Evaluate a
Job Offer

Evaluate a Job Offer

01

Understanding Offer Letters and Employment Contracts

Understand what to expect at each stage in the job offer process.
Are you being offered a permanent or fixed term contract position? Understand the key differences and what to look out for.

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How an offer is made

Congratulations! You’ve been offered a job and all the hard work has finally paid off! So now you just need to accept. But wait, there is still a lot that needs to happen before you accept an offer. First things first, you need to be aware of the stages in the process, and what to consider at each stage.

1 The Verbal Offer

A hiring manager or recruiter may call and offer you the position over the phone. Even if you are keen to accept, don’t jump to accept the offer on the call. You should assess the full terms of the offer to know exactly what you are signing up for. If they ask you to indicate whether you will accept, reply that you are keen (if that is honest are), and that you look forward to receiving the formal offer.

2 The Written Offer

Usually sent by email and will include details such as: job title, job description, start date, salary, benefits, paid time-off, work schedule and reporting structure. If you have any questions of the terms of the employment and the benefits, this is the time to raise them. Once you accept, it is also not possible to negotiate any of the terms and conditions. If you are clear and satisfied with the terms, then you should reply by thanking them for the offer and confirming that you accept.

3 The Contract

Once you accept the offer, the contract will either be sent for you to sign and return, or you will be asked to go to the company’s office to do so. The contract will be several pages long and will contain all the detailed terms and conditions of the contract. Once you sign the contract, this is a binding legal agreement between you and the company.

Key terms that should be included in the written offer:

  • Job title
  • Salary
  • Any bonuses, commission, additional incentive compensation
  • Any allowances including travel, phone, and entertainment
  • Probation period
  • Notice period (the length of time between tendering your resignation and the actual time you stop working)
  • Hours of work
  • Start date
  • Whether the offer is conditional on attainment of a degree classification
  • Details of any bond to be served
  • Holiday, sick pay entitlements, and insurance
  • Any allowances including travel, phone, and entertainment

Offer Letter Sample

Type of Contracts

Many companies offer fixed-term contracts instead of permanent contracts to maintain flexibility in periods of uncertain business conditions. There are benefits to both type of contracts and the difference in provisions might not vary greatly. Increasingly, fixed-term contracts are on the rise.

Permanent Contract

An employment contract whereby an employee is employed by the company for an indefinite period.

Fixed-term Contract or Term contract

An employment contract that ends on a particular date, or upon the completion of a specific project. The term can vary between three months to a year. Upon completion, the company will either offer to extend it for a further term, offer a permanent contract, or terminate the contract.

Differences in provisions of Permanent and Fixed-Term Contracts

Difference in provisions Permanent Contract Fixed-Term Contract
Statutory benefits e.g. annual leave, health insurance
  • Entitled to statutory benefits either immediately or after the probation period.
  • Entitled to statutory benefits only after you have worked for a period of three months without a break. These may include:
    • Annual leave, medical leave
    • Health insurance
    • Allowances
  • The benefits could also be less than those provided to permanent staff.
Termination notice period
  • The termination notice period will be stated on the contract and is usually between 1 month to 3 months.
  • Most fixed term contracts will specify a notice period in the contract. Otherwise, if you have been employed for less than 26 weeks the notice period is one day. If you have been employed for between 26 weeks – 2 years, the notice period will be one week.

Fixed-Term Contracts Pros and Cons

For more information on MOM Guidelines on fixed-term contracts, click here. Employers offering fixed term contracts are also required to provide details of the Key Employment Terms in the offer.

Pros

 

  • Potential lower barriers to entry: contract roles are often offered for positions that need to be filled urgently and employers can be more flexible in the required level of experience or skills required.
  • Acquire career-building skills: companies may offer contracts to cover staff who are on maternity or periods of extended leave. This experience could lead you to being hired on a permanent basis or qualify you for a similar role in another organisation.
  • Build connections: even if it is not your dream role, it could open up the door to new opportunities and new connections that you never imagined before.

