LaborIQ® uses a proprietary ATILA™ Technology, using expert curation of 18 trillion data points that are validated against 8.6 million company pay stubs twice monthly, to provide real-time, market-driven compensation answers.

LaborIQ’s method combines machine intelligence with data from state and national employment surveys on wage growth, weekly unemployment changes, economic performance, job openings, hirings, separations and occupational supply and demand for all U.S. industries and metros.

This multi-tiered data intake process and processing enables LaborIQ to verify and deliver precise recommended and forecasted salaries and talent supply by location, ensuring accuracy for all job levels and specialties.

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