SHRM Survey: Employers Face Increased Challenges in Recruiting, Hiring Qualified Job Applicants

HR professionals, organizations will need to invest in education, training  to address skills shortages

June 21, 2016

Washington, D.C. — As employers experience increased challenges in hiring qualified applicants, HR professionals will need to build strong cases for greater investments in securing talent, according to the New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages research report released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

More than one-half of HR professionals surveyed reported some level of basic skills/knowledge deficits among job applicants, and 84 percent said applicants are lacking when it comes to applied skills.

The report’s findings indicate that HR professionals must gather information and data to support the most effective recruiting and hiring strategies in this competitive environment.

“HR professionals from all industries report a highly competitive market for talent, with recruiting difficulty reaching levels not seen in years,” said Jen Schramm, manager of SHRM’s workforce trends and forecasting program. “Meanwhile, they also report both basic and applied skills shortages among job candidates. This is putting more emphasis on both the need for investing in employee training and education and in working in partnership with other leaders in business, education and government to improve the talent pipeline in their communities.”

Press briefing: Survey author Jen Schramm, manager of SHRM’s workforce trends and forecasting program, will be available for questions about the report via conference call at 10 a.m. ET today, Tuesday, June 21. For dial-in instructions, contact SHRM Media Relations at or

Other findings in the report, which is based on survey responses from 3,314 SHRM members, include the following:

  • The health and social assistance and manufacturing industries report the highest levels of recruiting difficulty. For instance, 46 percent of respondents indicated that the most-difficult-to-recruit-for positions are in the high-skilled medical job categories.
  • Smaller organizations (those with 1 to 99 employees) reported having the most difficulty in filling full-time manager and skilled trade positions.
  • Reasons for a more difficult recruiting environment include a small number of applicants, candidates without the needed work experience, competition from other employers, candidates’ lack of technical skills and the local market not producing enough qualified candidates.
  • Leveraging social media was the most common strategy HR professionals reported using to deal with recruiting difficulty. However, the strategy that was reported to be the most effective was training existing employees to take on hard-to-fill roles.

Despite the effectiveness of training, the report’s findings indicate that some HR professionals are faced with managing skills gaps without a training budget. Almost one-third of respondents reported that their organizations had no training budgets. Meanwhile, 11 percent reported that their training budgets had decreased in the last year. 

However, some organizations seem to be getting the message that there is a need for training, with 39 percent of respondents reporting that their organizations had increased their training budgets in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, 50 percent said budgets had remained unchanged.

To effectively manage the dual challenges of recruiting difficulty and skills shortages, HR professionals will need to work with their organizations’ leaders and others to invest in education and training as a way to address skills shortfalls, according to the report.

The full report is available online at

Media: To request an interview or dial-in instructions for the press briefing, contact Sundra Hominik of SHRM Media Relations at and 703-535-6273 or Kate Kennedy at and 703-535-6260.

About the Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries. For nearly seven decades, the Society has been the leading provider of resources serving the needs of HR professionals and advancing the 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 and Instagram @SHRMPress.


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