Author Topic: What actions have had the highest impact in advancing your career (and salary)?  (Read 15976 times)

intotherealworld

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Can anyone give examples of things they've done that had a significant positive impact on their job/pay?

Miss Piggy

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I changed careers. I was maxed out at about $32,000 in my previous career. Decided to change. Got a master's degree in a whole different field, and my income doubled, then continued going up from there. Best decision I ever made.

boyerbt

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For me it boils down to several easy tasks as the vast majority doesn't even try. People have a tendency to think that everyone else is unaware if they are slacking off but this is false, everyone knows. I have received several bonuses and pay increases without having to complete a request form because I show up and get my work done while others complain about a small cost of living adjustment.

  • Arrive to work on time, be consistent, and dependable
  • Complete tasks assigned to you without people having to micromanage you
  • Be proactive at work to solve problems whenever possible

Saskatchewstachian

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Not sure the industry you're looking at but the biggest change for me recently has been moving from a cushy office environment out to site.

I was around 68k in the office then filled a temporary role at site so with site bonus and OT it went up to ~100k. That temporary role at site has turned into a permanent role which means an adjustment to base pay so compensation is now up to ~129k.

Obviously working away from home Mon-Fri doesn't work for everyone but it is a great way to build a stash in just a few years. That and the willingness to push for a role where you want it, I knew I wanted to be involved in the work happening at site so I spoke with supervisors and pushed to get into the temporary role and so far it was led to a 88% pay increase in <6months

Roboturner

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I gambled and took a ~50% pay cut to switch to a small up and coming company that was in a good position, 1 year later we sold, got a hefty bonus and was brought on to the new company at nearly double my previous salary

Guesl982374

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1) Choose a profession and industry that's 'in demand'. Research salaries, trends, etc. Another way to put this is "Don't follow your passions at work, follow the money".
2) What boyerbt said. I've had a similar experience where I've received multiple off cycle raises/bonuses because of results delivered
3) Realize that your employer is only going to pay you based on the results you have delivered. They wouldn't hire you if there wasn't a positive ROI on your salary. Drive higher results --> Drive higher pay. The more money I make for my employer, the higher my skills are valued and the higher compensation I am able to drive (both with the company and if I were to get a different job)
4) Sometimes you will need to switch companies to capture a higher salary. You are worth more to a company looking to hire than you are to your current company because complacency sets in
5) Self Improvement: Get a masters degree, get a mentor, network, read books like "How to Win Friends and Influence People", etc. The payback, in salary, is over a few year time frame. Don't get discouraged
« Last Edit: August 30, 2018, 09:47:36 AM by Liberty Stache »

Del Griffith

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  • Arrive to work on time, be consistent, and dependable
  • Complete tasks assigned to you without people having to micromanage you
  • Be proactive at work to solve problems whenever possible

Agreed. Getting work done thoroughly and within timeframes/policies without needing anyone to hold your hand goes a long way. I kept my head down and did what I needed to do without being a squeaky wheel (unless a situation warranted supervisor involvement) not knowing anyone was watching and ended up getting a couple promotions.

tonysemail

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I got a M.S. Engineering management.  I asked for a promotion and got it.
Really put in the time and worked unreasonable hours for a number of years.
Then serendipity struck!
over a few years, the company went through a period of change - lots of reorgs, changing managers and project cancellations.
It really sucked.  But now the company had huge retention problems and started bringing people to competitive market rates.

2Birds1Stone

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Changed careers.

I was averaging $52-55k/yr in retail management and left 2 years ago next month.

Got into commissioned sales.

Year 1 - $109k
Year 2 - $160k

GreenSheep

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Choose an in-demand field and be willing to follow that demand to wherever it's greatest (within your state, country, or even world, to the extent possible depending on your personal life circumstances). I've seen variations of over 100% for the same job in my field in different parts of the U.S. alone.

