Re-educating in Negotiations: Insider Tech Tips

In our latest insider tech tips interview, we sat down with Lisa Miller, an Account Manager at Peoplebank, to gain valuable insights into the current employment market trends and her advice for both hiring managers and candidates navigating the dynamic IT and Digital talent industry.

Labour Market Insights 2024

Lisa, who initially started at Peoplebank in New South Wales as a specialist recruiter in the project services vertical, shed light on the recent transformations in the recruitment landscape. Over the past year, she observed a peculiar shift. For the first six months, the industry felt the growing pains of a post-covid world, experiencing a contradictory combination of clients making downward adjustments in rates, candidates seeking pay rises or extensions on their existing rates, a heightened desire for a five-day work-from-home arrangement among candidates, and an increased demand from clients for tailored talent who will work fully from the office. Thankfully, in the last six months of 2023, expectations from both client and candidate have levelled, with the majority ending up on the same page as we adjust to the ‘new normal’.

This dynamic scenario initially led to more intense negotiations during the final stages of placement. Recruitment professionals and Account Managers like Lisa are now taking on a larger role in mediation to find common ground on hybrid working and fair rates. The pandemic has prompted a re-education process for both candidates and employers in negotiations, with rates and hybrid working becoming the most significant points of contention.

Lisa suggests that setting expectations in the early stages of the process avoids awkward negotiations once an offer has been made. By proactively addressing working arrangements initially, Lisa has been able to successfully negotiate benefits for candidates like: nine day fortnights, shifting of 'anchor days', and balance of office and work from home. Fully investigating and expressing these requirements means that Lisa and other Account Managers can advocate for a good middle ground for both candidates and clients.

Conflicts can arise when employers aim to sustain or reduce rates post-COVID, while candidates seek increased compensation, despite borders opening up to more overseas talent. Clients are also increasingly demanding IT professionals to be in the office for most of the week, while candidates at the executive level are comfortable with these arrangements, candidates at mid to junior levels are more inclined to prefer working from home full-time or part-time, unless offered a financial incentive. Lisa asserts appetites for in-office work can partially be anticipated by the skills level and specialisation required of a role. For example, high-profile leadership positions require interpersonal work that often needs to be completed face-to-face. Whereas for more technical roles, such as software developers, which do not require in-person communication, the request for a full-time office presence could result in push-back.

Quote Lisa Miller Account Manager Peoplebank

Lisa underscores the importance of reaching a compromise by identifying a middle ground where both parties can agree on a hybrid model with a two or three-day office presence. Additionally, she advocates for balancing the realities on both sides concerning recognised industry rates, with the Peoplebank salary guide serving as a valuable indicator in this negotiation process.

The demand for specific experience in particular projects and industries adds another layer of complexity to an already unique market. With both hiring managers and candidates raising their expectations, compromise becomes essential. A smaller talent pool further exacerbates the situation, as individuals are hesitant to leave their roles amid economic uncertainty and the reliable comfort in their current working conditions since the pandemic.

How to Negotiate the Job Offer in 2024

In this slow-moving and candidate-limited market, Lisa's advises candidates to highlight their desire for stability during interviews and consider the stability a set hybrid working model offers. Likewise, for clients, she emphasises the importance of selling the company and its stability to attract top talent in a competitive environment. And of course, as the tech employment landscape continues to evolve, finding common ground through compromise emerges as the key to success for both hiring managers and candidates in this uniquely conflicted industry.

Want to read more from our Insider Tech Tips series? Read these three tips for job hunters.