According to Dice's semi-annual survey, 73 percent of hiring managers say they will look to hire more tech professionals in the second half of 2017, a five-point increase since the last hiring survey conducted in November 2016 and three-point increase from the survey in June 2016. While bullish regarding hiring plans, hiring managers report the time to fill open tech positions continues to lengthen due primarily to the inability to find qualified candidates, according to 38 percent of respondents. “In the fast-moving tech industry, skills gaps are common and employers are often challenged to find candidates with the latest proficiencies. Professionals are increasingly seeking out new training opportunities and experiences like Hackathons to ensure they're up-to-date,” said Bob Melk, President of Dice. Waiting to find the perfect fit (34 percent) and caution related to the economy (10 percent) were also factors in the lengthening fill times. While the economy ranked among the top three reasons, only 13 percent of respondents who recruit for their own needs say layoffs are likely in the next six months. Seventy-four percent of hiring managers say building a bench is more important than a year ago, underscoring the concept that ongoing conversations with candidates and creating a relationship with tech pros is key. Plus, employers are looking for more experienced tech pros: Hiring managers report a four-point increase in their plans to hire candidates with 6-10 years of experience, and a six-point increase in their plans to hire candidates with 10-plus years of experience. While 56 percent of hiring managers say salaries are on the rise, only 44 percent report they're up for existing staff, which could lead to more movement and higher turnover among tech pros. Tech pros who are looking to make a move can look forward to incentives that hiring managers say they're using to attract new professionals, including unlimited vacation, sign-on bonuses, and perks such as free lunches and gym memberships. In the tech industry, where unemployment remains notably lower than the national average, many tech pros are already aware of the hunger for talent, especially in “hot” sub-industries such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. That means hiring managers on the lookout for specialized talent will still need to offer the best combination of salary and perks if they want to land the employees they need.