With the private sector adding jobs for over 70 months in a row, the U.S. labor market is on the mend. Case in point is the unemployment rate dipping below 5 percent this year for the first time since 2008, according to government figures. Much of this has been attributed to employers hiring more and adding jobs, now that business has picked up. This is particularly true in the technology sector, as a higher number of projects involving special equipment requires more hands – and brains – to manage them, a new poll reveals.

Nearly 85 percent of chief information officers anticipate adding more staff or filling open job posts for their technology teams in the second half of 2016, according to a recent survey conducted by Robert Half Technology, a recruitment firm. More specifically, 63 percent of CIOs will be hiring exclusively for positions that were recently vacated by former employees while 21 percent will increase the size of their ranks due to the new job functions created.

John Reed, Robert Half Technology senior executive director, indicated that because more projects are moving forward, they're taking the appropriate actions to address staffing levels.

"However, technology leaders continue to struggle to find highly skilled talent in a market with low unemployment," Reed explained. "They seek IT professionals with specialized skills, especially in the areas of cloud computing, data analytics, mobile strategies and cybersecurity."

95 percent of IT pros have dealt with cyberattack since 2014
Data breaches have affected virtually every business sector, including medical, retail, restaurants and IT. According to a recent poll conducted by advisory services firm KPMG, 97 percent of IT business owners and management professionals have been affected by a cyberattack.

Cybersecurity expertise isn't the only area that IT decision-makers are in the market for hiring. For example, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they hoped to find professionals who specialize in network administration, 55 percent for desktop support and 53 percent for database management, the Robert Half Technology survey found.

Mark Roberts, CEO for the national trade association TechServe Alliance, said that while hiring in the IT sector isn't as active as it's been in the past, it is when contrasted with other industries. Still, what businesses are really after are professionals with specific skill sets that match the job functions they're hiring for, both hard and soft.

IT companies are hiring, hoping to find talented professionals who have a good balance of soft and hard skills. IT companies are hoping to find talented professionals who have a good balance of soft and hard skills.

Hard to find talent with soft skills
For instance, problem-solving – a soft skill – is in high demand, a separate poll also from Robert Half Technology revealed. Twenty-six percent of CIOs said that if technology professionals want to ascend the ladder of success professionally, they should be especially adept at finding solutions to issues that arise, or thinking quickly on their feet. Twenty-eight percent pointed to communicating more clearly, both in written and verbal form, as a soft skill that tech employees could stand to improve upon.

Reed noted how business owners want a little bit of both, which is why job seekers shouldn't take for granted their ability to interact intelligently when they're looking to land a job.

"While technical skills open the door to new career opportunities for IT professionals, soft skills are essential for landing promotions and leadership roles," Reed cautioned. "Technology employees who seek advancement in today's business environment require a healthy mix of business acumen, interpersonal skills and technical ability."

IT and tech industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.