Formal education may give us a leg up in life and career, but less so on managing money. School Didn’t Teach Me, a SingSaver series, is your informal education in personal finance.
Job interviews and salary negotiation can be uncomfortable and difficult, especially for introverts. Here’s a guide to help overcome the anxiety, and get the pay you want.
There’s no doubt that going to school is important. However, once you’re out in the workforce, you’ll realise that school doesn’t exactly teach you the necessary skills needed to thrive in life, such as financial literacy (unless you count the subject POA), investing, insurance, and the most important of them all — salary negotiation.
Negotiating your salary after getting a job is daunting to many, but especially so for introverts.
Imagine this: After going through five interviews, you’re finally selected for the job. However, you’re certain that you’re worth more than what’s being offered.
You schedule a meeting with your potential boss to discuss your salary, and on the day of the meeting the panic and nerves start to set in. You let out an incoherent chain of words, your brain stops working, and you feel like the world’s biggest clown. You pray that you will somehow manage to get your point across without screwing up your sole chance to negotiate the paycheck you deserve.
Sounds familiar? Well, you’re not alone. If the idea of discussing your pay or asking for a raise induces panic in you, you’re in the right place. Here’s a guide for introverts to help overcome the anxiety, and get the pay you want.
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Is it legal for companies to ask about your last-drawn salary in Singapore?
Yes, and don’t lie about it, because your company will most likely request proof of your last payslip when you sign the contract.
However, you are under no obligation to reveal your last drawn salary during the interview, and your prospective employers cannot insist on it. While they will find out eventually, you don’t have to give them a figure at that stage. You just need to learn how to navigate the conversation around that topic. Here’s how:
Before the interview
Do your research
School’s out and work’s in, but there’s still homework to do. Find what you can about the average salary of your position online, including websites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn and MyCareersFuture Singapore. If you have friends in the same industry, you can also ask them about their pay.
Know your value
If you’ve been in the industry for a couple of years, you’ll most likely be able to determine the appropriate salary range for your position. Decide in advance what pay range is acceptable or unacceptable for the amount of experience and skills that you have, and don’t lowball yourself just because they say they have a budget and can only afford to pay you a low salary. Your paycheck, like many other things in life, is negotiable. Be prepared to walk away if the employer’s final offer is unacceptable to you.
Rehearse the negotiating session with a friend or family member or a close colleague
For people who are especially antsy about ‘official’ things like this, it’s best to rehearse it with someone who is good at ‘counter-attacking’ you and providing feedback so that you do not get thrown off ifit happens during the interview.
Play to your strengths, and get used to selling yourself
I understand that selling yourself may be difficult for introverts who hate blowing their own trumpet, but the truth is, you’ve got to market yourself as the best candidate in the pool of interviewees. There’s no way around this — you’ve just got to toughen up your skin and tell the hiring manager about everything you’ve achieved, as well as the skills and experience that you have that make you the best hire.
During the interview
Your employer will typically ask about your salary expectations during the interview. Here’s what you can do:
Deflect the question
When asked about your expected salary, tell the interviewer that more can be discussed after you’ve been confirmed for the job. If they really insist, give them a wide range instead of a specific number. Remember, whoever gives out a number first loses.
The reason why I do not recommend disclosing your salary history is because it puts you at risk of being undervalued. Also, be aware that they might try to sneakily insert a ‘last drawn salary’ question in your pre-interview questionnaire, so remember to leave that blank too.
There are many ways to answer when asked about your current salary, so here are some examples of a question that may be asked and how you can answer them:
Interviewer: “Where are you right now in terms of salary and what are you looking for?”
Answer #1: “I’m not very comfortable with sharing that information. I would prefer to focus on the value I can bring to this company instead.”
Answer #2: “There is no set expectation on my end, and the pay is always negotiable. With my skills and experience, I believe that your company will compensate me fairly.”
Questions to ask when negotiating your salary
As much as you can, ask open-ended questions to find out more information.
- When they ask you for your expected salary, ask them about the average range that they’re currently paying for your position
- Ask about employee benefits and bonuses to justify the offer
- It’s possible that your pay can’t be raised any more because they are already giving you a salary that’s at the top of their range for the position. However, you can still negotiate other parts of your employee compensation package such as paid time off, company perks, welfare and other expenses
- Find out if there are any opportunities to increase your salary in the future
- Ask your employer how raises are determined
These questions are important, but remember not to make it sound like you’re only all about the money. All the best!
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By Kendra Tan
Avid promo code hunter and haggler. Kendra doesn’t like paying full price for anything. She’s the best person to bring along if you’re travelling on a budget. Have an interesting story to tell? E-mail her at email@example.com