Everything is negotiable
When discussing contract terms and conditions, it is important to remember that everything is negotiable. Employers and HR managers might like you to believe their hands are tied concerning what's on offer for specific positions and levels of experience, but that is rarely so.
Therefore, when the subject of salary comes up, either with a prospective new employer or a present boss, be ready to state your case. There are certain guidelines to follow. First, prepare well. Research the going market rate for the position and make sure you are ready to explain or emphasise what you can bring to the job.
Next, take your time to consider carefully what is on the table. The best time to hammer out details is before agreeing to a move. Once you're actually in the job, employers are usually less willing to make exceptions or grant special requests.
At all times, behave professionally. Remember this is, in effect, a business negotiation, so be clear in your own mind which aspects are most important and where you can give ground. Overall, the key is to let the employer feel you are working together to find a package that will satisfy both sides.
Also, be sure to look at the total package and the bigger picture. The "extras" such as staff discounts, subsidised courses and medical cover all have a monetary value and should not just be taken as entitlements.
Article contributed by Lancy Chui, managing director of Manpower Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam operations