Pay attention to ads for people who are doing exactly the same job you're doing, in exactly the same location, and make your employer aware of offers that are higher than what you're currently making. This is how I got a 25% raise.

And yes, do your job well. Even if it doesn't get you a raise, it should at least keep them from wanting to get rid of you. Not to mention having a little pride in your work just feels good.

NV Teacher

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Really the only way to increase your salary in education is to get additional degrees, certificates, and credits.  My district has a big new professional development plan and if I can get the work done in two years I'll get an $8,000 raise.  It's a TON of additional work but since I topped out on the salary scale years ago I'm going to bust my butt to get the credits because that raise will be nice.

Little Aussie Battler

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Accepted a challenging and high-risk role overseas.

Thedividebyzero

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After 4 years with my first company out of college, i scheduled a career discussion with my boss where I talked about my long term professional and income goals.   I was a well regarded employee, felt like I had demonstrated my value and had a great boss that I trusted.  She laughed when I told her my 10 year goals.  She basically said it wasn't going to happen at that company, so I started looking for a job the next day.

I looked for a good company that I thought was set to ride a technology trend (I am an engineer).  I took a job in a part of the country that I really didn't want to live (turns out it is a great place).  After the first month, I told my wife that I was going to need to work very hard to distinguish myself from a very talented staff.  So I put my head down, worked hard, tried to anticipate what my boss wanted, treated everyone around me with respect and took every challenge they threw at me without complaint.

I have now been with company #2 for 11 years and have exceed the income goal I set 10 years earlier by 2.5X.  Soon I will be FIRE!!  :))))

I admit that I was lucky.  I found a division in a company that was growing like gangbusters and where my skills and personality were valued. 

My advice:
1.  Have some long term objectives and stick to them.  Don't get distracted by every shiny object that comes along, but also don't be afraid to make a change if you don't think you are on the path to achieve your goals.
2.  Work hard, smartly and do things the right way.  Follow the golden rule at work.
3.  Be a dependable and low maintenance employee.

CanuckExpat

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Negotiating on jobs offers and making it clear salary is important.

Changing jobs when possible and being open to new opportunities and higher pay.

Going from "permanent" salary to contract hourly at a higher rate.

randymarsh

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Bachelor's degree (in lucrative field), moving to a large metro area, and quickly leaving my first post college job once it was clear I would never be valued or grow.

Astatine

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Posting to follow.

Johnez

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Doubled my wages by casting a wide net. Was planning how I was going to save my fortune with piddly $0.50/hour raises. Girlfriend encouraged me saying I was worth more. Blitzed many big food companies with applications, got my foot in the door after 2 years, went from $12 an hour w/out benefits to $25 an hour, 3 weeks PTO, health insurance, retirement, baby bonding....

gggggg

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For me, it was just putting in for promotions. I tend to turn opportunities down (with everyting, jobs, women, everything). They practically begged me to put in a few years ago, and I snubbed the leadership. I would be overall second-in-charge now if I had just put in. I did take one step up recently though (about time).

cdttmm

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Having the audacity to take on projects that no one else was interested in that I was sure would create new (and highly profitable) revenue streams in an organization. I was right four out of five times. The one time I wasn't right turned out to be beneficial in other ways as it allowed me to grow the network necessary to insure the success of one of the other projects.

Rubyvroom

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First, choose your career wisely. An in-demand career will leave you countless options. Choose something that is in demand and pays well.

Second, be good at what you do and build a reptuation / network of people that will provide you opportunities. Don't show up to work in crappy clothes if you want to advance in your career. Show that you want to be promoted and you're ready to take on new roles. Do little things that make you stand out among your peers, like (obviously this is career-specific, but for me...) giving presentations, or leading trainings, etc. Be so good at what you do that you free up time for yourself to volunteer for new projects. Just constantly show that you are ready for the next thing they can throw at you. This doesn't mean working a ton of wasted hours. Face-time is a dumb concept. Give them the results they want and you'll be singled out as a "high performer" and given more opportunities. If you aren't getting opportunities to advance at your current company, go find them at a different company (segue to the last bit of advice).

