5 Things Job-Seeking Singaporeans Should Negotiate Besides Salary

Ryan Ong

Ryan Ong

Last updated 29 July, 2015
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >5 Things Job-Seeking Singaporeans Should Negotiate Besides Salary</span>

A high salary is great, but Singaporean job-seekers should try to get these benefits too.

To save more money, you need to earn more money. And the quickest way to do that is to get a job with a good salary.

In fact, there’s a good chance that if a salary can't cover our expenses, we might not even want the job. The exception is for new graduates who are just starting out - you need to pay your dues before earning what you think you deserve.

The fact is, a job is a way to make a living. And to do that well, it should provide more than a monthly cheque.

Before you sign the contract, you should also look at:

1. The Amount of Work

Think you can’t negotiate the amount of work? You’d be wrong.

One of the main problems faced by employees is “workload creep”--this happens when your job scope is poorly defined, and you end up doing everything from sales reports to tending the building’s lawn.

This isn’t just an issue of having to work harder; it’s a financial consideration. When your job expands to fill all your time, your opportunities for side-income or additional training become limited. In fact, it’s common for people to be stuck at a particularly job or pay level because they have no time for career or wealth development.

So do negotiate your amount of work, by discussing your exact job scope with your employer. Get it in writing, so you can refer back to it if your extra duties become too much.

2. Transport Allowances

If you live in, say, Pasir Ris and the office is in Choa Chu Kang, you can’t afford to be quiet about transport allowance.

Assuming $2.10 per trip, with a five day week, that’s $82 a month. Over the course of five or 10 years, investing or saving that money can make a big difference to your life, so don’t be too shy to at least broach the question.

Also, check the job description carefully and ask what each aspect entails. You may find that the work requires more travelling than expected, which makes transport claims important.

3. Insurance Benefits

Some employers offer much better insurance benefits than others. This is an important consideration in some jobs, particularly if it involves driving or intense physical labour.

One simple way to compare insurance benefits is to ask for a copy of the contract, and show it to your existing financial adviser. They will often be able to tell you how will it complements your existing policy.

4. Training Opportunities

Ask about the job’s Route of Advancement (RoA), and opportunities for promotion. From here, you will know what sort of additional training is useful.

Don’t forget that many companies can sponsor your education, for anything from basic certification to degree courses. If you still intend to study, these options may outweigh a few hundred dollars difference in salaries.

Be wary of companies that claim you won’t need any training courses. They may see you as a short term hire, or as someone to fill a dead end job.

5. Maternity or Paternity Leave

This is critical for new or soon to be parents. We know you need money more than ever, but remember that time is going to be just as valuable. There’s no point settling for a high paying job, only to lose it because you need to devote time to your newborn.

If the company’s maternity or paternity leave doesn’t seem sufficient, do press the point and try to negotiate. An employer who values you will try to be flexible about this.

6. Your Job Title

This costs the employer nothing, and makes a huge difference in your portfolio. It is especially important if this is your first job, or you intend to work at the company for a limited time.

Instead of “marketing assistant”, for example, try to ask if they’re okay with “marketing executive”. If you are getting a position where you're in charge of more than one person, ask if you can be given a leadership label (e.g. “Head of data analytics” instead of “Data analytics team co-ordinator). These titles can make a big difference in your resume.

7. Severance Pay Packages

If you intend to work at the company for a long time, you need to be wary of severance pay issues. What happens if you have to be retrenched, or if the company decides to move to Hong Kong without your department?

You will want to ensure that the severance pay will keep you comfortable for two to three months, while you look for another job. You should also look at the terms and conditions under which your severance pay kicks in--some less ethical employers will do everything in their power to get rid of you without due compensation.

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Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.


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