Why do many jobs describe automation but then require extensive manual testing?
The question somewhat stems from frustration after seeing recent trends in software testing jobs:
In Job Description, automation skills are given utmost priority. All the interview rounds will be based to assess your coding skills and knowledge of Selenium, Appium and other automation tools. But once you are hired, a lot of job portion will involve manual testing given the urgency of releases in Agile teams. Automation is just something which testers perform whenever they have free time which is very little. Companies do like the term Automation but generally have poor knowledge of proper strategy and unrealistic expectations from it and hence(from where I see it), it gradually becomes the least priority.
Automation Tester profile was considered a very good option for people who like coding and as an alternate to a developer profile. There was a time where most of the companies hired dedicated automation developers but that trend has stopped may be due to low ROI or failed automation strategies. Many professionals jumped into this profession due to the boom since last 4 years but now they are having very limited options for the kind of work they want to do or being told to during hiring. Result is testers are hired saying that their primary focus will be to automate the regression suite and other repetitive work but within few months are asked to mostly manual. Now, of course, manual testing is a great job but why is there a sudden drastic decrease in demand for automation testers?
The ideal job as per the "job description" for most companies for "Automation QA Engineer/SDET" profile would be somewhere around 80% automation with some manual tasks as per needed but the actual scenario is totally opposite. Many automation testers who are passionate about automation are left with frustration of doing something they were not hired for. Are pure (or 80%) automation jobs dying? What is the reason? What is the future of automation testers? Is this trend specific to companies?
Following the Skeptics SE guidelines I would expect a question like yours to be accompanied by sources, otherwise it's just a collection of anecdotes.
To answer your question my own experience and knowledge is the opposite, more and more companies are moving to Modern Testing or some forms of Combined Engineering where testing and quality are owned by the entire team.
In those teams testers are acting as specialists helping the team achieving their goals for example by kicking off automation framework and teaching the team to use them or coaching others (i.e. developers) how to design and perform better manual tests.
If anything an automation engineer is an expensive option for doing manual testing on a permanent basis, but reality is stronger than any theory and sometimes under pressure companies will use the available resources at hand to solve the immediate problem using resources inefficiently.
Is it possible that you simply had "bad luck" filling positions the ended up as being"abused" under pressure?