Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs | Peter Cappelli

Summary of: Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It
By: Peter Cappelli


In today’s competitive job market, it is commonly believed that a skills gap is the reason why many roles remain unfilled. However, Peter Cappelli’s ‘Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs’ debunks this myth, delving into the complexities of the job market and offering thought-provoking ideas to address the problem. The book explores subjects such as the role of HR departments, the disconnect between job requirements and hiring practices, the decline of employee training, and the importance of forming alliances between educational institutions and employers. Throughout the book, Cappelli emphasizes the need to adapt hiring processes, increase on-the-job training, and update expectations to improve the job market for employers and candidates alike.

Debunking the Skills Gap Myth

The idea that job vacancies remain unfilled due to a skills gap is a common misconception. The 2011 Manpower survey disproves this claim with data that shows a lack of skills shortage pattern, wage concerns, employers’ reluctance to provide training, and the unwillingness of workers to relocate. The same ten difficult-to-fill jobs have remained consistent since 2006, with laborers and office support staff only requiring high school education. Technicians and skilled laborers typically learn on the job while engineers, accountants, and IT professionals acquire the necessary skills through secondary education. Employers offering lower-than-market wages cannot blame it on a skills gap, and a lack of training opportunities further limits the pool of potential applicants. Additionally, many qualified workers are hesitant to relocate due to job insecurities and unfamiliarity with new communities. Therefore, it’s crucial to debunk this myth and focus on addressing the real issues.

The Misconception of the Skills Gap

The idea that there is a skills gap in America’s workforce is a myth. Public schools have improved over time, and workers are better prepared than ever before. Employers now demand more from job candidates, and academic skills rank low on lists of worker deficits. Employers often seek personal accountability, self-motivation, punctuality, time management, and a strong work ethic, which are not job qualifications. While many countries have surpassed the US in college degree percentages, American employers often do not assess whether all of their available jobs require a degree. Rapidly changing markets force workers to upgrade their skills to meet the needs of available work. The rise of the Chinese industrial economy has accelerated the US’s shift from manufacturing to service jobs, and high-skill jobs, such as computer programming, have moved offshore.

The Flaws in Hiring Process

The rise of the internet has changed the hiring process, making HR departments reliant on automated screening software. While the web has enabled easy access to job applications, it has also resulted in loss of human interaction during the hiring process. The software identifies possible candidates based on specific criteria stated in the design; however, the job descriptions sometimes omit qualifying criteria for fear of discrimination. Employers also claim that “character traits are critical to job success,” yet hiring focuses on prior experience and education. This flawed process seeks to guarantee a candidate’s success on the first day, making it impossible to fill many open positions.

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