A Guide To Salary – Part 1

Salary is a critical factor in someone’s decision when they move position. It is usually the main component, alongside job title, that makes up a job offer.

In Asia in particular, salary is a major deciding factor for many clients when determining whether they will even interview someone. We are asked by most companies to provide a current and expected salary at the very first stage of an introduction.

Therefore handling the salary part of a job application is probably the main thing a candidate needs real guidance on. We have seen many instances where a candidate has not known the correct approach to take and in essence ruled themselves out of a job or even an interview. Often it won’t be until they have spoken to us that we can advise them that this is the reason company “X” didn’t come back to them. By then it is often too late.

This guide aims to give you some pointers to help you determine the best approach to take.

  • Be honest! The first and most critical thing to do is to be honest about your current salary level when asked. This may sound obvious but there are candidates who try to inflate their current level in order to achieve a higher potential offer. Many companies now ask for salary proof before they offer a candidate a position and we have seen instances where people have been tripped up at this stage in the process and not received an offer because they have not been totally open. If you feel undervalued in your current position that is fine – it is probably one of the reasons you are looking to move and hopefully get an uplift in doing so. But please do not attempt to hide the reality as it does come back to bite people in end!
  • Break things down – give detail. This is as important as being honest. You MUST break down your income into it’s different components. These are usually made up of a basic salary (before or after tax – you must state how you are paid currently), any guaranteed bonuses, any discretionary bonuses (see below), any housing or other allowances and any other monetary items that you receive as part of your contract. All of these things must be provable and do be prepared to provide companies with proof of these figures. We have lost count of the amount of times someone has said to us something like “I earn around “X” per year”. This amount needs to be exact and broken down as described above.
  • Don’t base your expectations on the wrong advice. Candidates will often come to us having benchmarked their current and therefore expected salary having come to a conclusion usually based on two sources:
    • What friends are getting elsewhere. Whilst it is tempting to compare yourself to your friends we find that people who base their expectations on this advice alone are usually those who have the most unrealistic expectations. Why? Most of the advice people get comes from friends who are in totally different roles making direct comparisons impossible. But because they are friends, their advice is often taken as reliable. Ultimately what a friend is earning, in a totally different situation, is irrelevant to what you can expect. Friends will also try to help you by suggesting you get as much as possible saying you should ask for “X” or “Y” – whilst they mean well, this advice is not the professional advice most people should be getting and in general should be avoided.
    • Online salary guides. It is perfectly natural to not know what you should be asking for as a salary. The first thing many people do is to search online to get an idea. This invariably leads people to salary guides – the vast majority of these are put together by recruiters. I will let you into a secret here. Most of these guides (not all) are put together by a junior consultant in the office who is asked to throw some rough numbers together for a print deadline. How do I know? I was once that junior consultant…the figures therefore are rough estimates and in the real world don’t actually mean anything. They don’t take into account many factors such as location or market conditions. All we have seen them do is add to the confusion surrounding expected salary.

We will finish this article in our post next Friday with Part 2 and our final bits of advice. 



One Response to A Guide To Salary – Part 1

  1. Pingback: A Guide To Salary – Part 2 | Ellicott Long's Blog

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