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What Sectors of the Economy are Hot and How to Take Advantage Job seekers and employees alike are discovering new and more efficient ways to adjust to a more robust hiring market.

By Burton Goldfield Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. labor market lost 8.4 million jobs or 6.1 percent of all payroll employment. This marked the most dramatic employment dip of any recession since the Depression. Even after the economy started to rebound in the summer of 2009, the employment growth wasn't nearly enough to keep pace with the expanding population. The growth forecast for the rest of this year looks positive, however.

According to research conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of my company, TriNet, 50 percent of 206 small business owners surveyed planned to hire more employees this year. And 35 percent of the survey respondents considered hiring qualified staff as one of their top-three priorities.

Related: How to Recruit Salespeople Who Will Deliver Dramatic Returns

While the jobs count for sales and marketing as well as software engineering positions has expanded the most, the number of hires for operations positions has grown the least, according to TriNet's SMBeat survey early this year of the 8,900 U.S. businesses who make up its clients. Given the importance of sales and marketing functions for revenue growth, job expansion in that sector is an indicator of the recovery. With the rising importance of the digital economy, software engineering jobs have mushroomed, cropping up even beyond the tech sector.

The demand for sales and marketing jobs has been strong across most industries. According to TriNet's SMBeat survey, the tech sector's voracious appetite for these positions has meant a 42 percent annual growth on average over the past four years. The retail and wholesale sector also increased its sales and marketing staffing levels. On a regional basis, the New York metro area led the pack in sales and marketing job growth during this four-year stretch, followed by the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles areas. No growth in sales jobs is forecast for the Los Angeles region for the rest of this year, though.

Related: How to Hire the Absolute Best Talent for Tech Jobs

Nationally, the number of software engineering jobs has risen the most inside the tech sector, with 30 percent annual growth on average from 2010 to 2013. Demand for such positions has also been strong in the life sciences and professional services sector. In the major tech hubs of San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, the number of software engineering jobs has spiked substantially since the Great Recession.

The tally for jobs in operations -- for accountants, customer service reps and property management personnel -- has increased far less dramatically, on average, just 9 percent a year from 2010 to 2013. The growth in operations jobs in the tech sector, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York metro region, has been somewhat higher.

Related: To Beat the Competition, You Need to Kick Butt at Hiring

Matching skills to opportunities. Recent college graduates, unemployed workers or those looking to switch jobs are in luck as the job market is picking up in comparison to conditions three or four years ago. But merely knowing which industries are doing well may not be enough: Some candidates may need to acquire new skills

In this climate of aggressive hiring, companies are finding it more difficult to attract the right candidates. Job seekers are often deciding between multiple offers and positions. It's become an employees' market due to the strengthening economy and rise in employment. A company that does not think strategically about recruiting will miss out on the best applicants.

Companies can distinguish themselves by offering competitive pay, superior benefits and retirement options. Outstanding employees will want to work for outstanding companies.

Some firms identify the most suitable candidates using skill tests and personality questionnaires that focus in on attributes needed for the open position.

Other organiztions offer training opportunities to ensure new employees succeed by maintaining and advancing job skills and industry knowledge. The competitive nature of the current hiring market will rejuvenate the techniques companies used to attract and maintain the best talent.

In hiring, employers should keep their business objectives in mind and determine what talents are missing and needed for their company to succeed. Taking a strategic approach to hiring will garner better results.

Related: 9 Questions to Ask Candidates' References

Burton Goldfield

President and CEO, TriNet

Burton Goldfield is president and CEO of San Leandro, Calif.-based TriNet, an HR outsourcing partner to small businesses. He is responsible for setting TriNet's overall corporate strategy and providing guidance regarding its human capital offerings.

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