Despite rising unemployment and a challenging labor market, global executives remain optimistic that the war for talent is still being waged. A vast majority of respondents to the most recent Executive Quiz released by The Korn/Ferry Institute predict a long-term increase in the demand for talent. Additionally, the majority of executives remain confident about their own career prospects and believe that 2009 will see a recovery in the labor market.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents feel the demand for talent will increase more over the next five years than it did during the previous five years. Nearly half (45 percent) say the demand will increase "significantly." Only 13 percent feel the demand for talent will decrease relative to the past five years.

Executives suggest optimism about a 2009 labor market upswing, even in the wake of widespread layoffs. Fifty-two percent predict a 2009 recovery, though 35 percent expect to wait until the second half of the year before seeing signs of improvement. Another 39 percent expect labor market challenges to linger until 2010, and 9 percent believe it will take two years or more for the labor market to recover from the current economic slump.

Executives seeking jobs remain confident in their ability to find one, according to the survey. Half (50 percent) say they are "very confident" and 30 percent are "somewhat confident" that they will find a job that meets their expectations in 2009. Only 10 percent of job hunters are uncertain about their prospects for finding a new opportunity that meets their expectations.

"No one has a crystal ball, but companies operating in industries hardest hit in this recession will more than likely realize that they quickly need to focus more on hiring once the worst has passed," said Paul C. Reilly, chairman, Korn/Ferry International. "Because of this long-term demand curve, executives are optimistic about their own career opportunities. Korn/Ferry's research and four decades of industry experience validate this optimism."