Lastly, and this may sound like millenial tripe but... jump around to different companies. You will have access to many more promotion opportunities and will receive far larger raises by negotiating a market rate salary with a new company than you (likely) will at your current company at your standard 1%-5% annual raises. If you notice your company is not promoting you within 2-3 years or you have a person directly above you that is a lifer and is blocking you (and there's no way to laterally move to continue your career advancement), leave. Jump around for your promotions. My first job was $45K and I would have continued to receive ~3%-5% raises. First raise was to $48K. Next raise would have been just over $50K. I job hopped to a higher role at $60K instead. Then after staying in that role at ongoing 3% raises for 4 years to around $68K (longer than I'd suggest - 4 years with no promotion on a resume in your late 20s makes you look either lazy or un-promotable), I job hopped again to $80K. Then, after a year and a half in this new role I saw an opportunity to advance within the same company but different department and negotiated up to $90K. My latest job hop was a large promotion that took me from $95K to $115K. If a company wants you, they are far more willing to pay a premium to get you in the door than an existing company will pay for you to stay with their lousy 3% annual raises. You of course have to be good at what you do to make the company want you, hence the second bit of advice above.

marty998

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I actually found the opposite to what most people are describing here.

My significant raises have come because I have hung around long enough to prove that I'm worth it.

Fair play to those who can negotiate well in an interview, but that's not how I've managed to increase my salary.

Sure I get the standard 2-3% most years, but every 3 years or so there's been 10-20% jump as well as my responsibilities have gone up.

Rubyvroom

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I actually found the opposite to what most people are describing here.

My significant raises have come because I have hung around long enough to prove that I'm worth it.

Fair play to those who can negotiate well in an interview, but that's not how I've managed to increase my salary.

Sure I get the standard 2-3% most years, but every 3 years or so there's been 10-20% jump as well as my responsibilities have gone up.

That's definitely a better situation if you find yourself in it. If you're able to advance within your company and they keep up with market rates, that's not a bad thing at all. That would be far easier than hopping on a new learning curve every few years at a new company!

As a side story... my current company was trying to fill two Accountant roles last year. The jobs were posted for EIGHT MONTHS before they could find people. I told them they obviously needed to raise the salaries, because there never seems to be a shortage of accountants in our market... they finally ended up having to go back to HR and say this is not working, we need to pay more. HR said they can't raise the salaries on the posted positions and still maintain internal equity among their current accountants. They ended up having to give some mid-year market increases to their existing employees so they wouldn't be hiring new, inexperienced people at a much higher rate. It was kind of a mess. Companies more often (in my experience) fall behind market. The current accountants were ecstatic to receive those raises, seemingly out of nowhere, but the truth of it was they were severely underpaid for years until the company had to hire externally and realized those salaries were way behind market. That doesn't happen everywhere of course, but is an easy trap for companies to fall into as they try to keep their costs low year over year. Then they wonder why turnover is so high... smh.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2016, 06:54:24 AM by Rubyvroom »

ketchup

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GF and I work in vastly different areas but I suppose both can be summed up the same way:

Be good at what you do, make an effort to constantly get better at what you do, and take opportunities when they're offered to you on a silver platter.  Double-down when you find something that works; don't necessarily try to improve something outside your main focus.

TheDuder

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My biggest jumps so far have come from switching companies.

aspiringnomad

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Work hard for promotion, stay long enough after promotion to not burn any bridges, then jump ship for higher pay. Wash, rinse, repeat. Did that three times, but now I'm good where I am until FIRE.

