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askST Jobs: Go for a higher-paying job or more seniority?

SINGAPORE – In this series, manpower reporter Tay Hong Yi offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career. Get more tips by signing up to The Straits Times’ HeadSTart newsletter.

Q: I received two job offers: one with higher pay, and another with more seniority. How do I choose?

A: Those fortunate enough to be in this situation should mull over their personal aspirations and professional goals when making the choice.

“Key considerations include financial goals, career trajectory, work-life balance, job satisfaction and security, as well as learning and growth opportunities that each job offers,” says Mr Dhirendra Shantilal, strategic adviser at recruitment firm TG Group.

“Most of all, make your decision based on which company and work environment you will thrive in,” he adds.

Mr Shantilal says it is equally important to consider the leader you will be working with.

Apart from reading employee reviews on platform Glassdoor, he advises candidates to note whether the leaders do what they say they will.

Asked if it is easier to catch up in pay or seniority later on if the candidate forgoes one for the other now, Mr Shantilal says the outcome depends on industry norms, as well as potential trade-off involved in relation to personal goals.

As one’s future salary is usually pegged to the last-earned salary, candidates who pick less senior roles for more upfront pay may end up selling themselves short in the long run, as their salaries could plateau if they do not take on higher responsibilities, he cautions.

Still, opting for higher pay early in one’s career can help candidates meet their financial goals sooner, at the cost of potentially missing out on establishing experience and long-term benefits such as leadership opportunities and job security, says Mr Foo See Yang.

Placing a higher emphasis on seniority offers the prospect of deeper business understanding, though slower initial income growth is a potential trade-off, adds Mr Foo, who is managing director and country head at recruitment firm Persolkelly Singapore.

Nonetheless, Mr Shantilal notes that there are some sectors, such as fast-moving consumer goods, in which management responsibilities commonly increase without a significant increase in pay due to industry practices, cost constraints as well as stiff business competition.

Conversely, highly skilled individual contributor roles can be highly valued and well compensated compared with leadership roles in the same company in certain demanding sectors such as information technology and advanced manufacturing, he says.

“Individual contributors such as consultants and sales executives could possibly earn more than their managers because of high incentives for contributors.”

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As for whether it is advisable for candidates to use one offer as leverage over another for better pay or seniority, Mr Shantilal says candidates should focus on what they can bring to the prospective employer.

“It is good practice in general not to leverage one offer on another, as it is a short-sighted approach based on quantitative factors.”

Likewise, Mr Foo advises candidates to seek a more favourable package in a job offer strategically and thoughtfully by establishing their suitability for the role through highlighting their unique value and emphasising their relevant skills and accomplishments.

“Once this has been done, the candidate can introduce the other offer as an additional consideration,” he says, advising to frame the requested higher salary or greater authority as “a win-win opportunity” where the employer also gains a more motivated employee.

“By effectively communicating their enthusiasm, unique value, and openness to a mutually beneficial solution, candidates can increase their chances of securing a more favourable compensation package.”

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