To combat unfilled jobs, let's communicate on "job image".

"It's enough to make you lose your marbles", "we're walking on our heads!"... these are the reactions people might have when faced with studies announcing the vacancy of over a hundred thousand jobs.
Béatrice Siadou-Martin, University of Lorraine; Fanny Poujol, University of Montpellier and Franck Gavoille, ESSCA School of Management

Between 2012 and 2022, 587,000 sales jobs could be available in France.
David McEachan/Pexels

How can we explain the fact that these jobs remain unfilled at a time of historically high unemployment? (around 10%) is observed?
For everyone, this situation appears "absurd but recurrent". And yet, this observation is made every year for a wide range of professions: healthcare, accounting, engineering, sales...
The Tendance Emploi Compétence (TEC) observatory reveals two facts. On the one hand, a third of recruitment projects will encounter difficulties that could lead to the failure of their process, and thus leave jobs vacant. On the other hand, employers explain this situation by the shortage of candidates, or the unsuitability of profiles or working conditions.
To explain this apparent paradox, a number of academic studies have focused on the issue, providing interesting food for thought. The concept of "employer brand.

Beyond the "employer brand", a lack of representation of the profession...

Employer branding is a key issue for companies seeking to attract and retain talent. It enables a company to promote and communicate the work experience it can offer its current and potential employees. In this way, it positions itself as an employer "to choose".
And the efforts made by French companies are clearly appreciated. In the latest Universum ranking of preferred companies by future graduates of the grandes écoles, French companies are making headway.
But is it enough? The latest economic news highlights the difficulties faced by the PSA Group which, despite its popularity and the positive image of its commercial brands (Peugeot and Citroën) with the French, is having trouble recruiting temporary staff for its Sochaux plant. So, being a well-known employer doesn't seem to be enough to attract candidates; we need to go beyond the employer brand alone.
Perhaps a reflection on the job offers some answers. Franck Gavoille, a lecturer and researcher in human resources management, suggests defining the job image as :

"a global representation of the job in an individual's mind. It corresponds to the set of mental representations [...] formed following an individual's exposure to different stimuli [...]. The individual refers to it when he or she has to determine his or her behavior with regard to a trade".

In other words, the individual forms his or her idea of a job from all the information available on the subject.
Without going into too much detail about the different dimensions of the job, we can quickly name them. We're talking about contributions ("what does the job require of me?"). (i.e. reconciliation with private life, risks taken, stress, etc.); rewards ("what does the job offer me?" (remuneration, professional fulfillment, career development, etc.); the responsibilities generated by the job; and its relational dimension ("what kind of human contact does this job require or allow?").

From "job image" to career choice...

The sales profession is often cited as a jobs in short supply. There is a significant and constant need for people in this sector (around 100,000 recruitment projects per year in recent years), and prospective studies do not contradict this trend.
According to the report "quels métiers en 2022?France Stratégie and Dares estimate that 587,000 jobs will need to be filled in France between 2012 and 2022 for all sales professions combined.
Against this backdrop, it seems worthwhile to study the image that students enrolled in the course have of the sales profession. Our academic study of 88 Master 2 students revealed three important findings.
First of all, when asked the question "What does a salesperson mean to you?", students spontaneously evoke the remuneration, responsibilities and relational dimension of the profession. Human contacts and relationships seem to be at the heart of their representation and choice of profession.
Surprisingly, the students don't mention the contributions expected of them in this profession. This raises the question of when these contributions are formed (do they emerge only after one or more concrete experiences?), as well as the tools and devices used to communicate about the profession. An analysis of the trade press suggests that this dimension is less present in the discourse.
Communication about sales professions should therefore be improved, because the better known a profession is, the more favorable its assessment. This is also a lever for action in the fight against negative stereotypes. Asking questions about the job (of salesperson) as well as the company's job can be a way of better understanding them.
The ConversationThis could make it possible to offer vacancies and applications that better correspond to the reality of the job and its environment. And perhaps, in this way, reduce the number of unfilled jobs, which are also the result of a mismatch in profiles.
Béatrice Siadou-MartinUniversity Professor in Management Sciences, University of Lorraine; Fanny PoujolSenior Lecturer - HDR, University of Montpellier and Franck GavoilleProfessor of Human Resources Management, ESSCA School of Management
Visit original version of this article was published on The Conversation.