The Road Ahead: Hiring Trends and High-Demand Jobs

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Twice each year, Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group consult thousands of CIOs and advertising and marketing executives across the United States to find out their hiring plans for the upcoming six months. The results of the latest surveys spell good news for those pursuing work in the tech and creative fields.

It’s a different story for hiring managers, who are struggling to recruit and retain the talent they seek.

Hiring plans for the remainder of 2016

The need to hire IT professionals remains strong, driven by greater investments in digital initiatives. In fact, 21 percent of CIOs report they plan to expand their technology teams between now and year-end. An additional 63 percent anticipate filling open roles, while only 16 percent expect hiring freezes or layoffs. These numbers are practically unchanged from six months ago.

In the creative market, we’re seeing similar hiring trends. Among the advertising and marketing executives we surveyed, 13 percent plan to add more full-time positions, up two points from the first half of the year. In addition, 20 percent of advertising execs and 10 percent of marketing execs expect to increase the number of freelance staff. A majority (59 percent) of respondents said they expect to maintain staff levels and hire primarily to fill vacated roles.

The data suggest two trends in the creative industry. For one, growth by U.S. companies means a greater need to market their products and services. This is leading advertising agencies to build out their teams in order to capitalize on new business opportunities with their corporate clients. At the same time, corporate clients are increasingly shifting toward project-based contracts versus paying a monthly retainer, and agencies are responding by bringing on freelancers and contractors in lieu of full-time employees.

Hiring remains up for high-demand IT jobs

On the technology side, the hiring market for tech professionals seems to get more competitive each quarter, and our survey results reflect this trend. In our latest survey of CIOs, 61 percent of respondents said they’re having difficulty hiring IT specialists; this figure inched up from 60 percent six months ago.

The IT jobs in highest demand are largely unchanged from earlier this year. The three skills that are the most challenging to find:

If you’re a hiring manager in the Midwest, you may be feeling the most optimistic about increasing your company’s IT ranks. Tech hiring hotspots are scattered across the country, but CIOs in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Detroit are especially likely to add staff.

Recruiting challenges subside for creative professionals

Among advertising and marketing executives, difficulty in hiring seems to have eased a bit. In our survey for the second half of 2016, 41 percent of respondents reported it’s challenging to find skilled creative professionals. This is down from 58 percent six months ago.

High-demand jobs in the creative sector are in brand/product management, content marketing, customer experience and web design/production. Other jobs in demand included a mix of the traditional—creative/art direction, print design/production and copywriting—and digital roles like customer experience and interactive media.

What this means for businesses

While recruiting challenges are a sign of a healthy economy, they are obviously not welcome news for employers competing for the best candidates. What’s more, companies may find themselves struggling to hold on to existing staff in high-demand tech and creative specialties.

To avoid employee turnover, now may be a good time to boost your staff recognition program and ensure you’re paying staff competitively. The Robert Half Technology Salary Guide and The Creative Group Salary Guide feature up-to-date information on salary ranges for a wide range of technology and interactive, design and marketing positions.  After all, it’s less expensive and more effective to retain star performers than try to replace them.

John ReedJohn Reed is the senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. He can usually be found racking up frequent flyer miles each week traveling to Robert Half Technology offices across North America and speaking to industry groups about technology hiring trends. For more information, visit


Diane DomeyerDiane Domeyer is executive director of The Creative Group (TCG), a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. When she’s not managing operations for TCG’s locations across North America or speaking and tweeting about career and workplace trends, you can find her on a bike or spending time with her husband, five kids and grandchildren. For more information, visit

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