Cracking the Employment Code: The Puzzling Job Search Dilemma Amidst Low Unemployment

Vargas, a special education instructor, has been stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of interviews for three teaching jobs for several months. The hiring process has dragged on for so long that she has questioned whether the job positions are even real.

In one instance, Vargas waited three months after an interview before she decided to take matters into her own hands. “So I call them and I’m like, ‘Do you need someone for this year for this position?'” Vargas, 55, told Business Insider. “It was ridiculous.” Vargas, who resides in Middletown, New York, is not the only one feeling frustrated. Despite the US unemployment rate being near its lowest level in decades, employers are taking longer to hire, and some are posting fewer jobs than before. This has made job searches more challenging.

According to Daniel Zhao, a lead economist at Glassdoor, US employers are extending job offers at the lowest level since 2014. This slow hiring is reminiscent of the period a decade ago when the US was still recovering from the global financial crisis.

Employers are hesitant to hire due to concerns about the economy, and hiring is unlikely to bounce back sustainably until managers are confident that inflation is under control and the Federal Reserve can roll back interest rates. In 2023, employers’ hiring rate fell sharply, and workers are quitting less, meaning fewer people are moving around. The time it takes to bring on a worker has risen, and the average is continuing to climb.

The hiring hesitation or difficulty in finding the workers companies need can result in prolonged job searches, with candidates having to endure multiple rounds of interviews. For example, Royal Siu, a pharmacist from Seattle, has applied to about 300 jobs and is finding it harder to land interviews than in previous job searches. Kevin Cash, a 42-year-old Navy veteran with an MBA, has applied to more than 1,200 jobs and has mostly been ghosted.

Mentions of “ghosting” were up 13% in January from a year earlier on interview reviews on Glassdoor, the company said. The sluggish job market is nothing new for some workers, like Jeff Calnan, who had a nine-month job search before landing a full-time job with the US Air Force.

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