Is There Really Such a Thing as a Hard-to-Fill Job?

I’ve hired a lot of people over the course of my career, so believe me when I tell you that some jobs are just flat out difficult if not impossible to fill.

Some of the worst of these popped up while I was a newspaper editor in Honolulu (believe-it-or-not it’s true, but THAT’s a story for another day), and they seemed to be positions that we kept offering to people only to have them keep turning down.

That’s why this post by the always insightful Howard Adamsky this week over on our sister website (The Myth of the Hard-to-Fill Job) was so interesting to me. It’s like Howard says: “There are, in almost all cases, no hard-to-fill positions. Most positions that are open for endless time are that way for a reason.”

Yes, even my hard-to-hire positions in Hawaii were open for a reason, and that reason was one that I understood and grudgingly accepted but that my corporate overlords some 6,000 miles away in Washington did not. They didn’t understand, as Howard over at ERE, some of the things that make a hard-to-hire position so, well, hard-to-hire.

Sound like something you might have dealt with? That’s why this is a great post to take a good look at, because my guess is that it will resonate with you like it did with me.

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As Howard Adamsky writes:

I just finished looking at a position profile for a job with a pharmaceutical company. The laundry list of bulleted requirements for this position is 22 — and I can assure you that these are not easy-to-find requirements. They’re all action words and full of responsibility for everything under the sun. (Yes, advanced degree required.) Perhaps God can do this job but in terms of mere human beings, I do not see it happening. I picked up the phone and had a conversation with a trusted associate who tells me the position has been open for a long time and has now been classified as “hard to fill.”

I dislike this “hard-to-fill” mindset. I know that some jobs, by their nature, are going to be a challenge, but the impossible ones just irritate me for a host of reasons. Let me enumerate just three of them below and we can then move on to solution-oriented thinking.”

For more of this post, click here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


1 Comment on “Is There Really Such a Thing as a Hard-to-Fill Job?

  1. I agree.   I saw a comment on LinkedIn that said with all the downsizing in the last 2 years, when a company does hire a person — they don’t want a person that can do Job A as in the past.   They want a person that can Job A, B and C because they are trying to combine jobs to keep from hiring more people.  And it is almost impossible to hire “Job A, B and C”.   Extreme example:  RN, MRI technician and Doctor.

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