Most people work in jobs that drain their energy away. Faced with mortgage or rent, car payments, student loans, credit card debt and other IOUs, most of what gets deposited to your bank as your ‘paycheck’ is gone by the first week of the month. You still have 3 more weeks left before the next paycheck comes.
It is these three weeks of the month where your average job feels painful, even throttling your creativity. It’s natural – when there’s money in the bank, you whistle to work; when it is gone, you drag yourself into your cubicle.
Want a Great Job & More Money?
You don’t have to be a boss to earn like one. Readers of Ten Factorial Rocks know that in the financial freedom ‘debate’ about more income or low expenses, we clearly lean towards the more income side. Not that we are against cutting down expenses, our view is to take the sensible approach. Income is the ticket to financial independence. That’s TFR family’s preferred formula for FIRE. I am working on a Guide on this very topic.
Finding a great job (that also pays you well) is an important engine in your FIRE journey. This article is not about finding a job but making you the right fit for a great job. There are a number of job search sites, networking sites, job portals and classifieds that you can find yourself that I see no reason to write about. So, this article is about how to position yourself for a great job.
First, let’s define what a great job is. A great job is one where:
- You are mentally stimulated to contribute to your employer’s business every day
- You have been given a meaningful set of goals (objectives) that are aligned with your own interests.
- You feel motivated to learn more in order to do well and be well.
- You get paid in the top 10% of all your peers in the industry with similar educational and career experience. Or you get paid enough as you deem it so while having the free/personal time as and when you want.
Notice this doesn’t talk about bosses, co-workers or any other job factors. They are all implicitly covered in the above points. What makes a job great is, ultimately, about you. With that as our definition, what can you do to move from your average job to a great job?
Sounds Greek But It Works!
A Greek dude named Aristotle came up with these concepts. They are simple, but not easy – nothing worthwhile is. Whether you are a Greek senator or a modern day professional, these methods have worked for hundreds of years and will continue to work for as long as humans are placed in a position to judge other humans.
They have worked for me and I hope they do for you as well.
There is no substitute for knowledge. Start with the journals, magazines and books written for experts by other experts in your industry. Even if you initially don’t understand everything that’s written there, stay with them till you do. That is your chosen profession so, you should aspire to be among the top 10%-ile of folks working in that profession.
If you don’t read the material for experts in your chosen profession, how will you become one? Knowledge is cumulative, and builds on what you learned before, just like the 10! effect.
In any profession, the top 10% are paid disproportionately higher than the rest. The best engineers, doctors or sales professionals are paid anywhere from 50-100% and even more than the average guys in the same profession. It pays very well to be among the top 10% in your chosen profession.
All the knowledge in the world is useless unless you find a way to convince others about the value you bring to the table. There is why you need both appearance and presentation skills. If you dress like a slob, people will treat you like a slob no matter how smart you may think you are. Always dress appropriately for the occasion. Many millennials think a torn jeans or a funky tee shirt makes them look cool even in a business setting but they have no idea how the decision-makers judge them even before they open their mouth.
After you learn to dress appropriately, sign-up for a conference, local professional meet or any such gathering of professionals in your industry. Befriend the organizers and ask for a presentation slot at the next event. If you have mastered a subject, and have done original research on it, you should know what are the top 3 pressing problems in your industry and be prepared to offer a solution. Your solutions need not be correct, or may invite criticism (that’s good), but you should be able to present them with confidence. Practice speaking before a mirror or a trusted friend, and get your diction and sentence structure right.
Even the most knowledgeable presenter with the best persuasion skills will not succeed if the audience is not ready for you. So, choose the employer you wish to impress and read about their problems (good places to learn these are recent industry articles and organizational change announcements, press releases, annual reports, social media posts, quarterly analyst calls etc. of the company you are targeting).
Know who you should meet – your objective should be to identify 3 people who have the decision-making authority in that company and read about their background in advance (LinkedIn comes handy here) . Then, find out what you can offer as potential solutions to a pressing problem they are facing. Prepare a brief handout on the problems and solutions you are proposing and seek an appointment – not for a job, but for a business proposal.
At the meeting, offer a no-risk proposal (at no cost) to them and if they appear undecided, even offer to work for free for one month to show progress and your abilities. Make this proposal conditional upon their giving you a job offer at the end of one month at a pre-agreed income level. If the salary on offer doesn’t put you in the industry’s top 10% for that role, then offer to work as a consultant till you are able to convince them you are worth more. In my experience, the salary they offer after you have worked as a consultant will always be higher, sometimes 50% higher, than what they considered offering before.
Working as a consultant helps you tremendously as well. You get to ‘test drive’ the company’s culture, management style and coworkers before you decide if you will enjoy working there. You may even decide to stay as a consultant if you like the freedom and money it provides rather than working there full-time as an employee.
Putting It All Together
If you rigorously follow the Logos, Ethos, Pathos sequence for every role that you want in your career, you will definitely land a great job. Or you will make the right connections that lead you to a great job. These aren’t some airport book recommendations written for the feel-good audience. Nor are these from self-help books with pithy maxims that don’t take you far. I mean, who quotes Aristotle for career advice? These are from direct personal experience from me – a practicing professional who used them to move up the career ladder.
Nobody makes money as a book author if the advice quotes some Greek dude who died hundreds of years ago. But he was the real deal – Aristotle was a genuine scholar and thought-leader, long before that word even entered the business world. So, the nuggets are repackaged – in shallow form – for the modern, irreverence-loving audience into ‘know your shit’, ‘don’t dress like an idiot’ and ‘know your client, stupid’ – all reduced to sound bites.
You don’t ever need a shallow career advice book if you learn these deep truths about Logos, Ethos and Pathos.
If you want to make more money in your career, work on your Logos, Ethos and Pathos. These are timeless truths to career success (accompanied by higher income), and you will become mentally fit to put them to work. You will earn like a boss and be treated like one, even if you choose not to become one.
Learning them is easy but putting them into practice requires consistent effort. But the rewards are worth it, especially if you wish to reach financial independence early and also, enjoy your career while getting there.