June 8, 2011, 6:47 am

How I Went From 30k to 100k in 5 Years

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Career
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salary increaseToday, 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:

Join a Big Firm

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…

Get Your Manager’s Attention

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.

Do More Than Expected

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.

Show Some Interest

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.

Beware of the Water Cooler

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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Wow! That’s very impressive. Unfortunately, teachers don’t have access to such raises. 😉 However, I wouldn’t trade my teaching for a big salaried position.

It is not surprising that you were able to do this if you demonstrated a lot of drive. Some employers will recognize that a self-motivated, driven employee is worth holding onto and rewarding with promotions and pay. It doesn’t even take much to stand out at times since most people are accustomed to doing the minimum just to get by.

It’s great that you had open communication with your boss, that he supported your aspirations and that he gave you tools/advice you needed to succeed (not that you didn’t do plenty on your own). I feel that supervisors like that are few and far between and it’s good to appreciate them when you have them. Now if only you could get enough information ahead of time to let that play into a decision on a job offer.

I’ve found that developing relationships w/ clients outside of work really helps too (if you’re in a client service role). When I was really junior in consulting I used to play poker and eat crabs with a couple of big wigs on the client side (both happened quite by accident…..really just by being outgoing). My boss couldn’t help but promote me with the relationships I developed.

Impressive stats! Im in a similiar situation but I’m having a hard time making the next jump. I’ve gone from 35k to about 60k(including bonus) in less than 3 years. Now I’m just trying to figure out the next step and i really look forward to reading your next article to see what you did next.

by: The Financial Blogger | June 8th, 2011 (10:37 am)

@Little House,
I guess you could increase your income via books or private tutoring. But as a teacher, it’s hard to climb the corporate ladder… as there are none ;-(

You are right, too many people are doing the minimum. I think that being a self-motivated employee is the best key to have salary raises and promotions.

@Car Negotiation Coach,
this is a really good advice! most employers will recognize the great relationship you have developed as they want to keep their clients.

great job man! I found that going from 50-60K to 100k was tougher than going from 30K to 60K… I’ll share with you all my “secrets” next week ;-D

I agree with you about it being way harder to make the jump from 60k to 100k. It’s easy to platue at 60k, so im very interesting in reading your posts this week. Looks like you hit a 100k at 28…..means i have to increase my salary by 40k this year to keep up with your pace. That’s an impressive feat you accomplished at such a young age.

That’s quite a success story! A lot of new employees right out of college are afraid to make those kinds of moves for fear that they might appear out of line, but a little tact and a lot of ambition can go a long way. It really is all about jumping in and not being afraid to go the extra mile – eventually, someone WILL notice. As long as you are smart with your finances and plan accordingly, making that much money that early on spells early retirement.

I’d be interested in learning how to jump from 30k to 100k in an online business. I know now that a big company just isn’t for me.

by: The Financial Blogger | June 9th, 2011 (3:28 pm)

@20 and Engaged,

You are reading into my mind, this is part of my future posts… still in draft thought 😉

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Good job on the pay jumps, it can be hard at our age (I am 28 myself). I am in the tech field and after the Army started at 67, then up to around 77 in about 2 years. I decided to go back overseas for the money after 2 years and went to 180, then found a job after 6 months for 245. I am hoping to stay over here until I finish my masters then come back around the 100k mark on the management side of things.

It is good that you are staying with one company, but I think that it is wise to always keep your resume on the market (at least in the government contracting business). You never know when the contract will end, and it got me a 36% riase after 6 months. There does have to be a balance there though. Too much jumping and companies may be hands off because they view you as a mercenary.

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