Job seekers in Singapore need to brace for a harder time when looking for jobs as unemployment rises. For the first time since June 2012, there were more jobseekers compared to job openings. While Singapore’s unemployment rate remain exceptionally low at 2.1 percent, job seekers need to prepare for a tougher hiring environment.

As previous job surveys showed, Singaporeans are often on the lookout for greener pastures, with more than a third of those interviewed “open to hearing about fresh opportunities” and some looking to fill a new role in the next 6 months.

What’s interesting is that while the top motivation to move from the current role is salary, the key retention factor for employees is actually work-life balance. This brings us to the question, “ Are we be blinded by our chase for money to know that what makes us happy is to have a life outside of work?”

While salary obvious ranks as one of the most criteria when it looks to looking for a job, there are many other factors that can determine your daily happiness when you turn up at work. Here are some that you may want to consider more about when you are choosing the next company to join:

1. Job Benefits

Other than money, other job benefits can make a big difference to your overall happiness at work. Sometimes, they can even help you to save extra money on top of your salary!

Job benefits such as overtime pay, additional transport allowances, travel opportunities, stock options and vacation days can all be quantified and add up to your salary package. So the next time you are looking at a potential job offer, have a look at the overall package instead of being fixated on the salary amount

2. Learning/Growing Opportunities

Whether you are a fresh graduate looking for your first job or a senior manager looking to fill a similar role as your last job, every job you take on should present you with the opportunity to learn and grow. This is not simply a difference in job scope, but an initiative that has to be taken at an organisational level.

Ask the hiring manager if they have an existing programme that helps employees to upgrade their skills and the chance to attend learning courses.

As a senior-level executive, you may want to look out for the willingness of an organisation to let you explore new opportunities and ideas instead.

3. Work-life balance

As mentioned earlier, work-life balance is a key retention factor for more than 50% of the job seekers surveyed, giving an indication that it can be important criteria. Having a good work-life balance can mean being able to leave work on time without having to deal with emails and calls after office hours, the ability to go for a holiday without your bosses calling you and not having to work on weekends.

Unfortunately, you may not know how the company does in terms of work-life balance when you go for an interview. What you can do is to look online for portals where employees give anonymous reviews about the company or ask around if ay off your friends know someone working there.

4. Boss

You may not meet your future boss in the first round of the interview, but you will definitely meet him or her somewhere along the way. During the interview, get a feel for the management style of your boss. Does he micro-manage? Is he the type to leave you to your own devices? Will he be a good mentor or is he so busy that all he needs is someone whom he can delegate work too?

If you ain’t sure, feel free to ask some questions about how he manages his subordinates and decide whether his style would suit yours. Remember, the interview is as much about the company as it is about you and your boss will be someone you deal with every day so choose wisely!

5. Company culture

Increasingly, human resource personnel are giving more emphasis to the cultural fit of the candidate. While job skills can be learnt, cultural fit is not something that one can easily adapt to. For instance, the start-up culture may require you to dip your fingers into all aspects of the company while an MNC may limit your job scope to a specific role.

If family time is important to you, you may also want to look for a company that has great pro-family policies, such as flexible-work arrangement. Finding yourself sticking out like a sore thumb and not being a part of the majority may hurt you and your performance in the long run so choose wisely!

Written by Lynette Tan

This article first appeared on

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