Oct 11, 2010

The dangers of wanting (and taking) high salary increases

If you want to move to another bank in the mainland, what sort of salary increment should you be satisfied with?

A rise of between 10 and 20 per cent is reasonable in the current market, according to Rio Goh, manager, Michael Page Financial Services. “When candidates ask for 40 to 50 per cent increases, we usually try to manage their expectations, even before they go into the interview stage with our client,” he says.

Recruitment consultants need to give candidates a realistic idea of their market value. It’s also important that job seekers don’t just apply for roles which offer high one-off pay increments, adds Goh. “We ask them to look further and to think of where they want to be three to five years down the road. How much money can they make short term and how much long term is fundamentally different,” he explains.

Another potential danger of taking a large salary hike is that your performance will come under extra scrutiny, especially if you are being paid more than your colleagues in similar roles. “We want people to set themselves up for success, not for failure. A motivated and serious candidate values career development more than salary,” says Goh.

Stephen He, senior consultant, banking and finance, Consult Group, also warns candidates not to focus purely on pay. “Management and company culture, as well as the firm’s platform, are also important factors that define the interests of candidates as to whether they want to work for the company.”

Are Generation Y professionals in China generally more demanding regarding pay than their older counterparts?

“Young bankers are less experienced and in our opinion not more demanding. We feel they need more guidance in their career and we spend more time talking to them to help them become successful and find the right career for them. Senior bankers generally know what they want. That can be good, but also bad, depending on whether they are realistic or not,” says Goh.