Despite New Zealand’s slow wage growth of 1.8 per cent recorded in December 2017 research from Robert Half has found jobseekers’ salary expectations are rising in New Zealand. According to the survey of 300 New Zealand hiring managers one in three (30 per cent) say job applicants’ expectations for remuneration are higher than current market rates. Two in three (65 per cent) say they are in line, and only five per cent say remuneration expectations are below average compensation rates.
However, in an encouraging sign for skilled jobseekers looking to negotiate higher starting salaries when interviewing for a new role, more than eight in 10 (84 per cent) hiring managers say they are willing to raise the initially-planned starting salary by an average of 10 per cent to secure top professionals when hiring for an open position.
“In a market characterised by rising cost of living and static wage growth, many professionals are eager to negotiate an above-average starting salary,” notes Megan Alexander, general manager of Robert Half New Zealand. “And with employers willing to entice job applicants with a salary in line with or even above market rates, professionals would benefit from staying abreast of what the skills in demand are in their sector and keeping their competencies up to date, making them an in-demand candidate.”
Job applicants and hiring managers alike both need to come to the salary negotiating table prepared. According to the research, more than four in 10 (42 per cent) hiring managers say the most appropriate time for jobseekers to discuss salary is during the first interview, with just under one-quarter (24 per cent) citing the second interview. Under one in five (19 per cent) say salary should be discussed at the final interview or offer stage, one in 10 (11 per cent) say when a candidate submits their CV, while only 5 per cent say ‘never’ as salary discussions should always be initiated by the company.
“Timing is essential for salary negotiations, though candidates need to realise that before starting a dialogue about salary expectations, they need to display suitability for the role and be sure the job is right for them,” said Alexander. “When the employer initiates salary discussions, to gain an advantage at the negotiating table, professionals should benchmark their current salary, experience and skill level by using industry tools, such as a salary guide, to determine their market value.
“Jobseekers should always try to negotiate a competitive starting salary, and even if the offered salary doesn’t meet their expectations, it’s perfectly acceptable and common to request additional non-financial incentives such as additional leave and flexibility,” she added. “Also, it’s important for jobseekers to look at the full picture when evaluating a job offer as their dream job could offer a generous benefits package or opportunities to learn and grow with the company, which may compensate for a lower starting salary.”