When Grand Hyatt gave me my first offer, it was for 7,500rmb/$1,134 a month, flat. No extras!
A lot of people don’t like to negotiate or have a discussion after they get an offer because of the fear that they might lose the job, or scare away the employer; but in my experience and from what I’ve seen, is that if they are giving you an offer, they don’t want to lose you and will certainly be open to discussing your compensation.
This exchange is even more extreme for China where everything is open to negotiation, and Chinese people are excellent hagglers; buying fruits at a market is open to negotiation… seriously. But I love it!
So after I found the first offer unacceptable, I sent an email to the GM, and 24 hours later, I had a new offer. The details simply put:
Housing allowance: 4,000rmb/$606
Two months comp. stay in hotel until I find housing, but if I wanted to stay, I would share a room with an intern…
Laundry: 2,000rmb/$303 allowance
There was just one thing missing, food! I like to eat good, I mean, real good. I do love Chinese food don’t get me wrong, but a nice pizza, or steak, or some pasta… I was going to burn my check. So I needed to negotiate further.
Here’s a piece of advice my big brother in China gave me:
“Contracts in China can always be amended”
So, what I did is instead of pushing for a meal plan and asking too much right away, I waited until I got to the hotel, started working, then approached the HR. Now I don’t want to sound like I felt entitled, but a rapid change in diet, switching to 60% spicy, 20% local, 20% unidentifiable foods can trigger your body in a weird way. To me, I just couldn’t find the energy, plus I was jet lagged. So I gave it a few days then pushed my meal plan and got it; the reason I waited, and they already had me on payroll & working, is that they’re not going to, in theory, let me go because I pushed for a meal plan.
So my meal plan was as follows: although I have a specific amount in my earlier article, I gave that number based on how much I used per month on average but this is what the plan consisted of.
- 8 meals per week in the Grand Cafe (our ADD (all day dining restaurant))
- 2,000rmb/$303 in another restaurant
- 1,500rmb/$227 in the collection of high end restaurants on the 56th floor including Italian, Japanese etc.
- 50% off if I go over those thresholds and 50% off of drinks at the bar if I went.
Pretty sweet huh?
But to wrap this up in a nice article here’s how it works:
1.) HR departments have a lot of programs, resources and benefits they can extend to those who ask. (So always ask)!
2.) Negotiate the most important things first, and don’t settle just for the opportunity, you need to be okay with what you’re accepting (it’ll affect your morale sooner or later). I was willing to accept a low salary for an opportunity and a title but my parents were always a support base if and when I needed help.
3.) Contracts can be amended, added onto, and ratified in China without pause. Most times, without asking, you won’t receive much, but they usually have a budget for these things they just want to low-ball a little; most employers do.
4.) American culture is viewed as highly respectful (please, thank you, open doors for others etc.) in China this is viewed as too formal, and a little uncomfortable, so when it comes to negotiations, we try not to be pushy, China’s the opposite. Those who push, haggle, and get aggressive, get what they want.
5.) Finally, learn what the standard of living is, and potentially budget and plan before you go. I’ll tell you about being broke in China and it’s not fun, trust me. Build a savings and safety cushions, since China , compared with the United States, has a cheaper standard of living, you end up consuming and buying more goods, food, and things you didn’t at home; as such you rack up twice the expenses.
Thanks for stopping by, and see you in the next article.