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Many people ask me: “Ryan, how did you choose between being CEO of Microsoft, and working as editor-janitor at MoneySmart?” It’s a good question. The answer is a complex cost-benefits analysis, followed by a bag over my head, and a dull thud as they dragged me into this office. I may have been spared the choice, but I understand the stress of those who aren’t. In this article, I’ll show you how to pick:
Choosing between jobs is one of life’s great pleasures.
Unless you work in Singapore.
In which case, you’re just choosing between two groups of workaholics, and hoping you pick the one that causes the lowest incidence of stomach ulcers.
Better consider the following, in order of priority:
Your happiness is tied to the value you deliver.
I know it’s an office tradition to crack jokes about productivity. I’m fond of explaining how various species of algae could replace me at my job. But truth is, I’d be upset if I thought I was really that useless. And I suspect the same goes for you.
HR (Human Resource) Consultant Angeline Seah says:
“If an employee feels inept, or unequal to the job, it can be just as stressful as being overworked. It lowers the employee’s self-esteem and confidence. No one likes to feel they’re not worth their pay.
Some employees feel this need to ‘cover up’, because they’re afraid someone will discover their supposed incompetence. This can lead to defensiveness and tensions in the department.”
Simply put: Pick the job you believe you’ll excel in. Even if it means a little less pay. It’s your choice: Feel good that you’re indispensable, or spend every work hour feeling as useful as a two legged paperweight.
Some people will tell you to ignore the culture aspect of work. You don’t have to like the system, they’ll tell you, just do a good job and everything will work out.
But if you’ve ever worked before, you’ll know how impossible this advice is.
For example: Some people are chronically incapable of accepting a “top down” hierarchy. It doesn’t matter how polite or impolite their co-workers are. The very structure of the organization ticks them off. Put these people in, say, the military, and they’ll stand a snowball’s chance in hell. This is regardless of their actual competence.
The reverse is also true. If you like formal authority, I doubt you’ll like a company where meetings start with Nerf gun fights and fart jokes.
You can ignore being a bad fit for a while. But know that:
“In my experience,” Angeline says, “Employees who cannot fit the corporate culture will leave within the first three years.”
If you know you’re not adaptable, take a close look at the offices and people. Which is the place you feel most comfortable in? Which can you imagine working at for five years or more? That’s the one you should choose.
Don’t just look at the monthly salary. Other factors to consider are:
It’s also advisable to break down the pay into a per-hour basis. For example, a $3,000 a month job with a 12 hour shift pays less than a $2,500 job with an 8 hour shift.
In addition, some companies provide comprehensive health insurance, which could save you having to turn to private insurers. Free dental is particularly valued; dentist bills in Singapore make pliers seem like plausible alternatives.
Angeline adds that:
“If there is a chance you are going back to school, pick the company that offers education subsidies. Financial aid aside, it means the company is prepared to accommodate part-time students.”
Diploma and ‘O’ Level holders might want to take note of that.
Be sure to ask the company about the bonuses and increments they’ve given out. Some companies may start you off on a higher base pay, but give little beyond that. In such cases, the value of the health benefits should be the tie-breaker.
For more about getting higher income, follow us on Facebook. We dig up new methods all the time.
Ask how a company will promote you. When choosing between two companies, it’s advisable to favour the one with a clear response to this.
Angeline says that:
“To be fair, no hiring manager can give you a 100% correct answer to this. After all, they barely know you. But what you’re really doing is observing the organizational standards of the company.
Better organized companies will have well defined KPI (key performance indicators) for their staff. There is usually a succession plan for managers, and an explanation of how seniority works.
If you cannot get a description from the hiring manager, it could mean that the company is not clear on your exact role. It could also mean the job is a dead-end, where you will be doing the same thing indefinitely.”
If both companies can describe your advancement well, then examine the difficulty of their KPI. A requirement like “Have good presentation skills” would be easier than “Invent a search engine to replace Google.”
Pick the company with the most measured and realistic KPI. You’ll be thankful later, when you know exactly which projects to prioritize.