Jobs That Are Hard to Fill -- Even in 2011

Jobs That Are Hard to Fill -- Even in 2011

In this year of high unemployment and extraordinary economic anxiety, it’s hard to believe that any job openings are taking long to fill. But due to the ever-increasing complexity of the labor market and the constantly evolving needs of employers, some openings are going begging -- and creating excellent opportunities for candidates with the right job skills.        

The problem of unfilled job postings has increased dramatically since the depths of the 2007-2009 recession, according to ManpowerGroup’s 2011 Talent Shortage Survey. Some 52 percent of US employers are having trouble filling openings, up from 14 percent in 2010, the survey says.

So let’s take a look at six occupations that -- against seemingly astronomical odds -- offer numerous job listings even in these tumultuous times.

Accounting/Financial Analysts

If you’ve got even a few years of the right accounting or finance experience, you’ll be much in demand as an analyst. “There are a lot of accountants who can do transactional work, but it’s hard to find people who can do internal controls, decision management and forecasting,” says Dennis Whitney, senior vice president of the Institute of Management Accountants in Montvale, New Jersey.

The median accountant salary is $61,690 and the median financial analyst salary is $74,350, according to the BLS.

Find accounting jobs and finance jobs.

Corporate Manager

Yes, middle managers took a tremendous hit in the 2007-2009 recession. But managers with the chops to squeeze substantial costs out of business processes are still highly sought after. “Our top demand is for graduates in supply-chain management,” says Kevin Burns, director of the undergraduate career center at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

The median salary for a logisitician -- a professional who analyzes and coordinate's a company's supply chain is around $70,800, according to the BLS. The mean annual general manager salary is $137,450, according to the BLS.

Find manager jobs.


In 2011, more and more employers are depending on information systems to help find new business and drive down costs. “More companies than ever are hiring IT people,” says Steve Langerud, director of career services at DePauw University. “It’s creating demand in areas that no one expected.”

IT experts are also increasingly important as facilitators of information sharing within the enterprise. “Accounting and consulting firms now need people to manage information networks,” says Burns. “Not programmers, but people who are prepared to do knowledge management, who understand how to integrate information from marketing and finance.”

The BLS reports the mean annual IT salary at $81,720.

Find IT jobs.


There’s no simpler way to please the C suite these days than to propose a simple way to add to the top line. Most often that means hiring effective salespeople, who -- you guessed it -- aren’t easy to come by. “There’s an immense need for people in sales,” Burns says. “Business schools aren’t turning out people who seek sales as their first choice.”

Even in this occupation where earning potential typically rises year after year, turnover is high. “I often get calls from graduates six months or two years out, [saying] that sales job isn’t making them happy,” Langerud says.

While sales pay varies widely depending on industry, product/service sold, commission plan, bonuses and other factors, the median sales rep salary in the service industry is $50,620, according to the BLS. By comparison, the median sales manager salary exceeds $98,000

Find sales jobs.


Don’t we see headlines nearly every day about teacher layoffs? We do, but there are still areas where available jobs outnumber qualified candidates. “The shortage is in hard-to-fill positions in hard-to-work places that are short on money,” Langerud says. Inner-city teaching jobs, jobs in rural areas and special-education jobs often remain vacant for considerable periods, he says.

The median elementary school teacher salary is $51,660, while special ed teachers earn $52,250, according to the BLS.

Find teacher jobs.

Truck Drivers

Although some truck-driving jobs are cyclical and others are seasonal, turnover is high enough that employers are nearly always looking for vehicle operators. “It’s drivers of both local-delivery and long-haul trucks,” says Melanie Holmes, a vice president at Manpower in Milwaukee. “Truck drivers are an aging population, and not enough young people are willing to do this work.

Median truck driver salaries range from $28,630 to $37,770, depending on the type of truck driven, according to the BLS. 

Find truck driver jobs.

Some observers doubt the existence of worker shortages, given nearly stagnant wages. “If employers are finding big shortages, you should be seeing big wage increases,” says Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC. “But college-graduate wages have been essentially flat since 2000. Employers expect to get a really good deal on workers they want.”

So when jockeying for these in-demand jobs, qualified candidates shouldn’t be shy about letting the prospective employer know what they want in terms of compensation and benefits. But candidates must also decide in advance how they will respond if the employer holds the line, even when a position is hard to fill.

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