Starting may be similar. Progress is up to us, seriously.

The talk in the Melody FM a few mornings ago was about the expected salary of fresh graduates in Malaysia. It ranges from RM3.5k all the way to RM6k. Many called in with comments and I think everyone was condemning these unrealistic expectations. Allow me to share a real story just a few years ago, told to me by my marketing manager. Following was the conversation, after the fresh graduate has stated her salary expectations:
My friend:  May I know why you put RM4,500 as your expected salary? You are only a fresh graduate.
Interviewee: Oh, I have to put RM4,500 because my father gives me an allowance of RM4,000 per month. If I earn anything lower, he will ask why do I need to work. 
My friend: (Unsure whether to cry or laugh at her answer)
For me, I would just like to ask these fresh graduates, if they are the ones hiring, would they be willing to pay these salaries. I know, these days the argument is always about why is the pay only increasing by nearly nothing for so many years. Malaysia is such a bad place for fresh graduates. Haha. Allow me to share the few countries where the property markets are already internationally known and all three considered developed markets. Yes, even the property prices have reached price levels beyond many.
Hong Kong: The median monthly income for fresh graduates have DROPPED by almost 20 percent when compared to 20 years ago. Real case confirmed by even the Melody FM anchor, Chui Ling. Her pay then was higher than the pay of fresh graduates in Hong Kong today. An actual study based on the data from Census and Statistics Department on the salaries of fresh graduates was done by New Forum and New Youth Forum. In 1993, the salary was HK$13,158 and by 2013, it has dropped 17 percent to just HK$10,860. Property prices? Read here: Hong Kong is very expensive. Fresh cooling measures
rentalSingapore: Reported in on 28th February 2015, Median salary for fresh graduates in 2014 was $3,200. Quite a good number indeed. The only issue is that you better be staying with your parents because even rental for a room would already take up a huge chunk of the salary.  Note, if however you can change your lifestyle and stay in JB instead and commute daily, then your salary is going to be very attractive. Personally, not for me. For those who wanted to say HDB flats are so cheap….. ok……
London: According to  It said, “Graduate starting salaries at the UK’s leading graduate employers are expected to increase for the second year running in 2015, reaching a median of £30,000 for the first time.” Monthly is thus around£2,500. Pretty good salary especially for those who want to buy a car. Note that the same thing applies. As long as the fresh graduates are not thinking about buying a property, it should be fine. Renting a room? It’s easily £600 – 800 per month.
Sorry if you think I want to tell you that these countries are worse than Malaysia for fresh graduates. I seriously do not think they are worse. I just want to remind all fresh graduates again. Life’s tough in ALL or at least majority of the countries for fresh graduates who are just starting. In fact it’s extremely tough for majority to escape from the rat race into entrepreneurship for example. Majority of all fresh graduates would only graduate into a full-time employee paid normal pay until they retire. The best part is however, opportunities are available. Two weeks ago, I went to the wedding of a close young friend in Penang. His age? Barely 30. He’s already a senior manager in one of the Big 4 accounting firms. He completed his ACCA when he was just 21 years old. Worked extremely hard, always learn from many mentors and has also built up a property portfolio.
Compared to him, I may not be much but I also graduated at the age of 21, first salary was just RM1,750 and bought my first property at the age of 25. For the first few years, I saved like crazy and buying that first Ericsson phone took days of thinking. Some days in a month, it was just Gardenia bread with kaya and margarine. I survived. My close friend thrived. If you are a fresh graduate and you read till here, I think you understand what I am trying to tell you. We determine our own success and surprisingly, it has very little to do with our first pay. Happy working.
written on 18 Dec 2015
Next suggested article: Starting with a ‘peanut’ salary? Think ahead


  1. I heard a few similiar stories from my friend who are recruiting fresh graduate. one request for RM5,000. Another one requested for RM3,000 for a planner position. The reason given are pocket money given by parents is at this amount. So, who are the one to be blamed when this situation happen?

    1. Seriously? Parents are at fault lah…. RICH parents…. I will only say that I have told my wife ever since my first baby, our money is for us. At most, we will provide for education up to first degree. Plus one property so that they have a roof over their heads. All the best to them after that coz my wife and I hope to travel more. 🙂

  2. […] enough to cover the official inflation numbers but not our own inflation which may be far higher. Higher increments than average depend on one’s own diligence and is usually reserved for the above average working professionals. Just […]

  3. Hi Charles,
    I have been working for two years since graduating. I am 25 years old currently. Thanks for reminding me that we determine our own success and wealth. I should head back my goal to get a property this year like you.
    Looking forward to more posts about your life experience.

    1. Very cool LiangJianZhang.

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