Recruiters are picking the end of the Rugby World Cup will result in a rise in availability of IT workers.
In its latest quarterly report, recruitment firm Robert Walters said there was a noticeable softening at the start of the Cup, which could be seen through the decline in the number of applicants responding to online advertisements.
The quarter started strongly, with particular demand for contract staff across all IT disciplines - especially experienced business analysts.
Robert Walters said capital spending in the public sector and a number of large transformation programmes translated to contract opportunities for experienced business analysts and project managers.
"If they can do both, they are particularly in demand," says IT specialist Tom Derbyshire.
He says as well as work still coming from Auckland Council's rebuilding of the region's local government systems, many large corporates decided this financial year was the time to start replacing systems.
"They are finally biting the bullet," he says. "Those are huge programmes of work. The other issue driving demand is Christchurch. A lot of insurance companies have developed new policies and procedures because of what they've learned from the earthquake, and that means rewriting their systems.
"It calls for a mix of technology and business, so there is a lot of demand for people with business analysis and business process re-engineering skills."
Derbyshire says clients have to make recruitment decisions fast or risk losing quality candidates. Contractors are looking for roles that take them through the general election and Christmas period rather than short-term jobs.
Key technologies sought in the Auckland market include storage area networking and Microsoft SharePoint and .net version 4 skills.
Demand for IT security is also on the increase, as New Zealand is becoming more aware of pending laws relating to loss of customers' data to cyber-criminals.
In the public sector, Robert Walters' Wellington office is picking a likely second term for National will mean more mergers of government departments and agencies, and a clear "all-of-government" strategy.
Derbyshire says the prospect that a centralised government recruitment panel will be created next year will change the recruitment marketplace.
Permanent pay levels have been flat or just on inflation over the past two years, especially in the public sector. However, contract rates in high-demand areas have started to increase by 10 to 15 per cent.
Derbyshire says an experienced business analyst can expect a contract rate of $85 to $90 an hour, up from $70 to $75 a couple of years ago.
Highly skilled business analysts with enterprise-level consulting experience, enterprise architects and solutions architects with Oracle were most likely to receive premium pay rates throughout the last quarter.
Derbyshire is expecting upward pressure on rates next year, especially as people focus on career development.
"No one wants to sidestep into roles - shift employers for the same salary," he says. "There has to be something more in it."
With a shortage of candidates in the market, firms are looking offshore for talent.
Robert Walters has traditionally used information seminars to bring highly skilled migrants and Kiwi expatriates back to New Zealand.
International development manager Lucy Nichols says it's sending invites now for three seminars in London next month, where candidates will get up-to-date information on the New Zealand employment market from managers from the Auckland and Wellington offices.
Nichols says Robert Walters first set up the business in 1985, placing contractors into London, and found many of his best candidates came from Australasia.
Setting up a New Zealand office in 1997 was a way to complete the cycle by placing candidates on their return from overseas, and the international focus has continued.
"We view it as an international candidate pipeline, so we have a network of international career advisers," Nichols says.
"We place a lot of professionals in the Auckland market who subsequently go off on an OE.
"When they go to places like London, we keep close tabs on them. We keep in touch and tell them about the local market, so when they are ready to go home, we can invite them to these seminars."
Nichols says the 60 people who will attend next month's seminars will have definite plans to return to or migrate to New Zealand in the next three to six months.
"The last thing we want to do is over-promise. We only want people there we can genuinely promise will find work."
Going on past seminars, about 80 per cent will be expatriates and the rest migrants.
"We will give them New Zealand food and wine and talk about live jobs we are recruiting for in the Auckland and Wellington markets."
Video-conferencing facilities mean any subsequent job interviews can be done at the Robert Walters' office or through Skype.
"The overall feeling I got from doing the seminars in June was people have realistic ideas and salary expectations about ... New Zealand," Nichols says.
"The majority, if it's not that their visa is about to expire, will have been in the UK for a few years and some milestone is coming up, like they're getting married or having a family, so they're getting ready to come home. In their minds they have made the mental shift."
She says the prospect of taking on more complex and challenging jobs is also a catalyst.
"The economies of scale in New Zealand mean certain jobs have a greater remit. In London, they may be someone's assistant in a specialised role. Here they may fulfil several functions, so they gain a greater cross-section of experience.
"The landscape has changed too in terms of exchange rates, so the disparity in salaries isn't as great as it was."
What those people are likely to bring back to New Zealand, which appeals to local employers, is experience working at an enterprise level on really big projects and using the latest technologies.