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Hong Kong Construction Salary Guide: Understanding Your Value

In the Hong Kong construction market for Engineers and Quantity Surveyors salary is the most common deal breaker in someone’s final decision on whether to change jobs. Along with job title and job duties it is a key component of any new job offer. In the Hong Kong construction industry in particular, salary is a major determining factor for many clients when determining whether they will even interview someone. Clients will often request current and expected salary figures before the interview or during the application process and it can often be a knock out factor for many candidates!

Therefore knowing how to manage the salary aspect of a job application is critical in influencing whether or not you will secure the actual offer of the job. Taking the wrong approach at the initial stage of the application process can lead to your application being dismissed before even undertaking an interview. Let’s take a look at some of key issues to think about when undertaking salary negotiations as part of your next job application. 

Honesty First
The most critical thing to do is to be honest about your current salary level when asked. This may sound obvious but companies will often request this information to help them benchmark any potential offer they may make against your current earnings. Not only that but the client will often request salary proof in the form of a latest pay slip or employment contract before they will commit to making an offer. Being honest from the outset will ensure you don’t fall down at this stage of the process and potentially be remembered for the wrong reasons in the future.

Finer Details
Salary offers can often be made up of several different components such as: Basic Salary, Site Allowance, Housing Allowance and Gratuity/Bonus. So it is important to break down your current salary and expected salary into the different components. Make sure you are clear what the minimum basic salary you would accept is, this allows us to ensure we only match the most suitable jobs and can save everyone wasted time and effort. 

Realistic Expectations
Bench marking your current salary against your target salary for a new role is not an easy task. Candidates often try to strike a fine balance between securing a good pay rise without pricing themselves out of the market. But there are certain ways you can gather market information to help ensure your expectations realistic within the current market conditions.

1. Ask your friends. Asking any friends or ex-colleagues who work in the same role/industry is an easy way to gather some relevant market information about what sort of salary you may be able to secure. There may be some discrepancy unless you’re the comparing the exact same experience and qualifications, but this method can still give you a good idea of the general market conditions. Be aware that although some companies may be known to pay slightly higher than others, it is likely most companies will still be within a certain range of salary figures.  You do however need to trust the people you are seeking this advice from; we often hear tall tales in this area that are not at all helpful for benchmarking purposes!

2. Realistic % Increase. As already discussed most companies will already know your current salary before making an offer, so it is important any pay increase seems realistic to the client. For example asking for what equates to a 50% increase is most likely to just not happen, the client will rightly see this as totally unrealistic and will dismiss your application straight away. One way of fishing at an interview as to where to pitch your salary level, is to ask them what they pay people of your level now.  Another sensible approach to this issue would be to look at any previous pay rises or promotions you have received internally, often these are carried out on a yearly basis and can give you a good idea of the sort of % salary increase you can expect when changing jobs to a similar company in the same industry. Generally speaking anywhere from a 5% - 15% increase can be considered realistic in a buoyant market like Hong Kong and should help make your profile attractive to potential employers. The exact increase will be greatly affected by your specific circumstances and personal situation. The best way to ensure you are realistic is to ask your recruitment consultant for advice.

3. Ask Your Recruiter. Professional and honest recruiters will give you honest and reliable feedback on your current salary level in relation to other candidates with similar experiences and should be able to tell you whether you current level is too low, about right or too high based on relevant, recent examples of seeing the market rate demonstrated in action. Let’s not forgot also that a recruiter will know what their clients are likely to be able to offer someone and feed this back to you so it is essential you take their advice on board. Clearly it is in our interests to get someone the best possible salary; however we have to finely balance this with ensuring the applicant isn’t rejected because their expectations are too high and waste everyone’s time with applications that will never conclude successfully.

4. Don’t be Ambiguous. People often include discretionary bonuses when stating their current monthly salary package. You need to avoid this, much like you wouldn’t expect to see this included in your monthly salary for a job offer, clients also do not expect to see this included in your current monthly salary. If you do want to include this make sure you break it down into what you received as a bonus. Most companies will only state a discretionary bonus is included rather than quoting an actual figure, after all this is a DISCRETIONARY bonus.

If you are able to follow these guidelines then hopefully you will be in an excellent position to handle any salary negotiations during your next job application. For further advice on your current salary, target salary or new job opportunities please get in contact with us to speak with one of our expert consultants about suitable jobs in your target location.

Tim Cole
Maxim Recruitment
Hong Kong and Asia Region

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