Have you priced yourself out of the job market?
Money, money, money. At the end of the day, this is what it comes down to for the majority of talent out there.
“But that’s the way it should be,” you say. “I am looking for the best job that pays me the most amount of money, right?”
Yes and no. While salary, bonuses and other cash incentives are no doubt important in your decision making, it really shouldn’t be the main reason you take a job, or decide to quit a job. Instead, you should be looking at long-term objectives, your professional development, and how you can maneuver your career to really make a difference to the company you work for. This, in turn, might get you a pay rise (and make you feel pretty good about yourself!)
The problem some candidates are finding in certain sectors across Southeast Asia - particularly in banking and finance, and oil and gas, for example - is that the salaries just aren’t what they used to be. At a senior level, you can still earn good money, but the state of the economy is reflected in these industries, and top dollar isn’t quite what you expected.
This means some job seekers are finding themselves priced out of the market. Their salary history makes them too expensive to hire, and they’re not willing to take a pay cut to stay in the line of work they enjoy.
So what can you do?
Firstly, if this is the case for you, find out why the company you are interviewing with is using salary as a screen. They may not have the budget to hire you at your current salary, but there could be other factors at play, too. Perhaps they’re about to go through a restructure and know that your salary might be hard to justify, or - as is often the case - your salary history just isn’t reflective of the current market. While this isn’t your fault, it’s something you need to address.
This is where you sometimes need a healthy dose of reality.
The salary being offered to you is targeted for that specific role, and is often not hugely flexible. Remember that the amount you are being offered is for the role you perform, not for you. Essentially, you still need to prove yourself to your new employer - and if you can do that, then you will find yourself in a good position to negotiate a higher base wage.
To manage this, make sure you’re upfront during the interview process. Let your employer know the salary being offered is less than you expected, and you believe you should be getting X amount, but then negotiate terms that will allow for a review in three or six months, or one year, that is tied directly to salary.
Work with your direct manager to set specific goals and KPIs, that when reached result in reward. This gives both you and your boss a clear view of both your growing competencies and salary expectations.
Salary is no doubt an important consideration, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. Take note of what else a company offers - what’s the culture like? Do they have flexible working arrangements? What perks do they offer, and what is their retention rate like?
These factors will tell you a lot about a business and the overall experience you will have working there, which, when you boil it down, is the most important thing for a healthy, sustainable career in any field.