Skilled workers are in pole position and can expect pay increases in the coming year as businesses scramble to retain and recruit staff.
According to Robert Walters New Zealand's latest salary survey, over 80 per cent of employees are confident of "plentiful" job opportunities in 2018, driven by a thriving economy and large government project roll-outs.
Last year salaries rose for nearly 60 per cent of professionals and, according to the recruitment consultancy's survey, 74 per cent expected a bump this year.
While this was indicative of a strong economy, Robert Walters country manager Shay Peters warned businesses would struggle to grow to their full potential with such stiff competition to get staff.
The survey's findings, along with the Labour-led Government's intention of more stringent immigration laws, could potentially have a "significant impact" on the country's growth industries, particularly in the IT sector, he said.
"The feedback from employers... is that there is an increasing lack of highly skilled candidates. This, coupled with the Government indicating a tightening of the immigration policy, poses a real concern for businesses."
However, the fallout from Brexit, combined with perceived political instability in the United States, was making returning to New Zealand an increasingly attractive option for many Kiwis living abroad.
This may help ease pressure in some sectors but Peters said it would not be enough to address the skills shortage.
There had not been a job market like this since prior to the Global Financial Crisis of 2007 and 2008, he said.
As a result, salaries would increase for many professionals, leaving some in a powerful position to negotiate with their employers.
"Those professionals with skills in particularly high demand will receive substantial increases," Peters said.
The professions likely to be in line for the biggest salary rises in 2018 were legal, accountancy and information technology.
Employers would have to work hard to retain their best staff by offering benefits such as flexible working conditions or health and wellbeing programmes.
"Just over 30 per cent of professionals we surveyed want to move out of their current roles for career progression so employers need to make sure they are making career development of current staff a priority."
Nearly 80 per cent of professionals surveyed expected to look for a new role in the next one to two years while over 30 per cent were already looking for a new job.
Based on actual work placements made by Robert Walters, the survey was completed by 500 people across a range of professions. The respondents were an even split of men and women with 51 per cent based in Wellington and 47 per cent in Auckland.