Today, I want to share with you my professional story. While discussing with my partner the other day, I realized that we have both climbed the corporate ladder pretty fast. We are now both working in 2 completely different fields in finance but we started at the very same place back in 2003… I went from an admin clerk making 30K to a financial professional making over 100K in only 5 years. That’s the equivalent of getting annualized raises of 27% per year. How did I go from 30k to a 6 figure income in 5 years? Here’s my story:
I finished my bachelor degree in finance-marketing back in May 2003. Prior to this date, I had already signed my contract with a big financial firm. The job was okay but it wasn’t exciting either. However, the point was to get hired by a company with thousands of divisions. My employer currently has more than 17,000 employees. This meant 2 things for a young wolf like me:
1) There is a lot of potential for promotions
2) I could try 5 different careers and still be working for the same employer for 25 years
When I started working, I was looking for these 2 things from my future employer and I didn’t mind my starting level. All I needed was an entry point. Because most of the good jobs in big firms are given to existing employees…
As an admin clerk, I was balancing trades all day long. The first 4 months were very interesting as I was learning about the stock market and how stock options work (I was in the derivative products department). However, after a while, you get tired of opening the same Excel spreadsheets and solving the same issues over and over again. This is when I quit my first job.
2 weeks after, I was hired by the same company but in a different department. This is where the real story started…
Before you start thinking you need to be a brown-noser to get promotions, I’ll tell you upfront: brown noses don’t get the real jobs. One day or another, somebody detects their little game and they get stuck where they are.
When I write about getting your manager’s attention I mean about by bringing results to the table. I’m talking about asking your manager questions in order to improve the way you work and behave.
If you do your job right, that’s expected. If you do your job better; it’s appreciated. What you need to do is to:
A) Do your job better than most people around you
B) Think about how you can improve your job or anything else in your department
Once I had mastered my new job (we were granting investment loans for high net worth clients), I was always thinking during the day (or after work!) about how I can improve the way I am work. I had setup a unique office organization and created many excel spreadsheets to help me improve my job. Each time I had an idea, I put it into place and then, I showed my boss the benefits of it.
By doing more than expected, I was always my boss’ radar and my name started to be heard in upper management. Some people told me that I was doing too much for what I was paid and that I should just do my job well and wait for my promotion. They were basically thinking that my extra work was just a freebie for my employer. I started this job at 37K in November 2003. In March 2004, I got my first raise of 5K… I was then making 42K. I guess my extra efforts paid pretty quickly after all.
On top of doing more than expected, I was also showing interest in getting a position higher than mine. I asked my manager how to get to my next promotion. Since he saw great potential with me, he guided me with what I needed to do in order to get the promotion I was looking for. At that time, all I needed to do was to follow his advice. This was because we had very open communication and I never hesitated to ask for his opinion.
A year later, in 2005, I got my first promotion and started taking care of bigger files. My salary went from 42K to 47K and my bonus was around 9K back then. I had now gone from 30K (with barely no bonuses) to a 56K job in not even 3 years.
I’ll continue this post next week with how I made the jump from 56K to more than 100K. But the last piece of advice I want to give you today is to beware of the water cooler. How many times have you heard an employee start bad mouthing the company he is working for, his department, his boss or even worse; another employee? This happens at the water cooler, in every cafeteria of every company. This is why you have to be very careful. You don’t want your name to come up as a trouble maker and certainly don’t want other employees to loath you because you are bad mouthing. During these conversations, always stay off the radar. You don’t need to be a fierce defender of everybody but you don’t have to participate either.
Next week, I’ll talk about how I made the big salary jumps to reach 100K. Cheers,
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