SHRM Survey: Many Jobs Requiring New Skills, Creating Recruiting Difficulty for Employers

Manufacturing, high tech, scientific and health care industries most affected; more organizations turning to military veterans to fill jobs

Oct 29, 2014
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ALEXANDRIA, Va.— Many employers with jobs to fill are requiring new skills, and a majority of them report difficulty recruiting for these positions, a new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows.

SHRM’s 2014 Economic Conditions Survey — Overall Financial Health and Hiring, is the latest in a series of survey reports measuring the impact of the U.S. and global recession that began in 2007. SHRM also released the Global Competition and Hiring Strategies and Recruiting and Skills Gaps reports today.

Almost all respondents (96 percent) in the Overall Financial Health and Hiring survey said their organizations hired full-time employees in the past 12 months. Of them, about one-half (48 percent) said new skills were required for the positions, citing growth of their organization, changing technology and new products as the top reasons. Two-thirds (66 percent) reported it was somewhat or very difficult to recruit for positions that require new skills, an increase from 63 percent in 2012 and 2011.

“Eighty percent of respondents to this survey reported that their organization is in either excellent or good financial health, an extremely positive indicator for the economy’s expansion,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs. “It is important to note that, despite recent job gains, millions of positions are still going unfilled and, consequently, impeding the growth of some employers.”

Overall, 50 percent of respondents reported having difficulty recruiting for open positions. Esen noted, “It is clear that many jobs are not being filled due to a skills mismatch between job seekers and open positions.”

Recruiting difficulty was mentioned most frequently in manufacturing, where 60 percent of respondents cited the problem. Following closely behind manufacturing were high tech; professional, scientific and technical; and health care and social assistance industries.

The top reasons organizations have experienced difficulty in hiring for full-time regular positions were that candidates lack the needed work experience (50 percent) and the right technical skills (50 percent), as well as competition from other employers (50 percent). Forty-three percent cited a small number of applicants as a reason.

In the high-tech industry, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of organizations said candidates did not have the right technical skills and almost two-thirds (64 percent) were concerned about competition from other employers.

Of the organizations having difficulty recruiting, more than one-half (54 percent) cited using social media to deal with the challenge, followed by collaborating with education institutions (48 percent) and expanding advertising efforts (41 percent).

The survey polled more than 3,300 randomly selected HR professionals from nine different industries. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.

Other findings include:

  • One-quarter of organizations laid off employees, and 27 percent implemented budget cuts in the past 12 months.
  • Two-fifths (39 percent) of organizations have increased salaries, and one-third have provided bonuses in the past year.
  • Of the organizations hiring, 66 percent hired for completely new positions.
  • Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of organizations reported hiring U.S. military veterans for full-time regular positions in the last 12 months, an increase from 39 percent in 2011 and 58 percent in 2012.

​For more information about the survey findings, visit the SHRM Research webpage. Follow the Research Department on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Media: For more information or to schedule an interview about the surveys, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and or Vanessa Gray at 703-535-6072 or

About the Society for Human Resource Management
Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

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