REPORT: What Are the Hardest-to-Fill Small Business Jobs in America?

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak may have started Apple in a garage, but they aren’t unique in launching a huge company from small beginnings. Starbucks was launched by two teachers and a writer in 1971, and Amazon and Google began in garages too. When Whole Foods was getting off the ground, their founders were so strapped for cash that they slept in their store.

Companies don’t magically appear out of thin air with thousands of employees, huge campuses and millions in revenue: things start small. But of course, just because a company is large doesn’t mean it’s successful, and for many businesses becoming a behemoth is not necessarily the point.

For employees, there can be many advantages to working at a small business. Because there are fewer people than at giant enterprises, this can translate into more responsibility and the opportunity to work in multiple areas. As a result, workers have a chance to grow and learn quickly.

But with US unemployment at record lows, hiring is challenging for many employers—and small businesses are no exception. The average number of days that jobs are remaining open is at an all-time high (30.4 working days), and in a recent Indeed survey, more than half of small businesses said they found it somewhat difficult or very difficult to find the right employee for their business. And it doesn’t appear to be getting easier over time—35% say it’s harder to hire now than it was five years ago.

What are the hardest-to-fill roles at small businesses?

Using Indeed data, we looked at this problem in detail by analyzing the specific jobs that have been open for more than 60 days at companies with 150 or fewer employees. Job postings can be open for longer than 60 days for different reasons—in this case Indeed uses this measure as a proxy for hiring difficulty. Using this information, we’ve highlighted some especially difficult-to-fill positions and compiled a list of the hardest-to-fill roles based on the percentage of openings for that role after two months.

Using our measure of percentage of jobs open after 60 days, we see that the most difficult jobs to fill at small businesses cut across many industries, reflecting an overall tight national labor market. The list features roles from health care (medical sales executives and nurses) to sports (gymnastics coach) to beauty (barber/stylist).

At the top, the most difficult position to fill is medical sales executive, with half of all jobs still open 60 days after posting. Medical sales executives promote and sell their companies’ products, anything from pharmaceutical drugs to medical equipment, and even health care professionals.

Two other roles in the field of health care seem particularly tricky to fill for small businesses—number six is registered telemetry nurse (nurses who monitor patients’ vital signs, with 41.6% of jobs unfilled after 60 days), and number nine is labor and delivery nurse (40.9% of jobs remain unfilled after 60 days). The nursing shortage has been well documented, and with good reason—though there is growth in the field of nursing, to…

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