A survey of CFOs, controllers, tax directors, human resource directors and other hiring managers released in June shows that companies expect to hire more staff in accounting, finance and information technology over the next quarter.

Nearly half of the 132 U.S.-based firms surveyed from mid-May to early June by accounting and finance search firm Clear Focus in conjunction with Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan said they had unfilled staff positions in those areas for the third quarter of 2013. That’s a sharp rise from 30 percent who responded that way in the second quarter of 2013.

Of those who are hiring, 26 percent expected to increase the overall size of their staffs in accounting, finance and IT, which is up from 22 percent in the second quarter. “Increases of 10 percent or more in the size of their finance and accounting and IT staffs were anticipated by five percent of all firms,” according to the report. 

Managers in charge of accounting, finance and IT staff have said “we’ve been doing more with less long enough, so we have to add additional roles,” says Jim Wong, CEO of Clear Focus. “They are feeling confident enough to start tackling projects that they could not get to before.”

Similarly, tax professionals are seeing an increase in state tax audits and sales-tax and use-tax audits that are adding to the increased demand for staff, particularly temporary help. As state revenue departments look to increase their coffers and see if the right amount of tax was charged to a customer, the audits have grown, Wong says. “They need additional resources, so they are bringing in temporary staff to help them” backfill their roles as they handle the audits or to assist with the audits directly, he adds.

Skills most in demand by the hiring managers include: staying on top of changes in the corporation’s industry, remaining current on technology, having the ability to adapt to a changing environment, and having a positive attitude and willingness to learn.   

In another sign managers are ready to hire, respondents were less uncertain about the effects of the economy compared to what they felt last quarter, according to Wong. Almost half of the survey respondents anticipate more favorable economic conditions over the next quarter, compared to about 30 percent who believed that last quarter.

“When they talk about their own companies, they feel their economic conditions are improving,” he adds. “When you are feeling more confident about the economy, you are more willing to explore opportunities outside your current situation.”

The findings are similar to those of the larger Duke University and CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey conducted among 1,112 CFOs at the end of May, which showed that U.S. business optimism is on the rise. The Duke/CFO Magazine survey’s U.S. Business Optimism Index rebounded to 61 on a scale from 0 to 100, which is well above last quarter’s reading of 55. The level is also notable since it is above the long run average index value of 59.

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