Wealth in itself has no meaning, but the life you can live on more than an average wage has a lot to be recommended. What steps can you take to increase your career earnings so you can buy your own place, pay off the mortgage before you die, fly business class every now and again, eat out when you please and leave a bit on the table for the have nots?
Here is a quick glimpse of two above average earners in completely unrelated sectors and at different ends of their careers.
The story of ‘The Oracle of Omaha’, Warren Buffett, is that his senior yearbook entry read ‘likes maths, a future stockbroker’. At 85 years of age he is still arguably the world’s most astute investor and one of its top 10 wealthiest people. That didn’t come about because he was chasing coin. No, early childhood interests, a passion from the age of 11 for value investing, and hard work coupled with a solid education drafted the blueprint for his earnings potential.
Wootube has shot high school maths teacher Eddie Woo from obscurity to bright lights. Eddie Woo is the secret weapon of many of today’s Secondary school maths students through his WooTube maths lessons. He now has the potential to supercharge a modest teacher’s income through his passion and hard work. Thinking outside a traditional teacher’s role standing out front of a bricks and mortar classroom has made all the difference.
As you’ll see, it’s not rocket science, but if you follow these six tips to help you maximise your career earning potential, you’ll quickly be way ahead of your peers and well on the way to early retirement (if that’s what you’re after).
1. Pursue a career you like and you’re good at.
No use chasing the big bucks if you hate what you do. You’ve only got one life, so don’t waste 1/3 of your time on this planet doing something that doesn’t make your heart sing. Go ahead, pursue a career in the money market or in property because that’s where the pots of gold seem to be, but if you don’t actually like trading, and you’re not that good at it, you’ll find it unrewarding financially and personally.
2. Pick an industry sector on the rise
Digital, biotechnology, bio-medicine, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, Chinese tourists, education, aged care, renewable energy, data. There, I’ve just done your homework for you. What are you good at? How might it fit into those sectors? You can figure that out yourself.
3. Look ruthlessly at Supply and Demand
Regardless of whether you’re studying or on the first rungs of your career, start thinking about those fields where demand for labour outstrips available talent. Labour and Capital are on either side of an equals sign, but where Capital needs more Labour, you could find a x 2 salary uplift next to your name and earnings potential. Think Technology, Maths PhDs, Sales specialists, Metallurgy/geology, Actuaries, Agriculture. (Spoiler alert: common garden variety lawyers, doctors and accountants – those previously safe-as-suburbs professions are being sunk by oversupply and off-shoring).
4. Learn to Lead. Fast.
No matter what job, organisation or industry you find yourself in, leaders earn more than team members. Once you’re in the workforce, seek out projects and training opportunities that will build leadership skills. Invest in yourself and pay up for leadership development if your company can’t put you on a programme. Put your hand up for promotions that allow you to lead a team. Seek feedback on your leadership and find a great leader as mentor for your personal development.
5. Spend your discretionary effort on innovation
Like Eddy Woo, many jobs in large organisations or government sectors are paid according to strict salary bands. Love what you do, but know you’ll never earn what Freddy at JP Morgan takes home in month? Then think of ways to commercialise and clip the ticket, i.e. your single effort being rewarded by multiple payments from multiple sources.
Are you a government paid tour guide? I heard of one such chap who, on his day off would position himself with a professional placard ‘Free 90 minute Guided Tour’ at a common tourist site. His positive energy made him a magnet with tourists; he let them know about his passion for his home town, his unique knowledge and city secrets. By the time the tour was over, he would say, ‘It’s been my privilege to lead you on this tour today, and if you would like to give me a Tip, I won’t say No.’ He never made less than $100 for his 90 minutes. Sometimes he’d do two or three in a row. He loved what he did, and the extra $15,000 a year allowed him to get ahead financially.
6. Negotiate well
Learn the art of negotiation to be financially well remunerated. Here, I have to assume you’re damn good at your job. Keep a record of your contribution, identify those successes that would not have happened if you weren’t in the role, ascribe value to your efforts and make sure you know your comparable sector value. When it’s time to talk salary, never ever do it ‘on the hop’ alongside a discussion on another matter. Make a time in your boss’s diary, tell her or him what the discussion is about and be super prepared. Name the number you’re looking for and provide the evidence as to why you deserve it.
Earning above the odds is not good luck. It’s good management.