By Lisa Proctor, Published on (

October 29, 2012

By Lisa Proctor

As students and parents are struggling with the challenges of choosing the right college and determining  what types of degrees will pay off their student loans and lead to jobs upon graduation, it is important to understand what employers are looking for and where the current talent shortages are.

Although you continually hear about high unemployment numbers, there is a “war for talent” in many critical positions locally, nationally and globally.  Employers cite a variety of causes behind their inability to fill jobs, ranging from:

  • Undesirable geographic locations,
  • Lack of technical competencies – hard skills (industry specific qualifications, certifications, computer/IT skills, foreign language),
  • Lack of experience,
  • Lack of employability skills – soft skills (enthusiasm/motivation, professionalism, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, collaboration/team work, flexibility/adaptability, problem solving & decision making, leaning mindset/intellectual curiosity, and critical/analytical thinking), or
  • Candidates looking for more pay than employers were offering.

With 10,000 people turning 65 every day for the next 17 years, employers recognize they need to continually be focused on ways to attract, identify, and train the existing and future talent pool.

According to the 2012 Talent Shortage Survey recently completed by Manpower Group, the top 10 jobs employers are having difficulty filling in the United States are:

1.     Engineers

2.     Skilled Trade Workers

3.     IT Staff

4.     Sales Representatives

5.     Accounting & Finance Staff

6.     Drivers / Transportation

7.     Mechanics

8.     Registered Nurses

9.     Machinists/Machine Operators

10.   Teachers

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics also listed the following as the top occupational groups with projected growth through 2020:

1.     Healthcare Support, Healthcare Practioners, and Healthcare Technical Occupations

2.     Personal Care and Service Occupations

3.     Community and Social Service Occupations

4.     Computer and Mathematical Occupations

5.     Business and Financial Operations Occupations

If you are in school or thinking of going back to school, you may find that companies will soon be looking for candidates with both a vertical and a horizontal skill set.  For example, companies may be looking for candidates with a traditional degree like computer engineering which will need to be paired with emerging fields such as online marketing or social media.  You may want to make sure to choose your course study, including your electives accordingly.

As an executive search firm, we are constantly being asked by our clients to fill positions that they are not able to fill.  We are currently working with a client who has an immediate need to fill 50+ audit professional positions in 15 cities with experienced external auditors who have recent public accounting experience who want to move into a consulting role within a variety of industries.  These positions have been extremely difficult to find because candidates may have the technical training but do not have the soft skills required for success in these roles, they do not like the location, or they don’t like to travel.

Understanding where the opportunities are, both now and in the future, is one of the best ways to find a career that you will love which will also meet both your personal and professional goals.

This article was written by Lisa Proctor, CEO and President, Sanford Rose Associates – Lake Lanier Islands, an executive search firm. Located at 4989 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 200 Peachtree Corners, GA 30092   Contact:[email protected].