There are many ways that a company can go about recognising the work of its employees. It can be done in the form of promotions or even special rewards for jobs well done. And while these are certainly welcoming from an employee’s point of view, most of them will also agree that, when it comes to recognition, few things mean more than a raise — and our Talent Trends 2021 report echoes that sentiment as well.

According to our survey, 80% of respondents cited remuneration and benefits as the top consideration when accepting job offers. On top of that, depending on the industry, employers, too, are ready to increase the average salaries in 2021.

Despite the economic contraction in Hong Kong, estimated to be between 5–7%, 40% of our surveyed employers intend to increase their salaries. For new hires in industries such as banking, financial services and e-commerce, you can even expect anywhere between 10% and 15% in terms of remuneration increase. 

Ahead, we will explore how employees and job applicants alike can evaluate their worth as contributors to the company, as well as how they can negotiate for the salary they deserve, be it during job interviews or the annual appraisal.

Learning to be a negotiator

Not everyone is a born negotiator. Just like how price-bargaining is an acquired skill, salary negotiation, too, requires a very different mindset. Most candidates do a less-than-desirable job when it comes to negotiating for a higher salary.

Instead of settling for the first salary amount put on the table, try some of the following tips and tricks to increase the offer.

1. Do your homework

Just because the salary offered feels like it is enough to cover your expenses doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the industry norm. As such, it is critical to do your research and know what your role is worth before you step into the interview and negotiate for a higher salary.

One way to do so is via our annual Salary Comparison Tool. This tool offers a comprehensive wage overview of all major sectors in various markets, the key roles and functions, and their respective salary estimates. With this information, you would be able to calculate the average salary range based on your sector, location and work experience.

If that is not enough, you can also take your research a step further by simply talking to people in the industry. It could be someone already in the industry or even a recruitment consultant. With all the desk research in mind, you will be able to enter a salary negotiation with more confidence, especially with all the hard data to back you up.

2. Know your value

Your value to the organisation is sometimes more than just the position that you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for the role as a senior marketing manager with 10 years of experience already under your belt, you are going to be able to command a certain amount of salary.

However, if you are applying for the same role with the same industry experience, but with added bonuses of entrepreneurial background and experience in Search Engine Optimisation, then you are going to be bringing a lot of extra skill sets and value to the table. Furthermore, if you know for a fact that the company you are applying for does not have, say, an SEO-driven content marketing strategy, then your knowledge in that area is suddenly going to be worth a whole lot more.

As you can see, even though the job titles are the same, the difference is quite stark, to say the least. These peripheral skills you have developed over the years will allow you to take the industry standard when it comes to salary and increase it. Finally, it is always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the industry, find out the most in-demand skills and bank on those during your negotiation.

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3. Ignore your previous salary

One mistake that many job candidates make is to base your salary negotiations on your last drawn salary. While it is always better to earn more than your previous job, using your last drawn salary as a yardstick is by no means a good gauge.

Unless you feel that you have gained zero skill since your last job, ignore your previous salary altogether. Instead, look at your objective value to the company and compare that to the industry standard that everybody else is getting.

It is also not uncommon for job descriptions to require candidates to submit their previous salary. It is a good idea to ignore that or reserve the discussion for the interview itself. Revealing the amount even before the interview will put you at a severe disadvantage.

4. Think beyond your base salary 

Calling it ‘salary negotiation’ is, admittedly, not accurate, since you are actually negotiating more than just the base dollar value. Aside from the salary, you are looking at the basic benefits that come along with your employment.

For example, the salary on offer might be lower than the value you have in your head. However, the benefits that come along with the salary might actually be attractive and more than make up for the balance. As a candidate, you want to take these additional benefits into consideration when negotiating for a raise.

If the salary on offer isn’t enough, perhaps you can negotiate for other benefits, such as better health plans, flexible work arrangement, additional leave, training opportunities, etc. And while we are on the point, don’t be limited by your imagination, either. There are plenty of benefits beyond the conventional, from tuition assistance to free coffee. Just remember: this is a business transaction, and everything is negotiable.

5. Hope for the best, but expect the worst

When you are negotiating your salary, a good idea is to give an amount on the higher end and, mentally, work your way down from there. If the higher offer is accepted, then it is good news for everybody. If it is rejected, adjust accordingly and try again. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Rejection just means you need to recalibrate and renegotiate, and if the company cannot appreciate what you can potentially bring to the table, at least you know to take your expertise someplace else. Remember: if you don’t ask for a pay raise, you are likely not going to get it; if you do ask for a pay raise, there is at least a chance that you might just get one.

At the end of the day, there are no real guarantees in salary negotiations. Beyond the value you can potentially bring to the company, there are many considerations to be had from the employer, HR point of view and also factors, such as tight budgets and even tighter competitions. With that said, if you don’t even attempt at salary negotiation, then you are doing yourself a great disservice in the long run. So do your research, enter a negotiation and take the conversation on from there.

Ready to make your next career move? Get in touch

Read more:
Highest Paying Jobs in Hong Kong for 2021

7 crucial skills to adapt to the new future of work
Lost a job? Your guide to upskilling after retrenchment

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