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ShanghaiGuide

Shanghai careers and negotiating compensation packages

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Hey high-powered Chinese and expat managers! Here’s a crazy idea that just might work. Stop looking for a better job.

Think about staying put for a while. If you’ve got two jobs of less than 2 years in the last 6 years on your CV, then you have a potential problem on your hands. This is especially true if the only promotions you’ve ever had were from job-hopping. This could be a great time to stay put and do a little career fine-tuning. (And if you are an expat considering heading home without a 100% sure thing lined up – I’ve got one and a half words for you: RETHINK.)

You should make plans on sticking in out for another 2 years if you can make it work – even if you don’t think you have to. But if you’re Chinese at a multinational and you have a job title that would take you another 5 years to get overseas, then dig deep and discover that long-lost sense of perspective and realism – because the negotiating environment is much different in a global recession. As staffs start to tighten they will still need highly paid young managers, but they may not need as many

When negotiating for long-term compensation packages:

• Keep the negotiation friendly and open-ended. Remember - the whole point of this is to be more of a team player and build up that ‘management & leadership’ aspect of your CV. You want to look like a leader - not a pouty whiner.

• Win-win is not a loss or a last resort. Leave something on the table. Your goal here is to move up in the estimation of your bosses and peers — not alienate the entire management suite for an extra 1000 rmb per month. This is a great time to appear more human and mend fences.

• 18 months is the magic number. They start paying more after that – or should. The corollary, if your CV doesn’t have at least one gig lasting 2.5 years or 50% of the time since you’ve graduated, you have a potential problem on your hands — and everyone knows it but you.

• Don’t be passive – Walk in with a list of bargaining points. Chinese negotiators tend to be particularly weak in this area. Some have been known to get a good offer from a headhunter and walk away without even renegotiating with their exisitng management. That’s fine for kids taking their second job, but serious managers on thw ay up will have to take the lead - without the greed. Get creative, and link pay to performance. But be ready to give comparables from industry leaders

• Start introducing the word “productivity” into your vocabulary, and learn how to pretend you can increase it in your department. Talk about your own productivity — the ability to perform more for the the same compensation — and then talk about how you can boost the output of your department. When your senior bosses talk about ‘leadership’, this is what they really mean.

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