3 Things I Learned After Asking Over 50 Strangers About Their Salaries | Vietcetera
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Jan 11, 2024

3 Things I Learned After Asking Over 50 Strangers About Their Salaries

Bamboo Careers’ Chi Nguyen dared to ask: what people really get paid for their jobs? Here are three insights she learned about work and salaries in Vietnam.
3 Things I Learned After Asking Over 50 Strangers About Their Salaries

Source: Bamboo Careers

“Did you ever feel okay talking about your salary with friends or family?”– Chi Nguyen starts the conversation, catching us off guard.

Most of us said no. Even if we dare to touch on this topic, it’s still not as comfortable and natural as asking what movie someone watched yesterday or how they spent their weekend.

Salary and bonuses remain sensitive topics in Vietnam, inadvertently creating inequalities and unspoken needs. A survey by Deloitte on more than 14,000 young people shows that over half of them have financial concerns. However, most still need to talk to their superiors about salary increases or promotions.

With the desire to “normalize” salary discussions, Chi Nguyen currently runs a TikTok channel with over 13,000 followers for Bamboo Careers, an app for salary lookup and salary increase advice.

After interviewing over 50 strangers about their salaries, what did Chi realize?

@bamboocareers Lương agency vs lương làm thợ xăm Muốn đi học và làm thợ xăm cần những gì? #BambooCareers #salarytransparency #minhbạchlương #cốvấntănglương #lương #agency #tattooartist ♬ original sound - Bamboo Careers

Talking About Salary Doesn’t Mean ‘Bragging About Salary’

Perhaps we have encountered scenarios where our neighbors proudly boast about their children’s salaries. But when the salary is not as expected, they just gloss over it. This has led to the mentality of only talking about salary when it’s high.

However, Chi found that this only holds true for older generations.

A recent survey by Deloitte shows that compared to previous generations, Gen Z does not value the importance of salary as much. When faced with choosing between a high-paying but boring job and an exciting but lower-paying job, Gen Z tends to be evenly split between the two options. In contrast, older generations lean more towards the higher-paying choice.

Because of a more relaxed attitude towards salary, they are also more willing to share about it when asked. It’s no longer just about bragging or making parents proud but also a form of surveying and seeking one’s value.

The young people who agreed to share their salaries with Chi usually want constructive advice and also want to know if they are being unfairly underpaid.

Source: Bamboo Careers

Being in Control of Your Time is Also a Form of Salary

The end-of-year 2023 report by Gallup shows that work pressure is still at a record high. Facing work pressure, many choose to “ignore” financial matters or prioritize other choices for themselves. At that point, salary is no longer the primary factor they consider.

According to a survey by Vietnamworks, besides salary, work environment, other benefits that make their work and life “easier” and being more in control of their own time are factors that retain employees.

In a recent clip, Chi had the opportunity to interview Mr. An (34 years old), a tattoo artist. He shared that between the choice of a regular job and his passion for tattooing, he had to work and study simultaneously for a while.

And when the right time came, he quit his current job to entirely switch to his passion. The income might mostly stay the same, but he believes that the job is more suitable for his orientation and personal values at that time.

Salary does not define us. But we still hope for a stable income to pursue our passions, cover living expenses, and save. Therefore, other work trends, such as side hustles, have emerged, allowing us to earn extra income while having control over our time to do things we like.

We need to be ‘advised’ about the basic salaries in our field

The imbalance in salary payment is still an ongoing issue in society today and could significantly impact your career. According to statistics from the Women’s Law Center in the US, throughout the course of a woman’s working life, she will earn between $150,000 to over $500,000 less than her male colleagues.

Not just women or minority communities in particular, maybe you are also being unfairly underpaid. And only by learning about market salaries and factors influencing salary can you negotiate a suitable number.

Chi noticed that many young people, especially recent graduates, tend to work and do overtime a lot, but they are not compensated fairly for their efforts. When asked, they still need more confidence in their negotiation abilities, primarily because they need to fully understand the market and the factors affecting salaries. Therefore, sharing and referring to market salaries can let you know if you are underpaid.

Source: Bamboo Careers

Chi believes that to promote salary transparency in the labor market, we need to change the mindset that salary is the only measure of a person’s value or that salary is something grand, defining us. From there, salary should become a topic everyone can access when needed.

Most recently, a manager who has achieved much success in his career proactively approached us, expressing his desire to contribute to our channel. He shared that he strongly supports talking about salaries, as it is common abroad, but Vietnam still needs more motivation.

From the comments and shares on the channel, we realize that many people are interested in salaries, but few dare to share about it. There are many young people looking for jobs or new career opportunities, but they cannot find someone who has gone before them willing to “advise” on the basic salary range of the industry.

Chi and Bamboo Careers hope to talk more about salaries and bring the necessary information to help you look up salaries transparently for your next interview.

Adapted by Tuong Nguyen