Lanthiriel

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For me it's been:
1. Being willing to change jobs when it's clear I've hit a ceiling.
2. Figuring out how to make sure my higher ups are aware of my accomplishments without outright bragging. If your work is going unnoticed, that's on you.
3. Playing to my strengths. I'm very honest about what I'm good at and make sure to find others in my team to partner with to deliver the best product rather than do it all myself. Then I make sure that while I'm doing #2, I'm also advocating for the folks who helped me. A rising tide lifts all boats and all that.

In my short 8-year career, I've never had less than a 5% raise and I've jumped up 20% in salary both time I've changed jobs. I still don't make a ton of money, but I'm an English major, so I'll take my $65k/year.

ysette9

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I got the good degrees and good grades and got a job in an in-demand field at a big, stable company. That was just the beginning though. From there I think a few things have helped me advance more quickly than my peers.
  • Performance - nothing else means a thing if you don't have a solid base of performing well
  • Job rotations - that has allowed me to get a bigger breadth of experience than most in much less time
  • Mentors - I have gained a lot of advice and help from several well-placed mentors

brute

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Switching careers: $30k to $50k
Getting a Bachelors in computer science. Bump from $50k to $70k with a new job
Getting a Master's degree. Bump from $70k to $120k (by seeking a new job that appreciated the degree)
Working harder than everyone else: Means I get bombarded with opportunities and when I decide I want to change venues, I can within a couple months.
Working a second job as a consultant in my field. Extra $60k a year with about 20 hours a month of work.

But the biggest benefit was Cultivating Confidence. I had to be willing to walk into a place, listen to them ask for skill sets that no one has, tell them I could do it, and believe myself that I could. Of course, then I had to work my ass off to get it done, but within a few months, I was doing just fine and the employers were happy with me.

BuffaloStache

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Negotiating on jobs offers and making it clear salary is important.

This, 100% this. Sometimes a ~5 minute awkward conversation can add up to 10% of your base salary, and then yearly adjustments get added on from there. The higher you can start at, the higher your growth is each year.

Being willing to change jobs when it's clear I've hit a ceiling.

I'm bad at this (I think I may be at a ceiling now), but working to get better at this one.

use2betrix

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For me it boils down to several easy tasks as the vast majority doesn't even try. People have a tendency to think that everyone else is unaware if they are slacking off but this is false, everyone knows. I have received several bonuses and pay increases without having to complete a request form because I show up and get my work done while others complain about a small cost of living adjustment.

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  • Complete tasks assigned to you without people having to micromanage you
  • Be proactive at work to solve problems whenever possible

This is a very very good post. There's tons of "soft skills" that are way underrated. No one cares how smart you are if no one likes to work with you.

I made 56k my first year in the industry at 21.

This year at 28 I will have made 233k by November 15th, which I plan to be my last day of work for a few months and pursue work again next year.

I'm way behind intelligence wise in a lot of areas. I'm not that big on small talk so don't have a ton of connections. I don't like a lot of people really.

That being said, I excel in soft skills, following up with tasks, and doing everything I'm supposed to. It's amazing how many people struggle to do the bare minimum and it makes no sense. I don't have a great memory but I can acknowledge that and thus know I need to write everything down. And make lists and reminders constantly.

intotherealworld

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Switching careers: $30k to $50k
Getting a Bachelors in computer science. Bump from $50k to $70k with a new job
Getting a Master's degree. Bump from $70k to $120k (by seeking a new job that appreciated the degree)
Working harder than everyone else: Means I get bombarded with opportunities and when I decide I want to change venues, I can within a couple months.
Working a second job as a consultant in my field. Extra $60k a year with about 20 hours a month of work.

But the biggest benefit was Cultivating Confidence. I had to be willing to walk into a place, listen to them ask for skill sets that no one has, tell them I could do it, and believe myself that I could. Of course, then I had to work my ass off to get it done, but within a few months, I was doing just fine and the employers were happy with me.

What a great progression! It's a very interesting point that you mention they ask for a skill set that no one has, and the important thing is to have confidence in yourself that you will be able to get the job done.

