In Singapore’s skills-short market, employers are having to work hard to attract and retain top talent. A natural consequence of this is that salaries for in-demand roles are trending higher. Across finance, accounting, and IT for instance, salaries have risen 5% to 7% over the past year.
Nonetheless, higher salaries don’t happen by chance. If you’re hoping to enjoy a salary uptick it pays to take action. Here are nine ways to drive your salary higher.
1) Know your market value
When it comes to earning a higher salary, knowledge is power. Understanding your market value should underpin any strategies to increase your salary.
Skip the water cooler discussions around coworkers’ earnings, and focus on what your skills and experience are really worth in the current job market.
Arm yourself with information. Research online, speak with recruitment professionals and review Salary Guides that will provide an accurate figure for your skills, experience and industry. This is your launch pad for conversations around remuneration – be they with a new employer or your current manager.
2) Get your salary right from the start
Money tends to be a taboo topic. So, it’s not surprising that discomfort often accompanies discussions around salary, especially during job interviews when tensions are riding high.
The thing is, salary negotiations are especially critical at this stage. If you’re not completely happy with your starting salary you could face a lengthy catch-up process. Or worse, find that discontent sees you looking for a new role not long after joining the company.
According to independent research by Robert Half, the vast majority (95%) of financial services employers are willing to raise initially planned starting salaries by an average of 10% to secure the right candidate. This puts you in a favourable position to negotiate a higher starting salary, particularly when applying for an in-demand role or offer need-to-have skills to the market.
Timing is critical though. You need to display suitability for the role and be sure the job is right for you before mentioning money. When you’re confident the company is interested, it’s time to get serious about salary discussions.
3) Emphasize experience
When it comes to starting salaries, experience can trump education. This is especially the case in Singapore’s booming IT market, which is characterized by a noteworthy demand/supply imbalance of experienced professionals.
As a guide to the most in-demand experience, six out of ten (63%) Singaporean CIOs say they would be willing to pay a higher starting salary to IT professionals with previous project experience. Other areas of experience in hot demand include the launch of new products or services, and team leadership.
If your resume is light on this sort of experience, this is your cue to raise a hand to become involved in special projects that can embellish your CV.
4) Be prepared to negotiate
If you’re keen to secure a better starting salary offer, be prepared to ask for it.
All too often jobseekers accept the first salary that’s offered. The key is having the knowledge and confidence to ask for a higher salary offer with a potential employer.
Many companies set starting salaries as a range, often expecting a variance of 5-10%. It’s easy enough to gauge if there’s some wiggle room.
Try enquiring: “I had hoped for something in the vicinity of [specific amount]. Is that possible?”
The hiring manager’s response will let you know if there’s scope for a salary uptick.
5) Ask your manager for a pay rise
It’s one thing to set a strong salary at the start of a new role. But what if you are hoping for a salary increase in your current role?
Asking your manager for a pay rise is often daunting. But it can elicit the results you’re looking for.
Research outside of Singapore shows that while few employees feel confident approaching their employer for a pay rise, among the 12% who do, 75% achieved their goal.
The trick is to approach the issue with sensitivity. Pay rises aren’t handed out simply because you’ve been with the company for a long time. Rather, they need to be earned, and that makes it critical to build a strong case for why you deserve a higher salary.
Consider your own professional development: Where are you today compared to, say, 12 months ago? Have your skills and experience increased? Are you taking on responsibility for tasks that are outside your job description? Are you adding value by training or mentoring junior colleagues?
A useful strategy to strengthen your argument for a salary increase is to quantify the value you bring to the company. You may have cut the time taken to prepare monthly reports by 10%.
Perhaps you have consistently achieved an outstanding customer satisfaction rating. Whatever the case, note down in writing specific examples of how you have contributed to the company’s success. Being able to clearly articulate how you add value to your employer adds real weight to your request for a higher salary.
6) Upskill to remain relevant
Today’s workplace is fast-moving, with new technologies emerging every day. Already, 86% of Singapore’s CFOs are planning to implement artificial intelligence programs within their organisation.
Digital disruption is something no professional can afford to ignore. Financial professionals for example, can expect to increasingly move away from task-based roles to focus more on processing and generating the information needed for corporate decision making.
The good news is that rapidly advancing technology can also create valuable opportunities to lift your salary. But it does mean being prepared to continually upskill to meet the rapidly evolving needs of employers.
The hot new skills required by finance professionals with the onset of digitization in the workplace include data analysis (51%), financial reporting and analysis (38%), and data forecasting (35%).
The most in-demand finance roles utilized these skills, including financial planning and analysis managers, finance managers, and tax managers.
In the tech sector, the top in-demand roles are cyber-security analysts, technology risk managers, data scientists and data managers.
7) Nurture your soft skills
Technical expertise matters. But don’t neglect soft skills.
Soft skills can be instrumental in climbing the career ladder and helping you earn a bigger salary. After all, these are the skills that can see you build influence across an organization and provide remunerable value to an employer.
Strong communication skills are particularly valuable as they let you engage effectively with a diverse range of internal and external stakeholders.
8) Consider moving on
Staying in a role waiting for more senior colleagues to move on is not a proactive plan to grow your salary. Concerns about being viewed as a ‘job hopper’ shouldn’t see you anchored to a job paying an unsatisfactory salary.
Each new job opportunity provides an opportunity to negotiate a higher salary and today’s hiring employers are less likely to frown on a candidate who has worked for a variety of employers. More than half (56%) of CFOs say they would be willing to hire a candidate who has a history of job hopping.
That’s because the broad and diverse skills and experience gained across multiple roles are widely being recognised as critical to career success.
9) Head to where the money is
Not sure when your skills and experience will be rewarded with a salary increase? In today’s market some industries and specialty fields are outperforming others, and this creates the potential for salary differentials.
Continued employment growth in Singapore is being driven by emerging job opportunities in the information and communication industry, and financial and insurance services.
Switching to an industry where there is especially high demand for your skills and qualifications can fast-track your salary growth.
Try just one step or tackle them all to set your salary on a path for growth in 2019.