Commentary: Why aren’t more people negotiating salary when accepting a new job offer?

SINGAPORE: “What are your salary expectations?”

It’s a question on everyone’s mind at job interviews, yet also one that many tend to dance around.

Experienced job hunters would have anticipated the question and prepared a carefully calibrated number, usually based on word-of-mouth knowledge, employment surveys or Glassdoor reviews.

Quantitative data can provide a sense of credibility when setting our expectations. When the same job can sometimes be paid differently, falling back on publicly available benchmarks as a starting point for negotiations is a sensible strategy.

Yet, despite having these benchmarks at our disposal, salary negotiation remains one of the most dreaded tasks for jobseekers. We aren’t very good at putting a value on our work and remuneration can be a sensitive topic.

Trying to objectively gauge one’s own worth to a new employer can be nerve-wracking. Any jobseeker who has experienced repeated rejection might feel a lack of confidence in their skills and employability and feel less equipped to ask for a higher figure than the one they set on the table.


From a worker’s perspective, many are hungry and open about how much they’re willing to invest in work for a pay raise.

Pre-pandemic, ADP’s annual employment survey, Workforce View 2020, revealed that 30 per cent of Singaporean employees would be willing to work more days or hours in the week, in exchange for higher pay.

But a higher pay shouldn’t necessarily mean more hours. It could mean more responsibilities or taking up a special project.

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