More than half of senior managers in the US, 51%, anticipate adding new permanent positions in the second half of 2021, according to a survey released today by Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE: RHI). Another 48% plan to fill vacated positions or bring back furloughed employees.

The practice area most cited for hires was admin support at 58%, followed by technology and marketing at 56% and 54%, respectively.

Despite the hiring optimism, challenges remain. Senior managers surveyed predict the biggest recruiting challenges for the remainder of the year will be finding candidates with the right skills, hiring quickly enough to land the best talent, and finding candidates who complement the company culture.

According to the research, 48% of companies are providing signing bonuses to entice prospective hires, 43% are giving more paid time off and 40% are offering better job titles. Still, employers can take up to seven weeks, on average, to hire for an open position.

“Hiring is happening across the board, and competition for talent is intensifying. Simultaneously, job seekers are becoming more discerning when evaluating opportunities,” said Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald. “With these two forces at play, employers need to exceed candidates’ expectations or risk losing them to better offers.”

Among the 28 US cities in the survey, those with the highest percentages of employers who expect to staff up are San Diego at 62%; Dallas at 61%; and Atlanta and Los Angeles at 58% each.

The “State of US Hiring” online survey was developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm from June 4 to July 1. It includes responses from more than 2,800 senior managers in finance, technology, marketing, legal, administrative support, human resources, and other areas at companies with 20 or more employees.