Many Jobs Require New Skills, Creating Recruiting Difficulty for California Employers, SHRM Survey Shows

One-half of California employers hired military veterans in past year, but state lags U.S. overall in veteran hiring

Oct 30, 2014
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Many California 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 survey of California HR professionals, 2014 Economic Conditions — Overall Financial Health and Hiring, is the latest in a series of 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 (95 percent) said in the Overall Financial Health and Hiring report that their organizations hired full-time employees in the past 12 months. Of them, one-half said new skills were required for the positions, citing growth of their organization, new products and services, and expanding business into new markets as the top reasons. About two-thirds (68 percent) reported it was somewhat or very difficult to recruit for positions that require new skills.

“Three-quarters 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, 52 percent of California respondents reported having difficulty recruiting for open positions. Esen noted, “It is clear that many jobs are not being filled possibly due to a skills mismatch between job seekers and open positions.”

The most difficult positions to fill were highly skilled positions: scientists, engineers, managers and executives, and computer specialists.

The top reasons California organizations have experienced difficulty in hiring for full-time regular positions were that candidates lack the right technical skills (54 percent) and the needed work experience (52 percent), as well as competition from other employers (50 percent). Compared to organizations in the rest of the United States, California employers were less likely to report that job applicants lacked basic computer skills.

Of the organizations having difficulty recruiting, more than one-half (51 percent) cited using social media to deal with the challenge, followed by the use of a recruitment agency (44 percent) and collaborating with education institutions (40 percent). California organizations (51 percent) were more likely than those in the United States overall (41 percent) to say that targeting passive job seekers was an effective strategy.

HR professionals and their employers should not blame recruiting difficulty solely on a skills mismatch, Esen noted. Two out of five California respondents said they had candidates turn down their compensation offer, suggesting that hiring is getting more competitive in some sectors.

The survey polled more than 570 randomly selected HR professionals in the state. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Other California findings include:

  • One-half of California organizations reported hiring U.S. military veterans for full-time regular positions in the last 12 months, compared with 64 percent in the rest of the country.
  • The high-tech industry in California is the industry most likely to recruit globally for hard-to-fill positions. Almost one-quarter (23 percent) of California organizations have sponsored foreign nationals for H-1B visas.
  • Of the organizations hiring, 62 percent hired for completely new positions.
  • Thirty-two percent of organizations laid off employees and 26 percent implemented budget cuts in the past 12 months.
  • More than one-third (37 percent) of organizations have increased salaries and 30 percent have provided bonuses in the past year.

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 and

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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