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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Why getting a 50 per cent pay rise isn’t always so awesome

Rio Goh

In an emerging and growing market like China, job opportunities are plentiful, while candidates are scarce and are understandably looking to benefit from this growth.

I often speak to front-office candidates who expect base salary increments of more than 50 per cent when they change roles. Some banks are actually willing to provide these raises to sales people, provided they bring in and increase revenue by 50 per cent within a short time frame.

The best case scenario if this happens is that the relationship manager is able to deliver on this revenue promise and it becomes a win-win situation for both parties.

However, the most likely scenario is that the candidate over-promises and high expectations are created. When the candidate then under-delivers and fails to meet revenue targets, both parties are disappointed.

Managing your salary expectations is therefore crucial to managing your career. The ultimate career entails a combination of learning, development, growth, promotions and being rewarded accordingly. Think of where you would like to be three to five years down the road and think of the steps needed to get there.

Would a one-time 50 per cent increment bring you more satisfaction, or a year-to-year increase of 10 to 15 per cent based on good performance and meeting your employer’s expectations?

Would your manager give you more time to perform if you join on reasonable and fair terms, or would you prefer your manager to get as much out of you within a year before disposing of you?

The answers to the above questions should be very obvious. It is all about trying to find that balance between what the market is willing to pay and how you perceive what your actual market value is or could be.

So you’ve accepted a job offer…

You have found a new position and are preparing to resign. A very well known phenomenon nowadays is the counter offer. A counter is a nightmare for all parties involved. It’s an action of despair from an employer’s point of view because it’s a reactive, last-minute decision.

From your perspective as a candidate, a counter can be a very emotional gesture, especially after many years of service and commitment. You need to consider all your options before deciding whether to accept one. Ask whether it was really necessary to resign in order to get a promotion and/or a salary increase? What if the counter offer is really attractive?

Based on previous scenarios and experience, trust is normally gone between the manager and the employee. Career development and growth over the next two to three years will be limited. Could you imagine your manager providing another counter offer next time? Most importantly, there was a reason why you wanted another job in the first place.

Ideally, before you even begin looking at other opportunities, ask yourself this: can I speak to my superior in order to improve my current situation? If the answer is no, then start your searching. If the answer is yes, then you should certainly talk to your manager.

In all scenarios, prevent yourself from burning any bridges. Resigning and moving on is nothing personal – it is a professional decision and you should try to ensure a smooth transition/notice period by being cooperative and helpful. What matters is closing off a career chapter and starting a new and exciting one.

Rio Goh, manager, Michael Page Financial Services

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