Advice on building a career in Singapore needed

Discuss about getting a well paid job or career advancement. Ask about salaries, expat packages, CPF & taxes for expatriate.
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Advice on building a career in Singapore needed

Post by wcs » Tue, 23 Jun 2009 4:45 am

I would be interested to hear your advice, views or flames on building a career in Singapore.

I am negotiating with a tech startup to be employed as a Chief Operating Officer, but that just means I do everything as the firm is so small. In particular they want me to help close funding rounds. I am asking for $7k a month so I fit the P1 EP category to make my PR application easier. This is achievable once I help close the funding round. But not a higher salary as we need to get in other staff to grow the company. I will get performance bonuses and maybe share options, so my total package is greater.

However if all goes belly up, or the money runs out next year, then I presume the salary I chose for the benefit of the company, and to get a PR with minimal fuss, will come back to haunt me as I go for other jobs.

How strictly do companies here follow expected salary and previous salary information as opposed to what they think they need to pay to get the skill set and experience they want?

I like the guy who is founding the company, I am happy for a win-win situation (he gets a business focused person and presenter to help him close with investors; I get just enough salary level to help my PR application, a fast job, and to use the degree I just studied rather than doing straight IT again! )

I guess I am seeking a sounding board to make sure that I am not making some terminal career move in Singapore. Local friends have been advising me to just sign up with recruiters and get an IT job cause it will pay more.
So I would appreciate any thoughts you have or obvious flaws I have missed. I still cannot pretend to understand how this city works!

Alternatively, if there is a better career option locally that I am too tunnel visioned to be aware of, then I would love to hear that too.

Thanks for your help!

Here is a bit of background about me.

I am only new here. I have just been studying at NTU for the past year doing a Masters degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Graduation is next month so I have to find work soon if I want to stay. As someone who studied here we get a letter inviting us to apply for PR if we get an offer of employment.

I have enjoy what I studied, which is how to build up a business, grow it and find your sustainable advantage in your intellectual property. I plan to try working in this area in Singapore, as the govt is quite encouraging of people starting up new ventures and doing tech transfer to locals. I also have five and half years previously in a dot com which survived the crash! ;) So I enjoy the various stages which startups go through. Whilst here I have been in a few business plan competitions and been fortunate enough to be a semi or grand-finalist.

Previously I worked in IT infrastructure and have about a dozen years of experience. I did help desk long ago, then was a network system engineer (Windows, Unix, Apple) for about 7 years. I later moved to a business analyst role for a couple of years. I was in an information architecture group, then moved into infrastructure planning and architecture again. I would do IT infrastructure strategy for the organisation, position papers, product or architecture recommendations, and high level architecture for core projects. Top that off with some project management.

Along the way I got the ITIL foundation and PRINCE2 project management certs, a Bachelor in Info Sys from Melbourne Uni, and a Master of IT at Monash. (Aussie unis which Singapore recognises.)

Before coming to do this course in Singapore, I went through a deliberate transition of moving from techie to a business focus, where I could talk business speak to directors and project stakeholders and technicalities to techies. I just felt was a more sustainable career path if you present well, speak decent english, and can be placed in-front of the client.

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Re: Advice on building a career in Singapore needed

Post by jpatokal » Wed, 24 Jun 2009 10:01 am

wcs wrote:How strictly do companies here follow expected salary and previous salary information as opposed to what they think they need to pay to get the skill set and experience they want?
Simple question -- why would your next company know how much you earned at your previous company? They have no way to validate this info. You can simply tell them you were earning (say) $15k/month, and if you're worth it, they'll buy it.
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Post by Hithnar » Wed, 24 Jun 2009 10:21 am

Don't companies ask for last pay-slip?

I always say that my salary is a subject to privacy policy in the company, and i can't disclose...

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 24 Jun 2009 11:04 am

Over here, that translates to "I'm fibbing on my last drawn and that's why I won't show it to you." Welcome to Asia where the only rule is "there are no rules".

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Post by wcs » Wed, 24 Jun 2009 6:14 pm

I'd just love a form that did not force me to put in N/A for all O-level and A-level results when I say I have a bachelor degree. And one where I could put negotiable beside the salary expectations, and not at the other end of the form in a text box they probably never get to! ;)

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Post by Addadude » Wed, 24 Jun 2009 7:12 pm

WCS, I don't see anything wrong with exercising your entrepreneur muscles first and and seeing what happens. It's not as if there are a lot of employers looking to hire at the moment!

As a genuine partner and 'investor' in the business, the salary you are paying yourself should be on 'low side'. So this should not be a factor if things don't work out and you need to seek employment elsewhere.

The previous salary issue is always a touchy subject. Obviously the reason you are been asked for is to squeeze you lower on your salary expectations.

After my first employment debacle working for a local agency in Singapore, I have always refused to give a figure or show prospective employers my pay slip. My rationale is very simple: I already have a job but this new company is looking to lure me away from it. Therefore all they need to know from me is the salary I expect from them in order for me to want to leave. This is the figure we should be negotiating around - NOT my current salary.

This approach has cost me certain "opportunities" but then I didn't really lose anything as I already had a job!

And yes, it really messes with the heads of local HR departments!
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Post by ksl » Wed, 24 Jun 2009 9:46 pm

With your skill set and experience and the Masters degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

I would rather like to ask you to solve this problem yourself, by using your academic knowledge gained through your master degree.

The way i see it, you may have a problem in the future you may have to resolve, so by doing a SWOT on yourself, to discover your strength and weakness, you may be able to identify, a strategy, that you can use to over come the potential problem.

Although It may well be in your own confidence just now, that is lacking, because of a lack of negotiating skills.

Good experienced HR will spot you a mile off, and your character is also at stake, better to come clean, and say it how it is, no need to give amounts because it is a start up business, of which you get shares in and performance bonuses related to the agreement you made in confidence, with a potential of 15 to 30k a month (figure of speech) after the first year.

My point is to use your own abilities to solve this problem, by making a plan of action, for a future problem, and resolve it by using alternative methods available. Always have an action plan for the worst scenarios, be it a business plan or your own life.

A little role play with SMS would be a good start :wink: Maintain your value and self worth and don't be stamped a Walter Mitty...

What is the rate today for someone with your experience and a Masters degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 12k to 15k!

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