New Survey Highlights the Hardest Jobs to Fill in 2013

One of the paradoxes of the current economic recovery is this: despite a national employment rate at 7.6 percent and nearly 12 million Americans out of work, there are still certain jobs that recruiters are struggling to find good candidates for.

In fact, new research by CareerBuilder indicates that 35 percent of hiring managers have positions that have been open for 12 weeks or more, although that may tell you just as much about the hiring process in many organizations as it does about the inability to find suitable candidates.

Still, all of this leads to the annual nationwide survey by CareerBuilder that aims to identify the hardest-to-fill jobs that recruiters everywhere are probably struggling to hire for right now.

A list that’s not terribly surprising

According to CareerBuilder, the study was conducted online by their partner Harris Interactive from May 14 to June 5, 2013, from more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals. They asked employers to identify the hardest-to-fill positions within their organizations that stay open 12 weeks or longer. CareerBuilder then paired the list of occupations with job growth data provided by Economic Modeling Specialists (EMSI) to showcase the number of positions that were added post-recession.

Among the jobs that were cited as most difficult to fill, in order of jobs added from 2010 to 2013, are:

  • Sales representative
    • 584,792 new jobs added from 2010 to 2013
    • 3.8 percent job growth from 2010 to 2013
  • Machine operator/Assembler/Production worker
    • 135,363 new jobs
    • 9.9 percent growth
  • Nurse
    • 135,325 new jobs
    • 5 percent growth
  • Truck Driver
    • 113,517 new jobs
    • 6.7 percent growth
  • Software Developer
    • 103,708 new jobs
    • 11.2 percent growth
  • Engineer
    • 73,995 new jobs
    • 4.9 percent growth
  • Marketing Professional
    • 57,045 new jobs
    • 11.3 percent growth
  • Accountant
    • 55,670 new jobs
    • 4.5 percent growth
  • Mechanic
    • 53,002 new jobs
    • 4.1 percent growth
  • IT Manager/Network Administrator
    • 48,709 new jobs
    • 7.5 percent growth

The struggle continues with some occupations

“Although the recession created an abundant pool of readily-available, unemployed talent that still exists today, employers are struggling to find new employees for technology-related occupations, sales, health care and a variety of other areas,” said Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America, in a press release about the survey.

He added: “Two in five employers (41 percent) reported that they continuously recruit throughout the year, so that they have candidates in their pipeline in case a position opens up down the road. The skills gap that exists for high-growth, specialized occupations will become even more pronounced in the years to come, prompting the need to place a greater emphasis on reskilling workers through formal education and on-the-job training.”

If you’re like me, you probably aren’t terribly surprised by this list. After all, haven’t we been hearing a drumbeat of how hard it is to find engineers, nurses, and accountants?

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But, I was fascinated by some of the details. For example, who knew that there has been more growth in jobs for marketing professionals than for engineers, nurses, or software developers in the last three years? Or, that a half-million — yes, more than 500,000 — sales jobs have been added since 2010?

Information is usually a good thing

CareerBuilder notes that data on the number of new jobs added since 2010, as well as the corresponding growth percentages, were provided by EMSI, a CareerBuilder company. EMSI data is collected from more than 90 federal and state sources, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and state labor departments. EMSI removes suppressions often found in publicly available data and includes proprietors, creating a complete picture of the workforce.

None of this makes the job filling these positions any easier. In fact, I’m guessing that reading about the jobs that are hardest to fill probably just reinforces what you already know or have suspected.

But, more information is almost always a good thing. Knowing what jobs are tough to find people for may help you to adjust your recruitment and hiring strategy — and that may be a positive development for you and your recruiting team as you move ahead.

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 “New Survey Highlights the Hardest Jobs to Fill in 2013

  1. Quite interesting list, Anything common among all these jobs even remotely, yes…. they all are business face or first contact with customers and can make or break deal. What say?

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