Here’s how IT employees get higher starting salaries: Survey

Research reveals Singapore’s IT leaders are willing to raise starting salaries for top IT professionals to secure talent in a skills-short market.

The 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide reveals the latest hiring trends and in-depth salary data for Singapore’s IT and technology sector

  • Top three reasons for which Singaporean CIOs are willing to pay IT professionals a higher starting salary: previous project experience (63%), previous product/service launch (45%) and previous team lead experience (41%).
  • 92% plan to allocate pay rises to an average of 15% of their IT staff, with the average increase expected to be 7%, well above the national average of national wage growth of 4.3% .
  • Top three in-demand IT roles in Singapore are: IT Security Specialist, Project Manager and Business Analyst.  

New independent research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half and published in the newly-released 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide reveals Singapore’s IT leaders are willing to raise starting salaries for top IT professionals to secure talent in a skills-short market.

According to the research, experience trumps education when awarding higher starting salaries. More than six in 10 (63%) CIOs are willing to pay a higher starting salary to IT jobseekers with previous project experience, followed by more than four in 10 (45%) who would do the same for skilled candidates with previous experience in product/service launches. Previous team-lead experience closely follows with 41%. Lastly, soft skills (32%) ranks slightly higher than education (31%) as a key factor for which CIOs are willing to offer their IT staff a higher starting salary. 

Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Managing Director at Robert Half Singapore said: “While awarding starting salaries is decided upon on a case-by-case basis, many employers consider experience as a more valuable component in a candidate’s resume. This is particularly the case within the booming IT market, where experience tends to count for more in a market characterised by a supply and demand imbalance. While a combination of education and experience is often the foundation for a successful career, IT professionals with the right experience can generally hit the ground running as the practicality gained during a period of working often outranks the value of formal qualifications.”

As most IT leaders are willing to increase starting salaries to attract new skilled IT staff, employers realise they have to pre-empt their current IT top performers staff being enticed to new roles with more attractive salary packages, especially in a market where 92% of Singaporean CIOs find it challenging to source qualified IT professionals. The research shows 92% of Singapore’s CIOs plan to allocate pay rises to an average of 15% of their IT staff, with the average increase expected to be 7%, well above the national average of national wage growth of 4.3% [1], thereby acknowledging the importance of salary increases to retain top tech staff in a skills-short market.

“In Singapore, the demand for qualified professionals in RPA, AI, IT security and data analytics has surged as companies are adopting new technologies to remain competitive. Technology candidates with such backgrounds find themselves in high demand, and most IT employers in Singapore understand they need to offer above-average salary increases or risk losing them to the competition.”

“Aware of their market value, top IT professionals in Singapore are actively being approached by competitors willing to offer them a more attractive remuneration package that goes beyond a competitive salary, including flexible work hours, remote working and career progression prospects. IT employers therefore need to not only regularly review salaries to ensure they are at or above industry rates, but also consider offering non-financial incentives, such as work-life balance initiatives and professional development, in order to attract and retain high-calibre IT talent,” concluded Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard. 

The Robert Half Salary Guide has identified the top technology positions in demand in 2018 [2] – Singapore’s IT sector is currently experiencing a supply/demand imbalance, so top IT professionals – especially those in the following high-demand job roles – are likely to negotiate a higher starting salary when interviewing for a new job:

•    IT Security Specialist 

  Salary Range      
Percentiles 25th 50th 75th 95th
  $75,000 $100,000 $135,000 $180,000

Source: 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide 

The escalating cost and frequency of cyber-attacks have resulted in organisations increasingly relying on IT security experts, pushing companies to take a pre-emptive approach to discovering and tracking security issues. This has resulted in rising salary growth for IT security specialists as companies vie for the best talent. 

•    Project Manager 

  Salary Range      
Percentiles 25th 50th 75th 95th
  $108,000 $120,000  $144,000 $180,000

Source: 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide 

Due to favourable business expansion in Singapore, companies need skilled Project Managers to efficiently manage business-critical projects from concept to completion. This level of expansion is driving demand and therefore place Project Managers in high demand. 

•    Business Analyst 

  Salary Range      
Percentiles 25th 50th 75th 95th
  $84,000  $96,000  $112,000 $132,000

Source: 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide 

In a digitised market, and with businesses focused on gaining insights as to how to grow their business, employment options for business analysts will continue to increase in Singapore. Highly skilled business analysts with well-developed technical and communication skills are in high demand and low supply, which increases their chances of securing higher starting salaries. 

[1] http://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Income-Summary-Table.aspx

[2] The 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide contains new formatting for how the starting salaries for each position are presented. The salary ranges are now presented in percentiles (rather than the low-to-high ranges used previously). These percentiles are determined by a candidate’s skillset and experience level, as well as the complexity of their role – the higher the percentile the more complex the role and the greater skillset and experience level required.

By providing a more comprehensive salary overview, hiring managers are able to better benchmark starting salaries against a candidate’s experience and qualifications, and candidates get more guidance about the necessary steps they can take to earn a higher salary.          

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About the Robert Half Salary Guide
The 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide is the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on starting salaries and recruitment trends in finance and accounting, financial services and information technology in Hong Kong.

It offers a comprehensive overview of the current salary ranges, industry trends and specific job trends for finance and accounting, financial services and technology professionals. The results and insights of the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide are based on comprehensive analyses, local job placements, local expertise and independent research of executives and office workers. 

About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted in June-July 2017 by an independent research firm, surveying 75 CIOs/CTOs in Singapore. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.  

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