Nearly a third of hiring managers say jobseekers' pay expectations are higher than market rates, according to research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half.

The survey of 300 hiring managers found 30 per cent said job applicants' expectations for remuneration were higher than current market rates, with 65 per cent in line and 5 per cent below average compensation rates.

However, in an encouraging sign for skilled jobseekers looking to negotiate higher starting salaries, 84 per cent of hiring managers willing to raise the initially-planned starting pay by an average of 10 per cent to secure top professionals, the company said.

Annual wage growth in the December quarter was 1.8 per cent.

Robert Half New Zealand general manager Megan Alexander said in a market characterised by a rising cost of living and static wage growth, many professionals were eager to negotiate an above-average starting salary.

"And with employers willing to entice job applicants with a salary in line with or even above market rates, professionals would benefit from staying abreast of what the skills in demand are in their sector and keeping their competencies up to date, making them an in-demand candidate," Alexander said.

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"Jobseekers should always try to negotiate a competitive starting salary, and even if the offered salary doesn't meet their expectations, it's perfectly acceptable and common to request additional non-financial incentives such as additional leave and flexibility," she said.

"Also, it's important for jobseekers to look at the full picture when evaluating a job offer as their dream job could offer a generous benefits package or opportunities to learn and grow with the company, which may compensate for a lower starting salary."

Timing was essential for salary negotiations.

"When the employer initiates salary discussions, to gain an advantage at the negotiating table, professionals should benchmark their current salary, experience and skill level by using industry tools, such as a salary guide, to determine their market value."

The research found 42 per cent of hiring managers said the most appropriate time for jobseekers to discuss salary was during the first interview, 24 per cent cited the second interview, 19 per cent the final interview or offer stage, 11 per cent when a candidate submitted their CV and 5 per cent said never as salary discussions should always be initiated by the company.

By the numbers

• 30 per cent of hiring managers say jobseekers' expectations for remuneration are higher than local market rates.

• 84 per cent are willing to raise the initially-planned starting salary by an average of 10 per cent to secure top talent.

• 42 per cent say the most appropriate time for jobseekers to discuss salary is during the first interview.