Job candidates need to know what they're worth and what salary they are willing to accept before they even begin to look for employment.
The days of haggling with an employer over a figure after being offered a job are gone.
Employers don't have the time and employees weighing up multiple opportunities don't appreciate being lowballed.
Absolute IT co-director and Auckland general manager Martin Barry says as a recruiter, they assess a candidate's market value first thing.
"As part of our initial interview process, we will establish an individual's current remuneration and benefits package if they have one and ask them what they're seeking," Barry says.
An employer's immediate response to a candidate's proposed salary is generally: "Well, let's interview them and see if they're worth it."
Job seekers can enter a recruitment process as "negotiable" but are expected to state their current salary first.
In the prestigious world of information technology, when an employer finds someone whose skills are in high demand they know other companies are seeking them as well.
"When you do get multiple situations, some employers will be prepared to offer a bit more than what the candidate is initially seeking."
Candidates who can command top dollar are the ones with the skills which are in demand. In IT that's software developers. "Those who have got the right skills are definitely able to achieve a premium, achieve multiple job offers and put themselves in a situation where they can look at those two or three offers they've got and decide what's the best fit for them."
Barry says a final salary will only vary maybe 3 to 5 per cent from the original figure discussed before the interview process. He says any more than that will likely be rejected.
"It really shouldn't get to that stage where someone is expecting that much more. A good recruitment process shouldn't allow that."
Employers are more likely to accept they can't compete in employing a candidate rather than engage in any sort of bidding war. Candidates can expect to increase their salary with a job change but Barry says to be realistic.
"If you're a junior programmer, you're not going to be the CEO of a software development company next week."
In IT, graduates can move from $45,000 to $80,000 in their first three to four years. Barry says other industries don't allow as fast a salary progression. Employment packages can include perks such as extra time off or superannuation. Superannuation is often set across the board at any one company and can't be negotiated individually.
Annual leave can be negotiated but Barry says that tends to be at the senior management levels.
But the most valued perk and the one employees can negotiate quite easily for is flexible working hours. An Absolute IT survey showed 30 per cent of employees have a flexible work arrangement. "That's almost double what's offered in Australia. It's one of the things that New Zealand employers are pretty good at providing."
Another win-win perk is career training and advancement. Despite the economic downturn, some companies are still issuing bonuses which can also be negotiated. Barry says a bonus of 5 to 10 per cent of base salary is common.
"Employers would be offering bonuses based on the overall company's performance generally."