“Experience” is a lousy way to justify a pay increase

Future Leaders Summit

The following had been contributed by Lin Chin Quek, 28, Career Counsellor.

I am a career counsellor and it is too often that I have heard these words: “I have XY years experience, surely that is cause for pay rise.” 

I have news for you: Experience means nothing at all in today’s world. 

It translates to: I have to pay you more just because you’re older.

So if you’re thinking of changing your job, or asking pay increments because of your “experience”, forget it.

The value that companies want from an employee today is: skills.

They don’t want someone who has spent 20 years repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again. 

It is very different from someone spending 20 years gaining diverse skills from doing different things.

What do I mean?

In the course of a working day, you do various things:

  • Deal with customers
  • Handle money
  • Manage logistics
  • Customer relations
  • Introducing new products
  • Adapt to a new colleague
  • Use technology

If you can delve into learning new things, get better at them and are confident in using these new skills – then yes, 20 years of doing all these things help.

If in 20 years, you become accustomed to learning and welding new skills all the time then yes, your experience is indeed cherished.

But if in 20 years, all you’ve understood is one thing, then you are of not much value than you were 20 years ago. 

a.) Be curious

It is only through learning EVERYTHING and to be curious about EVERYTHING that you can learn new skills that adapt to a changing world.

b.) Be strategic

Don’t just approach a piece of work or a project directly. Have a think and discover a better way of doing it then sell it to your boss. Encourage and embrace change.

c.) Be up-to-date

Up to date not just with technologies, but the latest thinkings, frameworks and processes. There are always better and smarter ways of doing work and solutions to your problems could already exist on an App Store.

D.) Be bold

With diversity of skills, useful experience and strong job-specific knowledge. You are in a better position to solve problems, innovate ideas and move a company forward. This is the stuff that companies want, this is the stuff that they’ll pay money for.

When is a good time to start? 


In fact, it is a matter of urgency. You don’t know when redundancy will strike and even if you do know, you would have probably no longer than 6 months notice to prepare… it won’t be enough time to prepare.

Skills need time to learn and grow. The time to start is now.


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