The Robert Walters Hiring Intentions Survey 2014, seen exclusively by HR magazine, polled hiring managers from more than 100 employers across the UK. It found more HR professionals are looking to increase headcount than professionals from any of the other departments surveyed.
Almost three-quarters of HR managers (70%) are looking to make junior or mid-level hires, making it the area most are looking to strengthen.
Sales and marketing, PR and communications (both 42%) have the second most positive hiring outlook. They are closely followed by accounting and finance (41%).
Law firm Clyde & Co group HR director Charlie Keeling told HR magazine the function has "upped its game" during the recession and is now gearing up for a period of growth.
"Business leaders have seen that good HR professionals are not only operationally very effective, but have the ability to play a value-added role in business leadership," he said.
The report also revealed that 40% of HR managers believe skills shortages will affect their hiring intentions. Robert Walters HR consultant Charlotte Matthew told HR magazine the shortages are largely driven by "exponential growth in technology, MI and analytics".
"However, from our experience, this is an area that our clients continue to invest heavily in, in order to ensure employees stay ahead of the curve," she said.
"With topics such as leadership and talent retention being at the forefront of most FTSE 100 boardroom conversations, this will also continue to close the gap and further develop HR expertise in new and exciting areas."
Keeling added that junior and mid-level employees will be looking to "cut their teeth" in transactional areas before moving to strategic roles.
"They are also likely to be developing specialisms at this point, such as resourcing, employee relations, talent development and compensation and benefits," he said.