Careers advice

Why now is the perfect time to look for a new job and top tips to negotiate your contract

The job market remains tight this summer, so it's a great time to consider negotiating your contract.

With a drum-tight labour market, the power remains firmly in the hands of job seekers this summer, making now the perfect time for those with itchy feet in the office to make their move. 

Data from a Trade Me Jobs survey in April 2022 shows up to 7 in 10 Kiwis are planning to leave their jobs within the next two years, with nearly a fifth of respondents planning to leave within 12 months. 

And for those who take the plunge, greener pastures could await them as persistent unmet demand for workers across most industries in the post-covid economy has forced businesses to up their offerings to attract talent. 

"The demand for roles is still at a record high," says Trade Me Jobs Sales Manager Tim Stark. 

"We've had employers who basically are starving for good candidates and that just makes it an amazing time to have a look and see what other options are out there." 

However the current trends won't last forever so Newshub and Trade Me Jobs have teamed up to bring you a guide to help you should strike while the job market is hot and how to negotiate the perfect contract for your dream job.

Why now is time to look

As immigration numbers climb along with local job hunters entering the market, demand for candidates will cool and the power balance will swing back in favour of employers, giving you less leverage when it comes time to negotiate. "It's about getting in now before others do," says Tim. 

"This is kind of like that golden zone where demand is really high, supply is still tight, but the tightness is decreasing. So from the candidate's perspective, it's time to browse and get out there in the market." 

"Businesses are now thinking: What do we do for our staff ? What can we offer? So interesting stuff like gym memberships being offered, wellness days, extra leave birthdays off etc." 

And on top of a higher likelihood of extra perks, a tight labour market ironically leads to more flexible employers, willing to take on a candidate who might not fit all of their listed criteria. "Historically maybe people would have been hired for the perfect fit, whereas now employers are going, well, you know, this person's got 70 percent of what we're after and we can train the rest, '' says Tim. 

But what happens once you've made your move, gotten through the selection process and have an offer on the table? You might be tempted to sign immediately and start celebrating but you've got one crucial step left.

Better work perks are being offered in this labour-tight market.

How to negotiate your contract

First and foremost: You won't know what you're looking for in a contract if you don't have a clear idea why you're job seeking in the first place. 

"One of the things that's most important is to be honest with yourself - what is your reason for moving? What is it that you want and what did you like with what you had? What are your deal breakers? Write all that stuff down," advises Tim. 

Once you're clear-eyed about your wants and needs, it's time to get a good understanding of the range of options on offer across the sector for your desired role. 

"If you're at a negotiation stage, you should probably read a decent number of job application job ads," says Tim. 

Once you've got a fair idea of what everyone's offering and what's in the market, you'll establish a baseline before you even go in to talk with your potential new employer. 

So, armed with knowledge and with an offer, you're finally ready to negotiate. If there is an element of the job that you aren't happy with, remember you absolutely have the right to raise it. 

Respectfully requesting a change to the contract might feel worrying, particularly to the conflict avoidant, but remember - the worst that can happen is they say no.

"If you don't ask, you're already telling yourself no. If you don't ask, you'll never get," says Tim.

It's important to read multiple job ads, so you're aware of what's going on in the market.

But be prepared to hear no. Since you've gone in prepared with your redlines, knowledge of the industry and most desired perks, you'll know what you are willing to compromise ahead of time. 

"This is an open and honest conversation that you were going to have with the employer. It's about what you are looking for, but also what you are bringing to the table. In all negotiations, it's a give and take. You may not get every single thing that you want," Tim says. 

"They may come to you with an offer and the key is: don't take offense, don't take it personally. This is just an offer and you can always go back to them." 

And while it might seem obvious, remember to always read the contract carefully. Some people only give their contract a passing inspection - particularly if they're already over the moon about a role or feel like they have no other option but to accept. Don't rush to sign, remember, once you do it's going to become a lot more difficult to change the contract. 

Tim warns that if you are in a position where you have to say yes, it's hardly a negotiation. 

"Don't put yourself into a situation where you're trying to negotiate with only one party. I would ideally have a couple of similarly attractive positions that you want to go for and then you negotiate. I'm not saying play them all off against each other but ensure you've got options." 

As for those still on the fence about leaving their current role, Tim says there'll never be a better time to change than now. 

"Make hay while the sun shines! It's still going to be a reasonably good environment for candidates going forward but we are going to start to see that pendulum swing back toward employers… There's no harm in looking and you're better off knowing what's out there and what your options are, than to sit back and wait." 

Article originally posted on Newshub.

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