Singaporeans tend to be better at answering questions than asking them. If you break out into a cold sweat at the end of an interview when you’re asked if you have any questions, relax. This isn’t the O level oral test. Plus, you’re missing out on a whole bunch of questions you should be asking.
Other than the salary, here are 10 things you might want to think about when considering whether to sell your soul to a future employer and take up that job offer.
Some will be more important to you than others, of course. For example, if you already spent last year’s salary on a whole new corporate wardrobe, you might not be too concerned about how strict the dress code is. If you’re some kind of zombie, you not be interested in vacation time.
1. Annual leave
This is one the factors that are most important to many millennials, myself included. Even if a job pays an above average salary, imagine having only 5 days of annual leave each year. Might as well just make everyone wear a prisoners’ uniform what you’re at it. If you’re used to taking frequent weekend trips or going on longer vacations once or twice a year, you might go insane with too few days of annual leave.
2. Medical benefits
We tend to take for granted medical benefits such as insurance or reimbursement for doctors’ visits when we’re younger. But as you get older, keeping yourself insured gets more expensive and visits to the doctor mean more than just getting an MC. If you have any health issues, you’re going to want to pay closer attention to the medical benefits offered by your employer.
3. Remote working days/flexi hours
Being able to work from home is the dream of millennials and young parents everywhere. If a company is prepared to let you work from home some of the time or offer flexible hours, working for them is preferable to working for one that keeps you chained to your desk for most of your waking life.
4. Overtime pay
Unless you get paid by the hour or are a contract worker, it’s going to be hard to negotiate overtime pay here in Singapore; otherwise, Singapore’s employees, who work the world’s longest hours, would at least complain less about their wages. If a potential boss is willing to consider overtime pay, that’s a huge plus in his favour.
5. Stock options or shares
If you’re being courted by a start-up, you might be offered stock options or shares. That means you’ll own a slice of the company, and if the business makes it big, you could be sitting on a goldmine.
6. Educational or upgrading benefits
Thinking of furthering your studies somewhere down the road? Then you might do well to look for a company that’s be willing to foot the bill. However, don’t just assume a company will be willing to pay for your education if it benefits them. It really depends on management; I worked for one firm that paid for past employees’ masters degrees, and another that refused to fork out $90 to let an employee go for a work-related seminar.
Hate competing for seats at the hawker centre and have the cooking skills of a lumberjack? Or is your company situated in some remote area where you’re more likely to run into aliens from Mars than decent food options? Then you’ll want to know if your company has a canteen. If you work at a school, on Tuas or for a major newspaper, you just might be in luck. You might be stuck eating the same thing every day, but at least it’ll be cheap.
If your workplace is located on some far-flung Western island or at some technopark or industrial park, getting to work might be a headache unless the company provides you with transport. Don’t expect to be chauffeured to work in a limousine, though. The best you can expect is a shuttle bus. On the other hand, if you work the graveyard shift like those folks at banks who work London or New York hours, your company might reimburse your cab rides after a certain hour. Be sure to ask.
9. Dress code
If just walking past G2000 makes you cringe or you are the kind of person who buys new clothes every 20 years, a company with a strict formal dress code might not be for you. Even if your job falls on the more “corporate” side of the spectrum, different companies have different rules, some more draconian than others. One of my former companies mandated ties for males during office hours. On the other hand, at the MoneySmart office, acceptable attire includes animal jumpsuits and sequins.
10. Career advancement
Set on climbing the career ladder? Then you’ll want to ensure you get on one with rungs not reserved only for people with certain surnames. Have a chat with your potential employer about the career advancement opportunities open to you. If your lack of a degree is going to mean you’ll be stuck in your current post forever, it’s better to know now so you can head for the hills.
Are there any other factors that matter to you when deciding on a new job? Let us know in the comments!