Like many millennials in North America I graduated high school with NO CLUE what I wanted to do for a career. Below I detail in 8 steps how I worked my way up to a career earning over 100k a year by the age of 26 with no University degree. This was no get rich quick method, just determination and saying yes to opportunity.
1. START WORKING ASAP
I started my first job at the age of 15 working for a company that sold magazine subscriptions. It literally DOES NOT matter what kind of job you get for your first job. Just apply ANYWHERE. Any kind of job on your resume is better than no job and can teach you life skills that will help you get a better job. I worked my first job for only 3 months to earn some spending money for a family vacation but it was enough at that age to add to my resume and apply for a better job down the road. If you are fresh out of University with no work experience it is going to be incredibly difficult to get a decent job with education alone (trust me, I use to be a recruiter.. I’ll get to that later). You need to stand out from the 1000’s of resumes out there and education alone nowadays won’t cut it.
Some of the best ways to get experience for a career path that you do not have enough work experience for is to volunteer or do an internship. If you cannot find a volunteer position amongst your career path then try to find one with a company that you can be passionate about. Though my career path did not involve child care I found a volunteer position at the blood bank caring for peoples children while they donated blood. It was a fun and rewarding position that I learned a lot from and ended up being a talking point during many interviews. It also helped down the road with showing experience working in the healthcare industry.3. DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF! APPLY APPLY APPLY!
Many people hold themselves back from applying for a job because they don’t fit all the requirements on the job posting. Something to understand is that when companies post a job they are posting the most ideal candidate they can think of. During my time as a recruiter I did not come across a single person that met 100% of the “requirements” of a job posting. I personally have applied for many jobs that I did not meet the qualifications (yes, even education qualifications) and STILL landed the job. There is no harm that can come from applying, just push past your fear of not being good enough and go for it. If you don’t try the answer is always no!
4. WORK WITH A RECRUITER
Many high paying jobs aren’t actually posted publicly. This is because a lot of companies choose to use a recruitment agency. The job I landed that brought me over the 100k/year mark was from being contacted by a recruiter while still working at my past company. Prior to this I was making about 85k/year. Recruiters are great to network with because they have a portfolio of clients they can potentially place you for selection for. They also want to help you get the job and typically the more you’re paid the more they’re paid so it’s a win win!
Pro tip: treat your interview with the recruiter no different than you were interviewing with a company you’ve applied for. Come prepared, resume in hand, and dress for the job.
5. ASK FOR A RAISE
This is something I have found that unfortunately a lot of young people are afraid to do. I am a big believer in the motto “If you don’t try the answer will always be no” (as said earlier). Think about this.. you ask for a raise, what’s the worst case scenario? They say no and you stay at the same pay with maybe a slightly dented ego. Best case scenario? You end up making more money and feel much more appreciated! My last job I asked for a $10,000 raise after just 3 months of working with the company. I was SO nervous going in there and asking for it but I knew my worth and that in those 3 months I managed to prove it. So I made a case and I went for it! Over the span of my first year there I managed to go from a salary of $55,000/year to $85,000/year through asking for raises. I’ll be creating a post just on this alone and how to go about it so be sure to subscribe to stay informed!
6. UPGRADE TO A NEW COMPANY
This one may be an unpopular opinion for employers… but one of the biggest impacts for changing your salary is changing companies. At a lot of companies it can be easy to outgrow and make it to the top of the pay scale. While there is nothing wrong with settling where you are if you are happy with your company, pay, and work life balance then I don’t encourage taking this step. However this is the step that got me from $45,000/year to $85,000/year to $120,000/year in 3 years time. I left the companies I worked for because there was better opportunity elsewhere and I leveraged my experience gained. It’s important to note that I do not encourage jumping from job to job too many times as this will make companies feel like you are not loyal. That being said so long as the job changes make sense on your resume they may just see you as someone who knows how to make logical decisions. To give you an idea of how long I was at each of those companies… I stayed at the $45,000/year job for 1 year before directly switching into the $85,000/year job which I stayed at for 2 years then went directly into the $120,000/year job which I currently still work (going on two years). I do not recommend staying at a company for less than a year as that experience may not seem relevant on a resume for future potential employers.
7. GO INTO SALES
It’s worth noting that all of these jobs have been some form of sales. If you are wanting to make over 100k a year with no degree then sales is a really good option. Every sales job I’ve had has been in COMPLETELY different fields of work. I have worked in the healthcare industry, human resources, advertising, print, IT, etc. The great thing about a sales career is that it is almost never boring and is easily transferable in different fields of work. Currently working in IT? Try for an IT sales position. Tired of being a nurse and working night shifts? Become a pharmaceutical rep. When it comes to a sales career you will need thick skin. It is not easy as you will receive pressure from both your company as well as your clients and juggling the both can prove difficult. However I believe if you keep your intentions pure and your priorities right you will excel!
8. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
This is the last and most important tip. I know I got to where I am today because I truly believed in myself. I didn’t need the education because I was capable of learning outside of a classroom (just as you are!). I would rather learn through experience and GET PAID to do it by working my way up through job experience. I knew if I set my mind to something that I was capable of achieving it. Instead of asking “why me?” I’d ask “Why NOT me?” I use to be someone (and still sometimes am) who would shake while talking in front of a crowd. I am not some super outgoing have no fears kind of person. I am likely very similar to you… I have fears, I have doubts, I have anxiety and worry over things that have not happened. But I hit my goals by seeing my fears and telling myself fear is not my reality, it is my imagination. So change the direction of your imagination, stop imagining all the things that could go wrong and start imagining all the things that can go right!I hope these tips help you find the courage to pursue your career and financial goals! If you’re interested in learning more tips please sign-up to subscribe and follow on my social media channels!