How did you go about cultivating this confidence? It sounds like you've done it quite intentionally?

totoro

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Starting my own business in my field.

phalipi

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Firefighter here. If you want to advance in this field you have to take promotional exams and have enough time on in each position to be able to test for the next position. There also has to be people retiring or new stations opening for positions to come open. I started out as a hoseman. Did that for four years and I was eligible to test for driver. Study material is roughly 2k pages taken from several text books and the department procedures manual for a 100 question test. Studied my butt off for 4 months, 5-8 hours of studying most days, and made a 94. There was over 80 other people taking the test, and after seniority points came into play, I ranked #8 on the list (even though I had second highest score). I was able to promote to driver my first try thankfully. Pay went from 50k to 65k. 4 years later decided to test for Lieutenant and I made a 98 and ranked #1. Pay went from 72k to close to 80k where I am currently as Lieutenant.
The only bad thing about this process is that some guys that have no business being in an officer position can take tests really well. There is no interview or skills process. Make a high grade and a position open, boom it's yours. I think these guys forget that with the higher pay, you actually have to know what the hell you are doing when leading men into dangerous situations. There are also some lousy crews out there because their officer doesn't manage the day to day activities around the station well either. It's true that bad leaders make very bad followers.

Mrs. Arby

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I switched to freelancing. It is, of course, not without risk, but i doubled my income by doing that. I also feel there is less stress involved working in freelance jobs. The corporate BS doesn't get to me so much anymore.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 01:56:21 AM by Mrs. Arby »

mustachepungoeshere

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I stayed in a lower-paying job where I was given free rein to lead my own projects, develop new skills and find the best way possible to reach the company's goal.

I then took those skills and landed a new job with a $11k bump in pay and entitlements.

My husband freelanced (often unpaid) for the job he wanted before he actually landed that job. People were noticing this, and in the end he didn't apply for his job, he just received a phone call one night saying he was in.

He then worked long hours, weekends, nights, produced a huge amount of work, and pissed off a few people who weren't thrilled with the change in the status quo, all to be promoted above those people.

BadassEm

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Great question and good feedback on this thread!

For me, the biggest jumps have been via:
1. Proving my competence through good work
2. Having good timing and quitting while I'm ahead... going out and getting job offers if I'm not liking the role or feel undervalued salary-wise.  In one case this resulted in a bidding war and I wound up staying with the company I was trying to leave because I was promoted and given a large salary increase
3. CONNECTIONS -- I hate schmoozing, but it's necessary.  In the past I've noted when someone in a high-power position compliments my work and I've asked them later on if they're comfortable being a reference for me.  This may not be good for people mid-career, but if you're starting out, it's important having good references.  I've received scholarships and great jobs largely because of distant, high-profile contacts who were willing to write reference letters for me or pass my resume around.  Most executives love doing that kind of thing for good workers (and taking credit for your achievements later on).  Also, If an exec passes your resume to HR, you are set to negotiate a good salary coming in the door. 
4. Staying long enough at a company to have a reliable resume and build skills, but moving on when when I'm no longer learning (I guess this might be a repeat of #2).  I need to heed my own advice on this one since I'm on the cusp of staying too long at my currently company.  I'd love to figure out a way to move my role to an independent contractor position at my current company...
5. Finally, I think writing and speaking skills go a long way too and have helped me

arebelspy

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For us it was doing something OUTSIDE our careers that boosted us quickly to FIRE.

We were both teachers, and made very little, but loved it.  So we did real estate on the side, and that got us to FIRE.

So it wasn't advancing our career/salary, but doing the career for fun, while going elsewhere to earn our FIRE funds.  Something maybe a little different than most the replies here, but something to consider.  :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Freedomin5

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For me, it was going for that "stretch" job, the one that you feel is beyond your skill set. So for example, as a newly minted teacher, the "safe" job might be the local public school, whereas the "stretch" job would be the much better paying position in the posh private school. That's how I landed one of the top positions in my field in my city within 3 years of graduating. Also, I went somewhere with a high demand for my skill set and not much supply (not many people who can do what I do).

