5 Secrets to Earning a Top Salary

It’s no secret that some people get paid much better than others with the same level of competence. Sometimes the difference is attributable to having been born into the right family with connections to people who can offer entry into high-paying, fast-rising positions. Asian Americans, whose parents are often struggling first-generation immigrants, need not despair, however. By taking some commonsensical steps you can acquire most if not all of the advantages of being born into a well-connected family. Plus you will enjoy the satisfaction of having done it on your own!

One thing to remember, you can’t just get a top salary. You have to get five other things to go with it.

1. Get Gung Ho

The first step to professional success is making a firm commitment to yourself to pay the dues required to become the kind of trustworthy, motivated & focused professional that commands the highest salaries in any field. In other words, get gung-ho and show it. It’s the most important quality of a top professional.

2. Get the Inside Scoop

Among the disdvantages that Asian Americans face at the starting gate is not having grown up in families headed up by second-, third- and fourth-generation professionals with inside knowledge of the workings of their professions. Many Asian Americans have immigrant parents who were forced to restart at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. As a result, they may have had little early contact with well-paying careers and positions. That’s why it’s especially important for you as an Asian American to make a conscious effort to meet a wide range of people working in the fields and positions you want to enter. Do this by seeking out professional associations, seminars, conferences, job fairs and trade shows where large numbers of top professionals will be in attendance. Many of these people are there specifically to scout out promising young people who might be recruited into their companies. If your goal is to optimize your salary, make a point of speaking with people in the fields for which you may not be currently qualified or have experience in but which promise the levels of compensation you desire. Ask them for help in pointing you in the right direction for the best positions from which to get started and the companies likely to be hiring for those positions.

3. Get the Credentials

No matter the field, high-paying positions don’t just materialize out of thin air. They become available to those who have paid the dues to acquire the required experience while earning the trust of those in decision-making positions. One way to do it is to work your way up through the ranks. The other is to make a move to a position that you believe would make a good starting point. Even the most successful professionals were once where you were — in search of a way to move up the ladder.

Once you know what it takes to get to the starting point, earn the experience and the credentials. It may mean taking seminars and classes after work and on weekends. It may entail doing volunteer work to get exposure to your chosen field. It may even require you to take a temporary pay cut to make a switch to a good position from which to move up the ranks in a new profession.

Don’t make the mistake of insisting on a pay hike with every job. You may be making $50,000 a year now and would like to make $80,000. Chances are, unless you were seriously underselling yourself, some dues paying will be required to make the transition. That may entail moving to a position that pays $45,000 a year but promises to give you the kind of on-the-job tranining that will make you eligible to make $60,000 a year later. Unless you are already saddled with the responsibility of providing for a family and can’t afford a pay cut of any kind, it’s penny wise and pound foolish to waste time looking for a position that pays as well or better when you are making a switch to a new field. That is often the way to get yourself locked into a dead-end position avoided by savvier applicants.

When you’re on the prowl for better opportunities, the salary is only one of many factors, and usually not the most important. Other, more important factors include, whom you’ll be reporting to, the importance of the position to the success of the company or department, prospects for the position to grow in importance and responsibility, the company’s position in the industry and co-workers who may be able to help advance your career — or hold you back. Next

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