How To Land A Six-Figure Job
Via Forbes : Dear Liz,
I’m 41 and I think anyone would say my career is going well, but I cannot break the $100,000-salary barrier no matter how hard I try.
I know there is something I’m missing or doing wrong because my current boss, a VP, and my past manager both said “You are a great utility player” which is not what I want to be.
My strongest background is in Operations but I also have experience in Logistics and running a Customer Support department. My current salary is $93,400 but in this company, the next step up for me would be a Director role paying about $125,000 and I don’t see the leadership team here making any plans to promote me (not in the short term, and not ever).
What am I doing wrong? I would like to continue moving up in this organization or another one but I am stuck for some reason.
Thanks for your help,
I don’t blame you for wanting to earn more money or to keep moving up in your career. You feel that you are missing an element that you can’t put your finger on, and I agree with you.
Here is a way to think about career and life progress. You have a little flame inside you. It might be so small that you’re not sure it exists, but it does.
Your job is to grow that flame by doing things you love, constantly learning and expanding your horizons and giving and getting reinforcement from people around you. A big part of growing your flame is to make choices and act on them. That’s the hardest part for a lot of people.
They want to be team players. They want to go with the flow. They want to please their bosses, but that is not how you will succeed.
Working hard for someone else’s goals will not grow your flame. The best reward you can get from pleasing other people is to get gold stars, and sometimes the gold stars include six-figure salaries, but not always.
Your job is to face inward and focus on your needs, not your manager’s needs. You have to build yourself up from the inside. In your letter you didn’t mention what you love to do, but that is an important thing to know.
When you do more of what you love to do, your voice will grow. You will have stronger convictions and you’ll share your opinions. You won’t care as much what your boss feels — you’ll value what you feel, instead. That’s how people command respect and also how they rise up in an organization (or get tired of waiting to rise up, and start their own business).
There’s nothing wrong with being a “utility player” and some people love that role. If you don’t, then your job is to figure out what you do love to do and to do it, either at your current employer or another one. You’re forty-one. That’s plenty old enough to make your own decisions.
When you take steps to follow your own path, everything about you will change. You’ll get the salary you want and deserve because you stepped into it, rather than waiting for someone else to bestow it on you.
Too many people work themselves almost to death and wait for other people to notice and reward them. That’s a losing strategy. The most successful people don’t wait for other people to do anything. They take their careers into their own hands.
I’m sure there are some people who earn $100,000 or more who got lucky but for the most part, successful people are self-directed. They figure out what they want and then they go get it. Your first assignment is to figure out what you want, beyond the big bucks. Think about your career so far.
What have you loved to do and what do you want to more of? Next, take a step out of your comfort zone to get what you want. People won’t take you seriously until you take yourself seriously, and that is the hardest part of the puzzle. It is also the part that will help you the most. The minute you take the reins for your own career, your flame will grow.
The money will follow inevitably from those steps, because if one job isn’t meeting your needs, you’ll go to a different one.
A six-figure salary (or any salary) is not a gift. It is payment for services rendered. You decide the value of your services — no one else gets to do that. You are the only person who can determine whether you are being paid fairly. If you are underpaid, ask yourself why you tolerate that treatment.
Is it because you’ve decided to wait for the people around you to value you more highly? You’ve got the process reversed in your mind. Your job is not to wait around for other people to notice your contributions but to take your own step first, and value yourself more highly than you do!
That will become easier as you step into your power by saying “Yes” to the right things and “No!” to the wrong ones. Keep your focus on your flame. Sometimes when your flame grows your boss won’t like it, but that’s too bad for him or her. Bosses are a dime a dozen.
You can go to a new job whenever the old one doesn’t meet your needs, but you’ll only see things that way when your flame grows. Reading these words right now, you might think “Liz sure must think it’s easy to get ahead!” I do.
I do think it’s easy, once you and your fuel source are connected. Until then, earning a hundred grand a year and achieving anything else you want to achieve will feel very hard. They will be hard until you grow your flame. You can’t power a vehicle without gas!
You can’t power your career without an inner core, and that is where your six-figure salary project must begin.
A year from now, I predict that you’ll be earning six figures but more importantly, making your own career decisions versus letting other people make them for you.
All the best,
Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace.
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