Saturday, 24 May 2014

How I Increased My Earning By Ten Times: Tips for Career Advancement







In 2005, I got a job in the English town of Colchester. It was with nostalgic feeling that I returned to the same town some years later having secured a new full-time job but this time around paying me ten times my previous earning in the town.How did that happen?

Let me share a few lessons I have learnt and applied that enabled me experience the transition, not necessarily because I regard the transition as some spectacular achievement in itself but in the hope that one or two of my readers will benefit from the tips as well.

Have a vision for your career
I wouldn't say I arrived at my latter destination by accident or mere luck. Long before I secured the job, I had conceived the dream of drawing remuneration in that pay range and had been working consciously towards attaining it. I not only knew with clarity what exactly I wanted and what I needed to do to get there, I was equally able to articulate in clear terms the specific career objectives I aimed for, right before they were actualized. Invariably, many of the decisions I took or didn't take were guided by the desire to actualise my career vision.

Learn from failures
For nearly two years after obtaining my first degree, I struggled hard to find a job. I submitted numerous applications without being shortlisted for interviews and where I was shortlisted, I was unable to prevail against the competition.

I eventually secured a graduate entry level job in the Civil Service but prior to that, I had learnt a number of vital lessons which I would later apply in life in my quest to multiply my income.What were those lessons

During the period that I struggled to get a job, I observed there were graduates like me who were actually getting good jobs, changing jobs at will or even creating jobs, the tough competition around notwithstanding. As a result, rather than blame myself or the environment I operated in or give in to learned helplessness, I undertook an objective assessment of the situation through which I identified a number of factors that hindered me in my quest to secure a job.

Summarily, I realized that my undergraduate experience did not prepare me adequately for the marketplace. In other words, I learnt in a hard way that I needed more than a ‘paper qualification’ to get a good job or advance in a career. To start with I realized I lacked clear career objectives. I wasn't sure of what I wanted or even what I should want.

I never knew how to write a good CV. I didn't know what it means to market myself or how to go about it. I wasn't sufficiently knowledgeable about graduate opportunities, where, how and what it takes to locate them. I didn't know about interview tests or how to prepare for them. I didn't know the importance of networking with colleagues, senior friends and influencers in the labour market. I never knew the importance of developing soft skills. I did not understand the power of excellent results as a tool for gaining competitive advantage. 

In essence, I realized I wasn't sufficiently equipped to compete in the marketplace. Having learnt from those mistakes, I took deliberate steps later in life to ensure I did not repeat them in my quest for career advancement.


Invest in personal development
It is often said that the best form of education is self education. I believe this whole-heartedly and it’s one of my guiding philosophies. I once made a resolution to be buying (not just reading or borrowing) at least two new books on personal development every month - books that will enrich my knowledge on what to do to enhance the quality of my life. In the course of time I built a library of books written by the likes of Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Kenneth Hagin, John Mason, Ben Franklin, Norman Vincent Peale, and John Maxwell among many others. 

I read virtually any material that could add value to my career and my life as a whole. I paid to attend seminars, spent countless hours listening to inspirational messages and browsing the internet for career-enriching information. I also gained considerable insights through my interactions with people who were ahead of me - at work and outside work.

Invest in increasing your earning potential
I learnt early that employers are willing to pay in proportion to the value they perceive an employee will bring to their ventures. To increase my value-perception to prospective employers therefore, I learnt I had to demonstrate I would be relevant to their needs, that I had what it takes to solve problems for them, and that my contributions will be such that they will not be able to replace me easily. I had to do this by developing knowledge, skill, attributes, qualifications and experience relevant to the needs in the marketplace and that will command a high price.


In the interval between my first and second Colchester jobs, I did menial jobs and sacrificially saved about £10,000 over a space of six months with which I financed my Master’s degree studies. The competencies acquired in the process enabled me implement a career transition from Biological Sciences to Health Informatics. Even after securing a job at the completion of my postgraduate studies, I continued to buy professional books, enrol for professional courses and spend considerable time after work developing my IT skills.


In the interval between the two jobs under reference, I experienced the direct impact of investing in enhancing my earning power a number of times. For instance, I once moved overnight from a Level 1 position in an organisation to a Level 6 position in the same organisation, instantly doubling my earning as a result simply on account of gaining higher qualifications.

I was once approached by headhunters offering me a deal to have my annual pay in a permanent role increased from £29,000 to £40,000.

I have had an occasion when the Deputy Chief Executive of a large organisation I once worked for was literarily looking for me all over the place to help on a project that had a huge impact on the organisation. That of course boosted my profile tremendously.

Be Current
One of the things I did frequently was to study high paying job vacancies in my field in order to identify what positions I could realistically aspire to and the competencies required to secure them. Even when I wasn't looking for work, I constantly checked online job sites, analysed job alerts and perused career articles in newspapers to identify employers preferences.


Whenever I met high flyers, I would research their background to see if there are secrets I could learn from them and to gain inspiration from their stories.

I constantly sought advice from friends who had secured better paying jobs than me. From them, I learnt the most effective ways to write a good CV, how to make them findable by employers and the best websites to find job vacancies in my field. From them I learnt what worked and what didn't work.

Network with others
In between transiting multiplying my income by ten times, I had done several jobs that ultimately aided me in making the transition. In the majority of cases, it was through my network: friends, friends of friends, colleagues and relations- that I got to know about the vacancies directly or indirectly.

Information on the first job opportunity I secured at the completion of my postgraduate studies for instance came through a friend working in that company. Even suggestions on the postgrad course I eventually pursued came from a friend and my brother-in-law. Much of the information I applied in making career transition and identifying training needs came from friends and senior colleagues. As much as I could, I endeavoured to build and maintain relationships with others.


Hard work pays
To experience that progression, I had to make sacrifices. Acquiring the knowledge, skills, qualifications, experience required to compete in the marketplace was hard work. Coming out from my comfort zone to pursue my career aspiration was hard work. 

One factor that ultimately proved valuable to me in the long run was the choice I made to break away from the 9-5 mentality. That entailed operating with the understanding that while my official working hours a day might be from 9am to 5pm, there are lots of valuable things I could do outside of that timeframe that will have a direct impact on the quality of results I delivered during my contractual hours. In essence, it demanded going the extra length to do whatever is necessary to deliver excellent results regardless of whether or not I eventually got recognition for it.

I found out that the extra efforts I put in ultimately turned out to be my to my own advantage because any extra competencies acquired by so doing remained with me afterwards, giving me competitive advantage in the push for better deals.

I enjoyed help!
I encountered numerous obstacles and temporary setbacks for which I received help to overcome. I had moments when I didn't know what best to do for which I received guidance from others. I had moments of discouragements and de-motivations from work and outside work. In those moments I drew strength from my faith in God. I also enjoyed the goodwill, advice, encouragement and support of my loving wife, my friends, my mentors, my managers, my siblings and loved ones. 

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