The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Career

Zone of potential agreement (ZOPA): The area where both you and the person you are negotiating with would accept an offer.

Office Space TPS Report

Um…yeah…so I’m gonna need you to fill out one of these…by Saturday…

When you think about how you’re going to earn and save enough money to hit your financial goals, it’s really easy to think about how you can cut expenses. Cut lattes! Recycle dryer sheets! Peel off that 2-ply toilet paper and get double the usage! Make sweaters out of dust bunnies and belly button lint!

Sure, there’s some benefit to being wise about your spending. You want to spend money on things that align with your personal beliefs and what brings you the highest emotional value. If you can make a cup of coffee at home and get just as much hedonic pleasure out of that cup of coffee as you would from buying a latte at the retail coffee joint, then you should make coffee at home.

However, the best way, if you can do it, to accelerate your retirement goals, is to earn more money. The sooner you earn more, the longer you have time for that extra money, assuming you invest it rather than let your extra wages go to lifestyle inflation. We saw that in “Sacred Cows Make Great Burgers” – sacred cow #2, that, all things being equal, earning more is…well, you’ll have to read the article!

So we know that we’re better off earning more (or, at least, we do after we read that article), but the financial planning industry is pretty woeful when it comes to providing useful advice about actually improving your income. It’s like a personal trainer telling you to lose weight and decrease your body fat without giving you an exercise routine and some dietary guidelines for how to accomplish that goal.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled some articles that I think can really help you manage your career, no matter what stage of it you’re in. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Career


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Part 1: Finding that first job

Part 2: Negotiating your salary

Part 3: Asking for a raise

Part 4: Leveraging LinkedIn and networking

Part 5: Changing jobs

Part 6: Negotiating a severance

Part 7: Benefits besides pay

Part 8: Telling them you’re retiring

Finding that first job

When you ask a doe-eyed career counselor what you should do, they tend to give the same responses:

Follow your passion!

Do what you love!

Do that and you will likely be a starving artist. Unless, of course, your passion is aerospace engineering, in which case, proceed on.

Also, once you get that first job, you want to rock it!

Negotiating your salary

Getting the highest salary that you possibly can is the foundation for future financial success. In your next job, your current salary will be a starting point for those negotiations. The more money you make, the more you can invest, the quicker you can pay down those student loans and other debts, and the more you’ll have to spend (yes, financial planning is about spending too!). Mo money, mo problems!

Asking for a raise

Assuming that you have crushed it at work and delivered way more than your boss expected (you have, haven’t you?), then you should be in line for a bump in pay. Alternatively, if you undervalued yourself during your initial salary negotiations, negotiating a raise can be a great way to claw back some of the value that you left on the table during the first round of money talks with your employer. Remember, though, it has to be a situation where both sides benefit. You’re not going to get a raise just because you ask for one. You have to make the company incrementally more profitable as a result of your presence.

Leveraging LinkedIn and networking

Over the years, I have been an infrequent but intense LinkedIn user. In my last company, I was a heavy networker, and I daresay that networking was what got the ball rolling on our first million dollar contract and kept us going afterwards. You may think of networking as a sleazy used car salesman gimmick, but I can assure you from personal experience that it is not.

Changing jobs

Sometimes it just gets a little stale in your cube. You want to see if the grass is greener on the other side, stretch your wings, push the envelope, and create new clichés. After all, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average later Baby Boomer had 11.3 jobs from age 18 to 46. Chances are that a gold watch and golden handshake are not in your future. It’s better to prepare for that than be caught unaware.

Negotiating a severance

Sometimes, either by your choice or by the company’s choice, you do get an offer of a golden parachute (or, at least, a padded kick out the door). Immediately, The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go starts playing in your head. You usually don’t get much time to make an answer one way or the other. What do you do???

Benefits besides pay

Sometimes due to corporate oddities, you can negotiate benefits other than what comes in your pay packet. These can often be beneficial, as you can get pre-tax benefits that you would otherwise have to pay using your after-tax dollars. Yes, thank the IRS for those vagaries. But, if after using all of your newfound wisdom on negotiating the highest salary possible and not being able to budge them an inch more, you may be able to find other areas where your employer is willing to give you benefits that help you be a more productive and happy employee.

Telling them you’re retiring

Isn’t that the goal of career planning? There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end! As much as your employer loves you and wishes that you’d work forever, eventually you’re going to get a promotion to the retired life. Here’s how to handle that transition.

What do you think? Are there any articles I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

About Jason Hull, CFP®

Jason Hull, CFP®, is the Chief Technology officer of myFinancialAnswers, an online comprehensive financial planning service.

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