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Home | Job Seekers | Employers | News | More  632 Job Openings 344 Companies 10259 Resumes

Talent War: Do You Have a Battle Plan?

By April Clark, Manpower


Did I hear you correctly? Are you having trouble finding employees? Yes. Despite continued high unemployment, U.S. employers continue to struggle to fill mission-critical positions for their businesses. Even though record-numbers of people are unemployed and looking for work, an ongoing talent shortage persists among U.S. employers who are often competing for the same skilled individuals.

But there are ways to win the talent war and combat the skills shortage head on. Employers that align their workforce strategy with their business strategy are better prepared to anticipate talent needs for today and tomorrow. A winning workforce strategy can separate thriving market leaders from surviving competitors. How badly do you want to thrive?

Manpower's Seventh Annual Talent Shortage Survey

Manpower's seventh annual Talent Shortage survey reveals that nearly half (49 percent) of U.S. employers are having trouble filling key positions at their place of business. According to the more than 1,300 U.S. employers surveyed, the positions that are most difficult to fill include Skilled Trades, Engineers and IT Staff, all of which have appeared on Manpower's U.S. list multiple times since the survey began in 2006.

The top 10 hardest jobs to fill in 2012 include:

  1. Skilled Trades
  2. Engineers
  3. IT Staff
  4. Sales Representatives
  5. Accounting & Finance Staff
  6. Drivers
  7. Mechanics
  8. Nurses
  9. Machinists/Machine Operators
  10. Teachers

When asked why they are having difficulty sourcing qualified candidates for these positions, employers cite three main reasons: a simple lack of available applicants in their market, candidates looking for more pay than offered, and lack of experience among those that do apply.

Part of the reason it is proving so hard for employers to find people with the right skills is the rapid change in the Human Age, which Manpower has defined as a new reality in which human potential is a major agent of economic growth. The skills required to perform in a certain role are changing all the time, particularly due to fast-paced technological evolution. It's difficult for candidates to keep up.

What's more, Manpower asked employers about the strategies they are pursing to overcome talent shortages. The top two responses among U.S. employers were to focus on staff retention in jobs where recruitment is difficult and to appoint individuals who don't have the job skills currently, but do have potential to learn and grow.

Battle Plan to Win

Talent mismatch is not new, and hiring managers have struggled to find the right people with the right skills since at least 2006. But today, too many employers have become complacent about the talent shortage. In fact, a substantial proportion of employers indicate unfilled positions are expected to have little or no impact on key constituents, including customers and investors.

This is alarming as it implies employers are simply giving up and not realizing the full impact the skills shortage has on their business potential. Manpower strongly advises employers of all sizes to align their workforce strategy with their business strategy. Overall workforce strategies that companies need today must plot current and future needs of the business by factoring changing business conditions, emerging technologies, available workforce supply and human resources. With the right workforce strategies in place, businesses will win as they attract and retain the best employees.

Coming Up

Stay tuned for my next article when I address what strategies to tackle first.

Ask the Writers

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About the Author:

April Clark, SPHR is Vice President and Regional Director for Manpower, and a 27-year veteran of Maine's HR landscape. April also serves as District Director for the Maine State SHRM Council, and is considered a thought leader on topics related to the changing world of work. For more information about Manpower's approach to today's world of work, contact April at april.clark (at)'s mission is to help job seekers find real, local, jobs in Rhode Island and reach their career goals.

With, job seekers can conveniently search jobs by location, category, duration, and more. Users can also browse jobs by category and/or city. All employment opportunities are conveniently organized to facilitate the search of jobs - including full-time, part-time and temporary positions, as well as seasonal and volunteer work. Job seekers can save their custom search preferences, and even choose to receive automated Job Alert emails on a daily or weekly basis. is Rhode Island's number one resource for job seekers and employers, offering insightful advice and articles through our award-winning newsletters and social media channels. is actively involved in the communities we serve, partnering with local chambers of commerce, sports teams, trade associations and career centers, and attending local career fairs and business-to-business events. How Rhode Island Gets to Work.