Sign-on bonuses and perks are on offer as Tauranga companies and recruiters battle to secure - or keep - sought-after candidates amid a boom in job listings.
Listings are up 43 per cent on last year in the Bay of Plenty, and Tauranga recruiters say some candidates are using job offers as bargaining tools to get more perks.
Ryan + Alexander director Kiri Burney said across all industries companies were "under-resourced and struggling" to find the right candidates.
"Traditionally this is our busiest time of year so the pattern is consistent, but we believe that it is busier than usual," she said.
Engineering, planning, construction and law sectors were experiencing particular pain, she said.
When trying to fill roles in Tauranga, Burney said the biggest issue for recruiters was candidates receiving multiple offers and counteroffers.
"Good candidates may have two or three offers on the go at one time so moving quickly through compliance and putting a contract in front of them is essential."
Some candidates were using job offers as a "bargaining tool" with their current employer.
In a "candidate-led" market, she said employers needed to understand they had to sell their business to candidates - rather than the other way around.
Specific technical roles were taking especially long to fill.
Data from both Trade Me and Seek show job listings in the Bay of Plenty increased in the September quarter.
Trade Me reported listings in the region were up 43 per cent compared to the same period in 2020.
The biggest increases were in customer service, government and council, sales, manufacturing and operations, IT and retail categories.
Seek's employment report for September shows job listings in the region had increased by 9 per cent month-on-month and 41 per cent compared to pre-Covid figures in 2019.
Ministry of Social Development figures for the quarter ending in June, the latest available, showed 4830 people in Tauranga were on a Jobseeker Support benefit.
Graham Rodgers of Success Group Ltd said some employers were offering "sign-on bonuses" to help place prospective employees into roles.
He said last year the company had candidates contact them for work, and used regular workers on an "ongoing basis" for temporary work.
But now they had to "go out and find people" - using a range of platforms to advertise jobs.
A lack of work ethic in some staff and pre-qualifiers such as drug testing were putting "increased pressure" on employers and recruiters trying to fill jobs.
Rodgers said one Tauranga labourer on $24 an hour was offered a $500 cash bonus if he stayed in the role for the entire week - but did not show up for work the next day.
And a civil contractor in Tauranga had contacted Rodgers last week asking for eight staff as he had lost four after doing a "random" drug test.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the local job market was "tight" for employers - particularly when trying to find the "right person with the right skills".
He said it was taking business between three to six months on average to fill vacancies, especially for skilled or semi-skilled roles.
Increased pressure on some job sectors, such as construction, was due to Tauranga's population continuing to grow during the pandemic.
Asked about the biggest issues employers were facing when trying to fill vacancies, Cowley said it was the housing shortage in Tauranga.
"Businesses want to help their new employees to move their families here, but find the housing shortage a difficult barrier to overcome."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt believed the job market would be "very much in favour of employees for the foreseeable future".
"Recent changes to immigration policies will help a little, but we expect businesses to have a tough ride ahead in getting staff."
In Rotorua, Top Staff Solutions managing director Kirsten Bangs said more applicants were coming forward for specialised jobs than entry-level roles.
"I have never seen it before in my whole career," she said.
"We just can't get people to pursue a career and start at the bottom of the food chain," she said.
Vacancies for skilled jobs were "historically really hard to fill", she said.
"I have a client offering 50 hours a week at $23 an hour and we just can't get someone to do it [water blasting]."
There were also "more jobs than candidates" in Rotorua, which was putting increased pressure on employers and recruiters.