Employers' reluctance to advertise is partly tied to the economy. Despite fluctuations, unemployment numbers remain relatively low in the
. With the vast majority of the adult population employed, employers assume not many prospective workers will be scanning the want ads and postings. With a limited audience for their ads, employers are disinclined to spend money on advertising for workers. United States
The second reason is more psychological. The people who read want ads are looking for jobs. While it might seem that an employer offering jobs and people looking for jobs are a perfect match, that's not often the case in the employer's mind. The employer has to wonder, Why is this person looking for a job? The answer that pops into the employer's head, whether fairly or not, is probably not a positive one. People look for jobs, many employers believe, because they are unhappy losers, job-hoppers, or unproductive malcontents who blame poor performance on their employers and believe switching jobs will solve their problems. Employers would rather go after people called "passive candidates" who aren't necessarily looking for work. In the employer's mind, those people will be successful, productive contributors to the company's bottom line.
Employers also know that the best candidates are likely to be those referred to them through word of mouth. It is only when employers are truly desperate to fill an opening that they place an ad.
Further, busy employers simply don't have the time to go through the mountains of resumes an ad is likely to produce, especially an Internet ad, which can draw thousands of responses because of the relative ease of responding to such an ad. Employers often find it far more efficient to ask their employees and other members of their personal networks to refer high-quality candidates to them.
Finally, the process of defining job vacancies can take a long time. In some companies, a year or more can elapse between initial conceptualization of a job and actually filling the position. Thus, at any given time, theoretical positions may exist within an organization, but the formal mechanisms of funding, structuring, and writing a job description for the position mean that the job cannot yet be advertised. That's another reason networking is so valuable. If you can tap into a job in its embryonic stages, you will have a huge advantage over those who wait to answer ads. Let's say Megabucks Corporation is planning a position that you're well qualified for, but the firm is six months away from advertising the job. You don't know about the position, but your networking efforts lead you to a key person, Joe Honcho, at Megabucks. After talking with you, Honcho attends a meeting and tells his colleagues, "Hey, I just met someone who would be great for that position we're working on." The management team may even decide to reshape the job to fit your unique qualifications. With his team's blessing, Honcho gets you in for a series of interviews. Megabucks still may not be able to hire you until all the t's are crossed and the i's dotted, but once the job is official, you are in all before Megabucks even had the chance to advertise the position.