(RNN) - With high unemployment comes plenty of people looking for jobs. So why are companies having such a hard time filling openings?
Nearly half of U.S. employers say they have a hard time finding employees to fill important positions in their companies, according to the seventh annual Talent Shortage Survey from the ManpowerGroup.
Employers blame a lack of applicants, applicants looking for higher wages than the company can offer and a lack of experience.
This comes in spite of recent numbers from Gallup that show unemployment in the U.S. at 8.6 percent in April.
"Across the board, there is a shortage of talent," said Linda Browder, director of the Montgomery, AL, branch of Warren Averett Staffing & Recruiting.
The company specializes in recruiting for positions in accounting, engineering, information technology and the medical field.
The fields are consistently among the hardest to fill, according to the ManpowerGroup survey - something Browder has seen firsthand.
A job posting from Warren Averett Staffing & Recruiting can get anywhere from 60 to more than 150 applications from hopeful employees. Of those, a maximum of three get introduced to prospective employers.
"There's a very, very slim margin that actually makes it through the process," Browder said. "We can only afford to work with the cream of the crop."
Contrary to popular belief, the tricky process of rising to the top of the application pile only gets harder when the economy takes a turn.
"Most people think 'Oh, It'll be easy to find new employment," Browder said. "There are people who are unemployed, but what you don't have that you had five years ago are the people who would leave their current job for a better opportunity."
The art of marketing yourself during the economic downturn is something medical assistant Randa Fa'shho learned first-hand after she graduated from Everest College in San Francisco in 2009.
"For a good four months, I literally sat on the computer from morning, all night and day like it was a job," Fa'shho said.
She estimates that she sent an average of 20 resumes out to employers every day, scraping by with a job at a coffee shop to support herself and her child, who was born shortly after she graduated.
"Nobody wants a person straight out of school," she said.
Of the 32 people in her graduating class, she estimates only three managed to find a job in the medical field.
Since graduation, she's managed to land a job at the California Pacific Medical Center, a San Francisco hospital where she interned while she was a student.
Fa'shho contacted her old supervisor in hopes of getting a position. A few weeks later, a position opened up and she was offered a job.
"I'm really lucky," she said, pointing to her 29 other classmates who were unable to find a job.
In Browder's line of work, unpaid positions like the internship Fa'shho took while she was a student can be the key to distinguishing between a qualified and an unqualified candidate.
"When you're volunteering or doing an internship, you're giving people the opportunity to see the quality of employee you can be," she said.
When looking at applications, the hard skills required for a job are taken into account, but so are the softer skills which can only be proved through prior experience.
Browder has held her position at Warren Averett Staffing & Recruiting for three years, but her background isn't in recruiting - it's in human resources.
She spent 18 years in the field before making the transition into her current job.
"What I love is identifying talent," she said. "My experience in human resources helped me figure out how to identify talent."
For employees looking to transition into another field, Browder recommends finding related work, volunteer positions or internships to bridge the gap.
"Do all you can," she said. "Get your Masters."
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