BuffaloStache

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4. Staying long enough at a company to have a reliable resume and build skills, but moving on when when I'm no longer learning (I guess this might be a repeat of #2)...

I know that it may vary from company to company/career to career, but do you have a range of how long is "long enough", or how short is "too short"? I think I might be hitting that wall in my current job.

BadassEm

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4. Staying long enough at a company to have a reliable resume and build skills, but moving on when when I'm no longer learning (I guess this might be a repeat of #2)...

I know that it may vary from company to company/career to career, but do you have a range of how long is "long enough", or how short is "too short"? I think I might be hitting that wall in my current job.

You're right, I think it would depend on where you are in your career and the industry you're in.  In my early twenties, I jumped jobs every year or every two years. The last two company's I've worked for I stayed 4 years at each and had 1-2 promotions during the 4 year periods (I'm still working at one).  I think 4 years shows you're committed and dependable, maybe even 3.  Less than that, unless you're early on in your career, might make you an iffy investment for a company.

It all depends... I've worked really hard and grinded out the years, my brother on the other hand jumps around job to job, wherever his curiosity takes him, has had stretches of unemployment and inexplainable gaps in his resume,  still he's hugely successful and has companies giving him large stock options to try to retain him. 

You probably either have to grind it out and show you're loyal, valuable, dependable 3-4 years at a time, or be the best in your field/super talented so that company's seek you out and you don't have to prove yourself on paper.

RedmondStash

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I'm not the ambitious type, so I haven't tried to advance my career exactly, but here are things I've done that have improved my work quality-of-life:

- Building up FU money, so I can easily leave jobs that are problematic. FU money also makes you less stressed, which improves your attitude and the quality of your work.
- Carving out an unusual niche for myself, so my skill set is in demand.
- Asking for raises, even though it's stressful and scary. (Having FU money also helps bolster confidence for this.)
- Doing damned good work, autonomously, so my managers and colleagues know they can depend on me.
- Doing a lot of freelance work, a few months here, a few months there, so I could get away from bad jobs without looking bad: oops, contract's up, so sad, buh-bye now. (Yeah, I've had some really bad jobs.) This also makes it easier to ask for more money, since sometimes the best way to get a raise is to leave for a new company.
- Jumping on appealing job opportunities hard, networking to get my resume on the right desk. This has led to more than one really plum gig, which has beefed up my resume, which makes me a more attractive candidate for future gigs. I mean, dude, I've worked at 343, Epic Games, and Valve. Having a high-visibility job history on LinkedIn gets you noticed, which puts you in a good bargaining position.

Good luck.

MrsPete

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Can anyone give examples of things they've done that had a significant positive impact on their job/pay?
Without doubt, the #1 thing for me was earning a college degree when I was still young and straight out of high school.  I know people knock college these days, but I couldn't hold the job I hold now without a degree. 

When I was originally hired, I was essentially "a temp" filling in for an employee who was out on leave ... and I took that seriously.  I did my job well, volunteered for extra duties, and just generally made myself visible as a good employee and department member.  I did not whine about working hard.  Within months, I was offered a permanent position. 

brute

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What a great progression! It's a very interesting point that you mention they ask for a skill set that no one has, and the important thing is to have confidence in yourself that you will be able to get the job done.

How did you go about cultivating this confidence? It sounds like you've done it quite intentionally?

If you ever did theatre or acting back in school, remember how it felt to turn off the part of your brain that says "No, I'm not Caesar, and crap, there's a math test next period"? That's what I had to do at first. I had to act the character of a confident person even though I didn't feel it. Eventually I got enough wins under my belt that I began to feel confident that I could pick up a new skill quickly, or compete with someone with a fancier degree. That's one aspect.

