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Insights & Trends > Talent Acquisition

The Impact of the U.S. Skills Gap and Vacancies on Revenue and Turnover

CareerBuilder's 2012 Talent Crunch StudyRight now, there are more than 13.5 million unemployed people in the U.S. – but 2.5 million jobs are going unfilled every month. What’s going on here?

Our country is currently dealing with a talent crunch, or mismatch, of major proportions: There is a huge disconnect between what employers and job candidates perceive of one another, and it’s causing more jobs to go unfilled (and a lot of frustration).

Employers and candidates are misreading each other

While more than one-third of all companies have open positions which they can’t fill, many candidates are also having a hard time finding jobs for which they’re qualified. It turns out that employers and candidates are misinterpreting each other’s intentions and actions, leading to an increase, not a minimization, of the current skills gap.

See a side-by-side comparison of employer and candidate perceptions

Amazingly, 60 percent of companies are not doing anything about this, according to a new CareerBuilder Talent Crunch study among 1,648 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals and 2,036 U.S. job seekers.

Hardest-to-fill positions

The five areas U.S. enterprise organizations said are most difficult to recruit for are:

  • Engineering – 67 percent
  • C-level positions (CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.) – 60 percent
  • Information Technology – 60 percent
  • Research & Development – 54 percent
  • Production – 54 percent

The talent crunch is taking a toll on employees, too

  • One-third of employers (34 percent) reported that job vacancies have resulted in a lower quality of work due to employees being overworked.
  • 23 percent cited a loss in revenue.
  • 33 percent of employers said vacancies have caused lower morale, due to unfilled positions often translating into longer hours for existing staff.
  • 17 percent pointed to higher turnover within their organizations.

Realigning job skills

Employers have a big responsibility to turn the tide. As Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, stresses, “If we want to see more positive movement in the U.S. market, we have to do a better job of realigning the skills of our labor force with positions that are in high demand. Prolonged vacancies can result in lower quality work, lower sales and morale, and can cause a delay in creating other related positions within the organization.”

As he adds, many employers are being proactive about the issue and taking steps to lessen the skills gap: “Fortunately, we see more companies taking matters into their own hands and putting programs in place to retrain and transition workers into their industries or fields.”

Watch Jamie Womack explain the current talent crunch at SHRM 2012

Training, stealing and stretching

Some employers are heeding this advice to secure talent for hard-to-fill positions, making plans for everything from new training tactics to poaching talent from their competitors:

  • Fifty percent of employers of all sizes are planning to hire workers without experience in a particular industry or field and train them.
  • Thirty-one percent are planning to cross-train current employees.
  • 19 percent are targeting talent from competitors.
  • Nearly two-thirds are willing to stretch incentives such as offering flexible hours (25 percent), higher salary (22 percent) and remote work options (15 percent).

Two in five companies (41 percent) reported they already have programs in place to help alleviate the skills gap, including on-the-job training, mentoring, and sending employees back to school.

The job seeker’s perspective

Many U.S. job seekers, especially those in industries hit hard by the recession, are being forced to explore new industries to find employment, and the transition isn’t always easy: Around 25 percent of unemployed workers have been laid off since 2008. As a result, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) knowingly apply for a position for which they don’t possess the required skills, just to try to find some kind of employment.

Despite these setbacks, job candidates are willing to learn new skills, compromise on benefit packages, and participate in training. Additionally, 77 percent said they would be willing to take a job in a different field than the one in which they currently work. More than half (54 percent) say they would be open to relocating to a new city or state.

Recommendations for employers 

As an employer, there are four key ways you can begin to bridge the skills gap and help straighten out the current misperceptions of many job candidates:

  1. Reevaluate your organization’s training, re-training and re-skilling programs.
  2. Adopt a talent management philosophy for long-term, sustainable growth.
  3. Provide more productive feedback to candidates.
  4. Get smart about attracting and retaining top talent.

Get the full list of recommendations here.

Take a look at the stark contrast between employers’ and job seekers’ perceptions when it comes to everything from resume gaps to the current candidate pool:CareerBuilder's 2012 Talent Crunch Study

Check out all of CareerBuilder’s Talent Crunch study findings and recommendations — and sign up for our upcoming webinar, The Talent Mismatch.


CareerBuilder’s Talent Crunch study was produced in conjunction with CareerBuilder’s “Empowering Employment” initiative, a partnership effort that showcases the programs and learnings of companies who are committed to retraining workers and fueling job creation.


Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.


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