2 Reasons Why You Can’t Fill Your Open Positions

Have you been trying to fill job vacancies in your startup company for months on end? If so, check out our new blog post for our insights.

The Hire Breakthrough NEWSLETTER

Lately, startup founders have told me: “I can’t seem to find any candidates for my open positions.” 

It’s the one question I hear most often, but it comes in various forms:

  • I’ve been trying to hire for this role for the past 6 months and I can’t find anyone.
  • People don’t want to work, which is why I can’t hire anyone!
  • Why can’t I seem to find any talent?

According to NGP Capital, there were over 9,000 open positions across startups and ventures as of March 2023. This number is steadily increasing month after month. So what’s really the issue?

1. You have Unrealistic Expectations

I can’t explain how many job descriptions I come across that look like whomever wrote it, just threw words at the screen. This screams: I’m BURNED OUT! We’re BURNED OUT! Don’t work here! 

The current unemployment rate has hit a low of 3.5% yet hiring managers complain they can’t find talent. Why do you think that is? It’s because candidates are becoming more and more selective about the companies and jobs they seek out because what they truly want is longevity and good work/life balance. And, if your job description uses phrases and words like, “family atmosphere”, “dedicated”, “fast-paced environment”, “multi-tasker” and “unicorn”, it’s no wonder you can’t find qualified candidates. Those are all huge red flags for A players.


It’s not a secret, inflation has reached an all-time high – which, of course, means a higher cost of living. You know what some companies try to do to “get around” this? They’ll try to hire from specific states where they think the cost of living is less. 

Well, guess what? The cost of living is high everywhere.

Candidates aren't looking to make $15 per hour or under $50,000 annually. They’re looking for roles that allow them to take care of themselves and their families. And, if your company can’t do that, then you need to examine your company’s business model or pricing structure.

Required Experience

If I see one more job that is paying under $50,000 annually requiring a bachelor's or master's degree, I'm going to scream. Literally.

Let's put this into perspective for a bit…

How much does it cost to get a bachelor's degree in 2023?

Hanson, Melanie. “Average Cost of College & Tuition” EducationData.org, June 25, 2023, https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-college

On average, it'll cost roughly $26,000-$54,000 annually for a bachelor's degree without including student loan interest.

I'm sure this information just hurt someone's feelings, but the numbers don't lie.

Don't ask for a degree just because you can. The better approach is to determine if a degree is required for a candidate to be successful in the role or if one is required to help your startup get to profitability.

When determining the salary for a position, you have to consider the cost of living, the cost of the degree, inflation, etc. Get intentional!

Unconscious Bias

Recently, a founder expressed they were having difficulty finding an experienced person for their open position. I happened to know someone who may have been an ideal fit and so my team forwarded their resume to the founder.

Here is where things get a bit interesting…

The founder replied saying they didn't think this person would be a fit because the last position they had was a junior role vs a senior role. Really???

This particular candidate had over 15 years of industry experience and held a number of senior positions over the course of their career. They also had a degree and worked at a number of prestigious companies.

So why couldn’t this founder see this candidate’s potential?

It’s a problem I see far too often. Unconscious Bias.

LinkedIn - https://www.lever.co/blog/diversity-data/
LinkedIn – https://www.lever.co/blog/diversity-data/

To assume that candidate wouldn't be ideal in a position solely because their most recent position is at a junior level is really preposterous.

This generalization cannot be made solely based on a resume because you have yet to see a portfolio, have a phone conversation, or even a brief interview.

Furthermore, you don't know this person's circumstances. They could've taken a break from work, had personal responsibilities they had to attend to or the title could have been junior but their workload and performance were senior-level. Think about how often companies have their junior team members doing the work of two or three other people. 

You literally don't know the reason so why make assumptions?

Instead of jumping to conclusions, follow up and get the necessary information you need to make an informed decision. And, by “follow up”, I mean actually conduct an interview, review a portfolio or have a quick phone conversation. 

This is why having an actual hiring process will help you, as a resume is a very small piece of the picture, and if all you’re doing is relying on resumes to give you the full picture, it will never happen and you’ll always find yourself on the struggling side of the talent wars. 

And…if you're reading this saying, “I don't have the time to do this!” Then it's more than past time you invest in quality hiring support.

2. You are relying solely on your Network

Now aside from some of the reasons I listed above to address hiring challenges, my other main question is, “What strategies have you tried?”

Usually, the response is something along the lines of, “I shared the role with people on my email list and on LinkedIn.”

This is not a recruitment strategy.

This approach will ensure your job opening lands among a sea of overcrowded, oversaturated job posts – because everyone else is doing the same thing, too. 

Yes, these methods can certainly help your hiring process, but it's not a strategy.

Just posting on LinkedIn is like wanting to hit the hiring lottery – lightning strike or poker odds are higher.

Competitive Landscape

Everyone in every industry is having a difficult time finding quality talent, which is why relying solely on your network actually increases the time it takes you to find and hire ideal candidates. You’re actually hurting yourself when you do this.

Your recruitment strategy must include internal and external strategies like referral bonuses, paid job boards, and enlisting the support of an external recruiter.

The point is your strategy needs to include a number of methods uniquely suited for your company and roles – not just one.

If you’re sick of waiting for the right people to “come along” and if your startup’s growth is suffering because you’ve found yourself trapped in a pool of founders who keep passing the same resumes back and forth, get off the treadmill and contact us and ask for your Foolproof Hiring Strategy Outline. You’ll be glad you did. 

Hire Breakthrough™ specializes in taking the breakdown out of your hiring breakthrough for business owners, startups, and corporations. In addition to providing recruitment services and consulting services tailored specifically to each client’s needs, we also offer programs and training on how to start your own successful 6-figure recruitment agency.

What are your thoughts? Join me in the comments below.

Connect With Us

If this blog post was helpful, join 4,000+ people who get recruitment and HR tips every week.

Leave a Comment