More than half the employers in a new poll say they plan to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months, according to research released on Tuesday that could spell relief for unemployed U.S. workers.

Four in 10 employers plan to hire contract, temporary or project workers, and another four in 10 will be hiring part-time employees, according to the survey conducted for Robert Half International, a staffing company, and, an online career site.

The study found 53 percent of employers said they expect to hire full-time employees over the next 12 months.

Some 14.5 million U.S. workers are unemployed, according to recent U.S. government statistics.

Despite the high number of potential job applicants, six in 10 employers said they would be willing to negotiate higher pay with qualified candidates.

Many employers also reported difficulty finding skilled people to fill openings and said on average, 44 percent of the resumes they receive are from unqualified candidates.

The areas most likely to be adding jobs are technology, customer service and sales, the research found. Asked what characteristics they seek most in applicants, employers said they want multitaskers, self-starters with initiative and creative problem solvers.

When the economy improves, 28 percent of employers said they were most likely to fill entry-level jobs, and 32 percent said they would fill staff-level jobs. Only 7 percent said they would fill management jobs, only 2 percent said they would fill director jobs and 1 percent would fill executive jobs.

Forty percent of hiring managers said when the economy improves, pay raises will be their primary method for keeping their top employees.

Among employees, 49 percent said after the economy improves, the most effective way to keep them in their jobs will be pay increases, and 28 percent said they plan to ask for raises.

The survey, the fifth annual Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations report, was conducted by telephone of 501 hiring managers and 505 workers for Robert Half International and by International Communications Research from April 30 to May 31, 2009. The survey's overall margin of error was 4.4 percentage points. is owned by Gannett Co, Tribune Co, McClatchy Co and Microsoft Corp.

(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman)