To start my journey towards becoming an “adult,” I updated my resume to look clean, polished, and professional. No more color, fancy fonts, or fancy symbols. CWM transformed my resume into something I couldn’t believe. I thought, is this really me? Wow, I sound like the perfect candidate! What really helped me was re-wording my resume to contain MEASURABLE actions, numbers, achievements, etc. This seems obvious but most resume’s don’t include these key factors.
Now that I had my professional resume I thought the job offers would come flying in. Unfortunately, they did not and so began my lesson in patience. I applied to the company of my choice (a Fortune 500 Company) over 100 TIMES! CWM kept saying, be patient, it will happen, just keep applying. I thought he was full of it but I did keep applying. I applied to every customer service position this company posted because I knew it was going to be hard to get in (this company has a reputation for being difficult to get your foot in the door). Finally, after more than 100 applications, I finally got a call back. I was finally going to be taken seriously and would be making more money than I had ever dreamed of (which wasn’t a whole lot!).
To put the pay in perspective, I was making $15/hour at the architecture firm job. At this job, I started at $13.25/hour (approximately $25k before taxes) and in the 5 years I worked there, my pay only went up $1.75/hour (approximately $32k before taxes). This is partly my fault as I never asked (or thought I could ask) for a raise. But once I started working at my “real” job my pay started out at $50k and every year there was a minimum 3% pay increase for inflation. During my 5 years at the Fortune 500 company my pay increased on average $5k per year (due to merit increases and promotions) and by the end of my time there, I was making over $75k! This was big as when I was in high school my “goal” was to SOMEDAY make $70k/year! I set my sights very high. 🙂
On that note, I want to add an important piece of advice I learned over my years in the corporate world. If your are unhappy in your current position, or if you have been in your position for longer than 2 years, look ahead to new opportunities either within your company or outside if there is another place you would rather work. Grow your network (both online and in-person), have informational interviews, keep applying to the company/position of your dreams. And don’t sell yourself short. Your time is worth more than you think (it took me a long time to realize this). Also, it is important to do research on the jobs you are applying for so you know the ballpark salary (Glassdoor.com is a great resource). Or even better, try to connect with someone on LinkedIn that used to have the job you want, request an informational interview, and if you think it won’t be too awkward, ask them what their salary was while they were in your desired position.
Most people LOVE to give advice or answer questions if someone requests an informational interview—wouldn’t you? I know for me, being asked questions makes me feel useful and increases my confidence. Not many people are willing to put themselves “out there” but it will be worth it in the end and you will have more opportunities to grow.
I always tell my husband that I feel like I have a secret weapon in the corporate world with all his useful advice. It’s like he is able to sift through all the mess of working in a corporation and make it easier to navigate and “play the game.” I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the advice of CWM. Now my secret weapon can be shared with others. I hope you find his advice as useful as I have.
– Corporate Wise Girl (CWG)
P.S. CWM and CWG love getting feedback, so feel free to share any of your own experiences in the comments below to share with the community.