Today's Hardest-to-Fill Jobs

Rachel Zupek, CareerBuilder.com

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All of us are talented in our own ways - musically, academically, socially, and even physically. The question is, are you talented professionally?

According to a recent survey by recruitment firm Manpower Inc., the answer is no. The survey says 41 percent of U.S. employers are struggling to find qualified job candidates because of a lack of available talent. This is a slight dip from the 2006 study, when 44 percent of employers reported challenges filling open positions.

Sales representatives topped the list of hardest-to-fill jobs for the second straight year as companies depend on experienced sales staff to drive future growth. Teachers and mechanics replaced engineers and nurses/health care workers in the second and third-place positions this year.

Here is a list of the 10 hardest-to-fill jobs, based on lack of talent, as reported by U.S. employers to Manpower:

1. Sales Representative

2. Teacher

3. Mechanic

4. Technician

5. Management/Executive

6. Truck Driver

7. Driver/Delivery

8. Accountant

9. Laborer

10. Machine Operator

"With the variety of positions employers are struggling to fill, it seems like job seekers should have little trouble finding work," says Jonas Prising, president of Manpower North America. "Yet on a daily basis we hear from clients who can't find the right people for open positions and candidates who are struggling to get hired."

Now, that doesn't make sense. Why are job seekers struggling to find work if there are so many employers who need people?

"Skills just aren't matching the jobs," says Melanie Holmes, vice president of corporate affairs for Manpower North America. "People are still looking for work and employers are still filling jobs, but the skills are a mismatch."

With that in mind, what can individuals do to position themselves for careers amidst the talent crunch?

People need to recognize his or her current skill set may not be sufficient enough to carry them through the working world, Holmes says. Once individuals are aware of that, they need to be proactive in adapting to the changes.

"The world of work is changing, jobs are changing; things just change," Holmes says. "If we don't keep up, we'll be left behind, no doubt about it."

On the flip side, as employers face the difficulty of hiring the right people, what can they do to position themselves against the talent crunch? Holmes says many companies are changing their methods of hiring and retention.

"Employers are seeing more and more rejected job offers, creating a healthy competition as companies vie for top talent. As a result of this, employers are revising policies and enhancing benefits in areas as common as flexible scheduling to non-traditional offerings like take-home meals and onsite yoga classes," Holmes says. "We anticipate more and increasingly creative cultural changes as companies take the steps necessary to distinguish themselves in the eyes of employees."

With demographics in the workers' favor, they have the upper hand over employers - if they have the required skills.

"As people retire and birthrates don't keep up with don't keep up with the aging workforce, employers are the ones who will experience more shortages," Holmes says.

Holmes offers the following tips on how you can keep your skill set up to par.

  • Talk with professional recruiters.

  • Join a professional association and compare its expertise to what employers are seeking. This will help keep you ahead of what is going on in your area.

  • Don't leave out the employer - specifically ask your supervisor or manager if he or she anticipates changes on the horizon.

  • Seek out employers who believe in training.

  • Research what the community colleges and vocational schools offer.

  • Look at professional association workshops.

  • Watch for other training opportunities and seminars that might be in your community.



  • Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

    Last Updated: 22/02/2008 - 1:54 PM


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