Positive hiring intentions, skill shortages and a widening gap between candidate and employer salary expectations are the three market forces that look likely to combine to create a ‘perfect storm’ of salary pressure for sales & marketing talent in the year ahead, according to the 2011 Hays Salary Guide.

Out today, the 2011 Hays Salary Guide reveals that we are yet to see widespread salary increases despite positive hiring intentions and a shrinking talent pool, which has seen candidates start to move back into a position of power in the jobs market.

Against such a backdrop of subdued salary growth, Hays says this combination of pressure foints will fuel a forthcoming ‘perfect storm’ of salary pressure.

“The employment market over the past 12 months was dominated by low unemployment and increased job vacancies,” says Peter Noblet, regional director of Hays sales & marketing. “At the same time, candidate confidence has continued to grow and skillsshortages are now emerging in all of the sectors surveyed. According to our survey data, they are most prominent in accountancy & finance, followed by operations then sales & marketing.

“Looking ahead, 74 percent of organisations expect business activity to increase over the next 12 months. 52 percent of employers expect to increase permanent headcount in their sales department over the coming year, and 23 percent expect to increase their permanent headcount in their marketing department. Staff turnover has already increased in 31 percent of organisations.

But Noblet says the good times may not trickle down to better wages.

“But we are yet to see employers offer widespread salary increases,” he says. “Our survey data shows that 11 percent of employers didn't increase salaries at all over the past 12 months. 37 percent increased salaries by less than three percent and 43 percent increased salaries between three and six percent.”

Hays have, however, noticed commission based incentives are going up, and digital savvy employees are a prized asset.

“Looking ahead, oursurvey data shows that 44 percent of employers intend to increase salaries in their next review by between three and six percent, while six percent will offer increases above six percent,” Noblet says. “But 43 percent intend to increase salaries by less than three percent.

“Such low intentions are at odds with candidate expectations – particularly those of candidates in demand – and so we expect the gap between salary expectations to widen even further.”