Four years ago, I posted about the difference between Closed-Sector and Open-Sector careers. It’s worth looking at again, because your choice of career will affect the choices that you have.
A brief excerpt:
If your first appointment in a Closed-Sector Career matters, it may be used as a proxy for capability. I may assume that you are low-capability because you were hired as on the shopfloor even though you are quite clearly more complex than your co-workers or boss. Likewise, if you are hired into a managerial position, I will assume that you have the complexity to advance according to the same rate I advanced. This lets me off the hook for personally evaluating you as a subordinate, and thereby not have to do one of the key elements of management.
This means that if you came into an organization at a low level, you will have to leave it to move up. Also, when people ask for your salary requirements, give a number that is bigger than you think that you would ever get. Ed, the guy I bought my house from, got a job in Florida this way. His in-laws live down there and wanted the grandkids nearby, so his father-in-law arranged for a interview with a trucking company. (Ed did logistics.) Ed was making $35k, barely able to make ends meet with the surprise second baby. After the interview, the company said, “We want you. What will it take to get you down here?” Ed thought about all the trouble that this would cause, with moving and all, and gave them a number he knew that they would refuse: “$115,000,” he said. Done. He’d left $20k on the table. But by coming in at a worthwhile rate, he not only raised his standard of living and allowed his wife to not work and stay home with the babies, he put himself into a position to move ahead.
Several years ago, my brother worked as a recruiter in the oil industry. He made an interesting point that once someone had decided that you were worth $100k, you had broken the magic barrier and everyone would assume that you were worth that much. There’s some play in this, but it’s especially true for managers. Once you have a large “command” and get paid X, you are always going to be thought of as worth the money. Unless you do something really stupid.
Ed commands much more than $115k. And in the summer of 2001, his household income was $35k. Impressive, isn’t it?
Enjoy the relevant blast from the past.