Managing Your Career: Growth Potential Versus Salary

I once had a friend who was so focused on a particular salary that she turned down a number of jobs that could have yielded her an amazing career in favor of a dead-end job that gave her the money she wanted immediately – but with no hope of a promotion unless someone else in her company dropped dead.

In accepting the job with more money, she made herself comfortable for the short term. After paying rent and her other bills, she had a small amount of money left for entertainment, though no cushion for emergencies unless she seriously deprived herself. She also ensured that she would work only the hours she’d signed on for: although she was paid an annual salary, hers was considered an “hourly” position, and she clocked in and out and – as she proudly announced – was not even allowed to work overtime.

I never understood this concept. To me, it sounded – and still sounds – like taking a very inactive role in one’s own life. At that time, I was working on salary, and was prone to working late some evenings, taking work home, and showing my face in the office or at conferences on the weekend. My monetary compensation was not high when I started out with my company. My paycheck was more likely to look like an allowance than actual wages. However, I had an excellent benefits package that was worth more than $10,000 a year (when you think about the cost of health insurance), and the potential to rise as high as my talents would take me. Within five years, I was earning a salary that was seven times the amount of money that my friend made and managed a staff that included four people with her same job title.

At the same time, though, I was working 12-hour days and many weekends, and frequently was required to travel for business.
Who took the better deal?

It’s important when conducting a job search to know what your future job expectations are. While your career may not take the exact path you hope it will, by understanding what it is you want from your job and your life, you will be able to more clearly determine the type of job you should take now.

Salaried positions will generally positions demand larger amounts of responsibility of an employee. Basically, a salaried employee will be required to work as much time as possible to get a job finished, rather than stopping work when the clock says to stop and picking it back up when the next workday starts. Salaried employees – even those not at management level – are often required to demonstrate project success rather than task success.

However, with the added responsibility comes the opportunity to show off skills and talents. You are more likely to be promoted – with the chance of a salary increase – if the boss can see what you have to offer the company in terms of creativity and results, rather than simply being part of a manager’s plan for success. Salaried positions also can provide more opportunities for such benefits as signing bonuses, vacation time, stock options, and other goodies.

On the other hand, taking an hourly position can prime an employee for a future management job – with careful career development – by allowing him to “learn the business from the ground up.” If you take such a job and have aspirations to become a manager, try not to stay too long in your hourly place – you could get pegged with the clock-watchers and find it difficult to move up the ladder.

Managing your career requires new tools like in order to stand out and manage your career and your results will be even better if you put your needs into perspective and work strategically towards your goals.


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