 

Cons

 

  • No long-term security: there is no guarantee your contract will be renewed at the end of the term, hence you may need to continue to search for other positions at the same time.
  • Impact on your resume: Multiple successive fixed-term contracts may not look good on your resume as it may suggest that you are either not employable on a permanent basis or not willing to commit. On the other hand, taking up a short-term position that gives you valuable experience, can signify motivation and interest in the function or industry to a future employer.

 

Additional information for International Students

If you are not a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, you need to consider these points:

  • In order for a foreign professional to work in Singapore, your employer will need to apply for an Employment Pass (EP) for you. Do remember to check with the employer on this. For more information, refer to the Ministry of Manpower website.
  • As foreign employees are not entitled to employer CPF contributions, companies may include a percentage of this contribution into your salary. You may raise this point during salary negotiation.
  • In addition to salary, you should also pay attention to medical benefits offered such as hospitalization cover, healthcare subsidies, and medical insurance. This is important as foreigners do not have access to government subsidized healthcare services.

    Do familiarize yourself with tax liabilities for foreign professionals working in Singapore. Take note that in some instances, foreigners may also be subjected to paying taxes to their home countries. See more information on tax liability. 

02

Evaluating Job Offers

Hurray you have an offer! Now there may be many questions in your head about whether it is right for you. Here is a holistic approach to evaluate a job offer.

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How to objectively evaluate a job offer

After sending out endless applications, receiving a job offer can feel exhilarating! But then anxiety may set in as you ask yourself, is this really the right job for me?

At this point, it’s time to take a step back, and reflect on two key questions:

  1. Could I gain valuable experience in this industry, function or field?
  2. Can I see myself committing to this job for at least 12 months?

 

There’s much to consider when answering these questions and it’s important to take a holistic approach. No job is perfect, and you may need to make some trade-offs to decide which offer is right for you.

Review each of the factors in the visual and reflect on the questions. Remember, it’s unlikely that one job will tick all the boxes. After weighing up all the factors, could it be the right opportunity for you?

Need help in weighing up the pros and cons of a job offer or comparing multiple job offers?

 

Need help in benchmarking your salary and understanding potential salary progression?
Refer to Singapore Payscale to calculate the average salaries by job function, typical salary growth by years of experience as well as career paths
Refer to SGCharts for salary guides by industry

03

What to Consider Before Negotiating a Job Offer

If you have received an offer but it’s not what you expected, you may be thinking about negotiating.
Learn what to consider before negotiating and how to maintain a good relationship with your prospective employer throughout the negotiation.

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Should you negotiate on the salary or other benefits?

Before planning to negotiate, ensure you have done a thorough evaluation of the offer and the role, based on what’s important to you. If you have not, check out factors to consider when evaluating an offer and also the job offer decision matrix.

What to consider before you negotiate:

  • Can you negotiate or not? Certain positions or sectors offer packages that are non-negotiable. This is usually:
    • Management trainee/Graduate training positions
    • Most starting positions in the public sector
    • Many other companies only offer a fixed starting salary to fresh graduates, so whilst you can try to negotiate, you may simply receive a response that the salary is not negotiable.
  • Research the salary ranges for the position you are considering within the respective industry to determine the ‘market rate’.
  • Consider the whole value of the package including any bonuses, commission, 13th month payment. If comparing multiple offers, compare based on the annual salary rather than monthly salary as the pay may be structured differently (some may include a 13th month payment and bonuses which will only be factored in to the annual pay).

 

Do’s and Don'ts of Salary Negotiation

Do's

  • Do be positive & professional
    It’s essential to be positive and professional in all your correspondence with the employer throughout the negotiation, so that they don’t reconsider hiring you. Reiterate your desire to work at the company and maintain a courteous and upbeat tone in your emails. Be sure to always use professional language and respond promptly to requests.
  • Do write an email rather than call
    Raise queries or write a counter proposal by email rather than over the phone. This will allow you to compose your key points logically and professionally. Having the negotiation documented in writing, will also avoid any misunderstandings. Learn how to compose a counter proposal.
  • Do know your value & focus on what you can offer
    Make your case to the employer by stating the experiences and skills that demonstrate the personal value you would bring to the role. After this, you can then propose the salary that you believe is in line with your experience and expertise.
  • Do your research
    It is vital to research the market rate for the role at your level to ensure that your counter proposal is realistic. Use trusted salary guides such as Payscale and SG Charts to gauge the market rate for your role. Making a counter proposal of a number that is well over market rate will make you lose credibility.
  • Do make a counter offer for a specific number & decide what is the minimum salary you are willing to accept
    Once you have done your research, decide on the exact number you wish to request in your counter proposal. This can be a little higher than you are willing to accept so that there is room for negotiation.

