Marta Verderosa is a manager in the legal recruitment team at Michael Page Hong Kong.
How will I get the best salary when I return to Hong Kong?
I have spent 15 years working as an in-house solicitor in the financial sector, the last five of them in Europe. I am planning to return to Hong Kong later this year. I would like to return to my old employer, for whom I worked for six years. I left on very good terms and I have kept in touch with some of the management there.
If I do return to work there though, I want to get a favourable package, certainly better than what I had before. This will require some negotiation but I am unsure how to approach it without coming across as too pushy. What do you suggest I do?
A good approach for professionals returning to a position in Hong Kong is to place yourself in the shoes of your prospective employers.
This would allow you to better structure your unique capabilities as an employee and ease the salary negotiation based on your prospective employer’s priorities. While it can be assumed that everyone wants to be paid more, when you demonstrate you put others first, conversations like this come across as more amiable.
With your experience, it is also important to note that Hong Kong has a very dynamic economic landscape which means that, in the past five years while you were away, numerous companies have also gone through transformation.
Therefore it will be to your advantage to keep yourself informed of the changes. Displaying knowledge like this also increases your value as a potential employee.
Establish a strong case to justify your higher salary expectations. It will be important to determine if your previous employer currently has a need for someone at your level of seniority or if you will be a good fit in the existing team.
You can also use your prior employment in the company to convince the hiring manager that you have the first-hand knowledge of the internal processes and perhaps more effective in this role than someone new to the company. Speak about the experience you have accumulated in the past five years which might make you more qualified and relevant than before.
It will also be useful to refer to salary guides and comprehensive research published by professional recruitment firms. Employers would have to consider market rates as well in order to make a competitive offer.
It is also common practice for employers in Hong Kong to consider the candidate’s last drawn salary to offer a reasonable increment. Ensure you are able to clearly present your current compensation and benefits package. Since you are relocating from Europe, you can also include the different standards of living in your negotiations.