Fortunately there are some useful strategies that can help, say experts.
In the interests of saving time for all concerned, the managing director of cv.co.nz, Tom O'Neil would prefer that each employment advertisement stipulated the salary range on offer, "but for some reason many companies fail to spell this out in their ad".
Consequently the applicant must do their homework.
"Before you start the job hunt go online and look at the various salary surveys. Look at the types of jobs out there and the sort of money being paid. When the salary for a certain position is not in the advertisement, visiting the online job site where it is advertised can be revelatory."
"Unbeknownst to you, when the employer put the job online they had to tick a box which said roughly how much the job pays. So all you do is you change the salary options on the right hand side (of the screen), and wait to see when the job comes up and when it disappears."
"For example, at $30,000 - $40,000 it's not there; at $40,000 - 50,000 it's there; $50,000 to 60,000 it's gone again. You have now read the salary range they must have used and can be certain the job pays between $40,000 to $50,000."
"You now have a good indication of where you sit financially. That means a lot of that pain and angst will be gone because you can establish if you're being paid too little, too much or enough when compared to others."
Without a clear idea ahead of how much you want, or how to present that figure, you're at a great disadvantage ahead of an interview.
O'Neil tells the story of a man who did three interviews and was then told he had the position he'd been seeking.
"He then telephoned his consultant to ask when he should enquire about money. He was starting Monday and he still did not know what he was getting. Actually, he was very enthusiastic and would have done job almost for free, but the point is we don't want to be in this situation."
He believes that there is a time to talk money - an optimum point between employee demand and candidate demand.
"When you send your CV in there's very light employer demand and around the second interview that peaks for the employers. It's the supply versus demand situation and you need to try to hit them right at the peak of that supply curve."
"You have the skills and they have the demand for you, but as soon as you get to a certain point where they know they have got you, they could almost offer you anything and you'd say yes."
If the interview process could be compared to dating, the agreement on salary would be the marriage proposal. And, just as with the dating analogy, you have to make the employer agree on the salary you are seeking at the point where there is most demand for you, while at the same time not making it too hard for them.
"Usually there will be two or three interviews, and I advise people not to bring money up in the first one. Early in the piece it's okay to ask the recruiter what the job is paying but generally you're going to have to try to give your prospective employer the impression that you're more interested in doing the work, that you have a passion for the industry."
"When the subject does come up, all the research suggests that it's to your advantage to let the other side make the first move. Get them to say what they are offering first, rather than laying out what you are seeking."
"You don't want to be too militant because you don't want to make them feel like you are pressuring them. When you respond, I always recommend people respond in a band."
"The band could be, say $50,000 to $60,000, depending on travel, vehicle and so forth. If the band is $10,000 wide and you get the top end when you're expecting the bottom end, over 20 years it could be $20,000 net to your advantage."
"However, if they are paying $70 - $80 and you are seeking $80 - $90 you are kind of still within cooee. But if they say $70 - $80 and you just flat out say you're seeking $85 you are actually (seen to be) still outside of it, with little room to manoeuvre."
Tips on getting the most out of your annual salary review
• Record valuable experiences and enumerate special qualities ahead of your review
• If you have completed a new qualification, finished some training or undertaken some career development let your employer know
• Spell out how you plan to translate your new knowledge and skills to benefit the business
• Meeting your targets is great but that's what your salary rewards you for. So to prove you deserve more you need to regularly go above and beyond your set KPIs (key performance indicators) and keep a track of them
• As well as revenue figures, bring along evidence of positive customer feedback or growth statistics to the salary review
• If you are adding value to the organisation beyond just your set responsibilities provide your examples