 

Don'ts

  • Don’t be arrogant or pushy
    If you sound arrogant, pushy or offensive, then the employer will not be inclined to make you a better offer. They may also reconsider whether you are the kind of person they want to hire and could retract the offer entirely.
  • Don’t ask for too many changes
    Pick 1-2 elements that you want to negotiate on and focus on these in your counter proposal. If there are other minor details you wish to query, raise these after agreeing on the main items first.
  • Don’t focus on what you need, when making your case
    You may need a higher salary to cover your rent or pay off your student loan, but don’t mention this in your counter proposal. Justification for your counter proposal should focus solely on the value you would bring to the company.

 

Need some tips on what to include in a counter proposal email

Counter Proposal Email

What to include:

  • Open by thanking them for the offer and expressing your enthusiasm & interest in the role.
  • State the element of the offer you wish to address.
  • Make your case in terms of the value you would bring to the role. This could be relevant work experience, research experience, personal qualities, technical skills.
  • If you are making a case for a higher salary, state the exact figure you are looking for.
  • End politely e.g. ‘I hope you will consider my proposal, I look forward to hearing from you.’

04

Accepting and Declining a Job Offer

Once you have an offer on the table, it is essential to manage your communications with recruiters well. Respond in a timely and polite manner to their queries and do not leave them waiting too long for your final decision.
Managed well, this process can be another opportunity to build your network for the future.

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Accept or Decline a Job Offer

How to handle multiple job offers

Hurray, you have a job offer for a great position! But what if you already have another offer, or still have a final interview pending for another position that also looks great?

  • In these situations, honesty is always the best policy, Don’t try to feign illness or pretend your grandmother is sick. Just be honest and ask for more time to make your decision. Recruiters will be well used to this scenario, and if they really want you, they will be prepared to wait.
  • Call the recruiter who offered you the position. The personal touch of calling rather than emailing will be appreciated, and allows you to gauge the response of the recruiter. Ask for a bit more time to make your decision. One week is usually reasonable, but they may not allow you longer than this.
  • If you already have one offer and are pending a decision from another company, you can call the recruiter from the pending company and politely let them know you already have one offer on the table. This could speed up their decision. If they do make you an offer then you could use the Job Decision Matrix to make your choice about which to accept.
What you need to know before accepting an offer
  • Once you have accepted a written offer, you are morally obliged to take up the position. If you rescind your acceptance, it could harm your reputation with the company and also within the industry. Personnel within an industry are well-connected and will often share information about past candidates, good and bad. Furthermore, it also harms the reputation of NUS graduates overall.
  • Signing the contract ties you into a binding agreement with the company.
  • If you decide to decline an offer, make sure to do so politely and with gratitude to maintain a good reputation. Recruiters always remember those who behaved unprofessionally or displayed a bad attitude and will be unlikely to reconsider candidates who made a bad first impression.
How to politely decline a job offer

Politely decline an offer, without burning bridges.

  • Thank them for the time and effort the recruiter or hiring manager has put into making you the offer. Mention any parts of the hiring experience you valued or what you like or admire about the company.
  • Provide a reason for declining but refrain from going into great detail. If you don’t have any other offers, you may simply explain that whilst you recognise that it is a good opportunity, the position is not the right fit for your career goals at this time. If you developed a good rapport with the recruiter, you may want to connect with them on LinkedIn to help build your network for the future.
  • Was there anyone else who helped you in the process or were you referred by someone? Did an acquaintance offer you advice during the process? Now is the time to also thank them and let them know your decision.

Would you like to speak to someone about your job offer

References