The other was practicing smiling in front of a mirror. Smiling does amazing things for your body, and it's hard to stay fearful when you smile. You can force yourself into a confident, better mood by doing something, even if you dont' feel it.

Finally, finding challenging hobbies. No one cares if the beer I make turned out bad the first batch (it was pretty good by the way), or if I was the weakest guy in the gym when I started. But I kept working at both until I began winning homebrew awards and winning powerlifting contests. Seeing work pay off is hugely rewarding for the psyche. I believe that's why most office work is so brutal for us, we don't see any real fruits from our labor. Knowing I can make things with my own hands has been huge.

BoonDogle

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As far as maximizing earnings, the biggest factors are choosing the right field, then choosing the right company.  After that, separate yourself from your peers.  If there is an opportunity to get into business ownership, that is the fastest way to move up tax brackets (albeit riskier as well).

hdatontodo

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The biggest thing that led to a large salary jump was a promotion followed by a reorg around the year 2000. My salary went from like 55K to 75K in a few months due to 2 promotions.

Drifterrider

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Can anyone give examples of things they've done that had a significant positive impact on their job/pay?

Got a college degree in accounting.  That was in 1999.  I make five times what I made then.

Schaefer Light

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Seeing work pay off is hugely rewarding for the psyche. I believe that's why most office work is so brutal for us, we don't see any real fruits from our labor.
You are 100% right about that.  It's why I love golf.  I can tell if I've hit a good shot within a split second after making contact with the ball.  In my office job, I have no idea if what I'm doing is any good or making any kind of difference.

Laserjet3051

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For career advancement (salary would elicit a totally different answer here):

Helping co-workers, mentoring coworkers, extensive brown-nosing of key decision makers, playing office politics better than most, taking on tasks/projects that nobody else wants, using supporting, enabling language (as opposed to negative, this wont work language [even if the idea wont work]), more brown nosing, engaging in high visibility projects, writing and articulating your point eloquently and concisely, speaking with confidence, sabotaging competition.

Its a ruthless landscape out there.

FIREby35

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I started my own business and learned to make money myself.

darkadams00

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Advanced degrees got me in the door, but my work product got me 4 promotions and more than 2x salary--in the same division in the same company. In the meantime, someone hired the same month as me has received exactly 1 promotion and probably commensurate salary bumps. A year after I was hired, I put in a recommendation for a candidate who was eventually hired. That candidate was a quick study and has followed the same path I have--completely leaving the other, slightly more experienced guy in the dust.

We hire competitively, and we track our folks on a "retention risk" matrix. Personally I look for specific examples of the following for new hires and existing team members. These qualities are beyond the technical questions that we ask new hires and monitor on our teams. They've been mentioned here and seem generic, but they are either easily documented during the interview and employee reviews, or they don't exist. We hire, compensate, and promote accordingly.

1) Solid work ethic. Don't complain that you have to work 48-50 hours a few weeks per year with a couple extra weekends sprinkled in around deadline time. Get 'er done! You have lots of weeks of "normal" schedules with a lot of envious perks. Don't let small details fall off your radar.
2) Take responsibility. Own your mistakes as well as your successes. Don't push your problems onto someone else or take/share credit for others' work.
3) Show initiative. For some this means pick up additional OTJ training. For others this means creativity and innovation. I have two guys in their 30s with patents pending. Others contribute new ideas, new approaches, and specific techniques that are rolled over onto new projects. My most recent graduate hire this year was a triple major in undergrad and a grad school ace with creative, formal presentations/seminars and/or research in every department at every level. To finish all of that in five years and at a high performance level required creativity, focus, and extreme attention to the details. And she has performed superbly in her first six months.
4) Be pleasant. If you're a grouch (a) most people won't want you on their team unless you are God's gift to your field, and (b) many clients will be reluctant to work with you unless you can prove to them that you are our free gift to them for the same fee. Often we have time to appreciate your skillset, but a client's short timeline doesn't allow them the same opportunity. That can hurt future project potential.