To ask how people get these jobs.(333 Posts)
I'm over 30, I come from a working class background.
I grew up with a mum on benefits single parent, 3 kids.
I tried though.
I went to iffy poly uni and got a crap degree (2:2) because I worked three jobs just to stay on the course.
It's not been easy but I've been willing to work as hard as it takes to make a life for myself unlike my childhood.
However, in the past 7 years I'm working I've barely scratched the surface and I am only on 25 grand and still at the bottom of the pile.
Today I had to attend a meeting where 60% of people present were some type of chief officer, cfo or head of major departments.
They all seem to have very distinguished careers and have attractive salaries way beyond my own.
My question is this how did they get there?
A lot of women on this site also seem to be high earners with lots of responsibility.
Does one have to be born into a wealthy family, know the right people or go to the best university. I have none of this.
Can hard work actually get you anywhere in life?
Am I destined to spend the rest of my life doing a low paid work despite my ambitions?
Am I being unreasonable do you think that someone from my background could ever rise higher?
Can anyone give me any advice about what I can do or how they progress in the phone their own career?
*how they progressed in their own career.
Wow this is going well!
Watching with interest, as I feel similarly left out.
No, I'm a CFO in a small business and I got a 2:2 and although my parents weren't poor, they weren't rich either!
I just push myself all the time, and will continue to! Have worked my butt off though.
You can do anything you want to, but I feel you have to be prepared to work super hard and constantly be gaining new skills and qualifications.
I stared work in a call centre at 17 part time after school.
Went to uni but had to drop out at end of 2nd year due to a sudden bereavement
Went full time in the call centre minimum wage
Became a team leader
Then took a quality manager role
Then a call centre manager role
Now head of uk customer service for a global organisation
Not on mega CEO money but steadily progressing and hoping to be on near £100,000 in the next 5 years by the time I'm 40.
I’m from a similar background to you. Not got a great first degree but do have a professional post grad qualification and always had to work hard to pay my way.
I’m middle management now, got my job through being confident, planning the early career moves well and being willing to apply for promotion opportunities as they come up. In my field to be promoted though you do need a professional qualification which means going back to uni.
In think often it’s having been exposed to the types of jobs and roles that exist.
I left uni totally unaware of usual, everyday job titles.
I think if your relatives / family friends had been accountants or project managers or civil engineers you’d have a wide general understanding of what you could do, what it would involve, how you’d get there
I knew about vets dentists and nurses but had no idea of the corporate world and I think that harmed my achievement
In my organisation the folk who do "well" are very career minded and very politically aware. ("short hand for would sell their grandmother's for a promotion ")
I’m mid 30’s. Head of department, and have a comfortable salary.
The secret? Moving jobs. I stay for a couple of years, and then look to move on up.
If you are on £25k, look externally for the next level up. Apply for it. You might not get it, but you’ll certainly gain an understanding of what you need to improve on to go up a rung.
So many people have misplaced loyalty to a company. It’s a lot easier to gain pay increases an an external candidate.
What jobs have you applied for?
Have you waited for your hard work to be recognised (this is quite typical for women). This rarely happens - you have to push yourself forward / ask for what you want.
If there aren’t opportunities at your current job - look elsewhere. Don’t assume you can’t get a new job is you don’t meet all the requirements. Apply anyway.
Confidence is key - as is fake it til you make it.
I am in a post which requires a degree but I don’t have a degree.
I have managed to make sure I always do a good job, network really well and make sure I maintain a good professional reputation.
Also I always apply for jobs I am not qualified for.
I’m senior. I was lucky to get involved with a start-up very, very early on so my role/responsibilities/salary grew with them. I’m a grafter and that has paid off. I was in work this morning for 7am, and I’m just leaving the office now. That’s not every day, but I do what I need to do each day to get things done. Sometimes that means leaving at 4 because the thing that needs to be done is my nails
My friend is the child of a single, teenage mother who worked as a cleaner. Friend is a Head of Tax for a global company. Again, she puts the hours in.
Move jobs every two years or so. Be charming and helpful and lovely to everyone.
Do not take sick days. Turn up on time.
I'm amazed how some young people doss around, are unhelpful etc and thus do themselves out of promotions etc.
If you're good and nice and fun to have around and work hard, it makes all the difference.
Very poor upbringing. Now executive level in a very large organisation. Was SAHM/part time whilst the children were young. I was a very high earner before stepping down to raise children.
Willingness to move around. Willingness to apply when it wasn’t a perfect match and able to demonstrate transferable skills.
Ongoing commitment to learning and development. Well qualified professionally.
Hard working, built good reputation, built networks.
Adapted and changed as job changed, learning new skills and understanding what organisation was wanting at any given time.
I now recruit to posts up to about 65k. I expect candidates to show the following
- no excuses about being poor or a rubbish university.
- evidence of ongoing learning in a relevant field - and a passion for lifelong learning. A masters, a management qualification, a specialist professional qualification etc plus an ability to learn through reflection and give examples of how they’ve changed in response to feedback or reflection. None of the I’ve got a 2:1 and so I’m educated. It has to be understanding your shortcomings and addressing these.
- Total and demonstrable buy in to our values. Any spin on a cv sees it go into the bin as a lack of integrity whereas a shortfall honestly explained gets a thumbs up.
- An understanding of the organisation, the business plan and strategy, knowledge about the role including what the challenges might be and how you’d address them.
- an understanding of appropriate dress for the role.
- good timekeeping
- a warmth and ability to command a room.
I left school with no qualifications at all, started doing lots waitressing, bar work etc
Then started to do some of the admin for the manager around this (rotas) training new starters. Then with this experience registered with a local temp agency and told them I would do anything (was sick of working nights and weekends) started doing really crap admin jobs but always did the best possible job I could. Got offered a perm job in a recruitment agency, was very diligent, hard working but most importantly started doing additional tasks that I identified as value adding to the business. I've used this tactic in every role I've done.
My advice is to upsell yourself to your organisation, identify something i.e process that could be more efficient. Flag it to your manager and tell them how you are going to solve it, then solve it. You cannot stop doing your day job whilst you are doing it though. Use this experience and pro active approach to get promoted or find new roles where you can demonstrate what you have done and how.
Most people do a job and say things like "they should do something about that" be that person who does
I've had a bit of luck but also some very tough times to get where I am, sometimes if you need to carve it out yourself. It won't happen overnight but employers like people who can demonstrate solving problems as well as doing their job
Good luck 😉
I know some shockingly incompetent people who’ve blagged their way up the ladder by basically licking the right arses. It’s not always about talent
I'm from a similar background as you - left home aged 17, worked 3 jobs (7 days a week) to put myself through uni. Started working, saved up enough to do a science conversion course and then a masters degree. Started a new career as a scientific advisor on £20k. Then kept going after promotions. It took me 8 years post-masters but now I'm on £85k. The secret for me was finding something that interests me (otherwise it's just not worth it) and then persisting.
I grew up on a rough council estate. Went to university as a mature student. I'm now at board level.
A bit was down to luck but some things that I think helped are:
Moving jobs every 2-3 years - as someone else said it's easier to negotiate pay if you're external.
Applying for jobs where I meet 60% of their requirements. Women tend to wait until they meet them all. Don't do this. Not all requirements are necessary for the job.
Losing my regional accent
Changing my first name to something not perceived as "common"
Building internal and external networks - ask questions and show interest in other departments, you never know where opportunities might come from
I was brought up by my single Mum, she always worked (was a teacher so did supply when we were younger before getting a perm job).
I didn't go to uni, worked all through school, from age 13, had 3 part time jobs when I was doing my a-levels, decided I'd rather get experience & earn £ than go to Uni - got an entry level job in a small family run Co. That saw my potential, put me through college & Uni, qualified in a prof qual & have been in a v good position since.
I could earn more, but I have weighed up the commute & flexibility so am ok where I am.
What do you do OP?
I think drive is the biggest factor. I could easily be earning at least twice my current salary if I had pushed myself hard over the last 5-7 years but I wanted a good work-life balance.
I have seriously put the hours in though, not just focusing learning on the area of my qualifications an£ so have a very wide sphere of experience and knowledge.
I grabbed every single learning opportunity that was there, asked lots of questions, listened and always tried to work out ways to resolve questions.
I feel a bit funny about what OP wrote.
I went to a Uni that no one on MN ever heard of. I worked 15-35 hrs/week 5/6 of my university years (took that long to get BA). I moved continents & had to start from scratch so no networking to get me ahead in life.
Wealthy family? No. Or maybe wealthy doesn't mean what I think it does. Both my parents grew up poor. My own earnings funded 80% of my university tuition & concurrent living costs.
My current salary is just above OP's... true, b/c I just jumped industry. There is a 20% payband hike in 4 weeks thank goodness. I reckon mental health issues held me back or I'd be on £70k+ at this point in life, but that's ok. I made peace with it. I find other challenges & satisfaction in what work I do.
If you were my friend to talk frankly to, OP, I would say just go for every opportunity you can to extend yourself & upskill & keep work interesting. You sound pretty young still and there's decades ahead to develop in.
My brother is extremely clever but was bone-idle at school - he failed half his O-levels and all 3 of his A-levels.
In his mid-twenties he realised his friends who had gone to uni were earning far more than him so he went to uni in the evenings - he did a part time accountancy degree.
Now, twenty years later, he’s very high up in a global accountancy firm and earning a load of money.
His story makes me think that talent does count for a lot, but sadly I think luck probably played a large part too - he was extremely fortunate to get the breaks he did.
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