How you can make big money as an employee

What’s the first limitation of being an employee?
It’s the limited income.
Why limited?
Because being an employee means exchanging your time for money.
And for the 22 long years I’ve been in this planet, I have never met a person with an eternal life.
With our temporary life, we got only limited time and thus limited bucks of money.
So the best thing to do next then is to maximize whatever opportunity we have in our employment. And possibly squeeze it with the most we can get out of it.
Of course it sounds easier than actually doing it.
image  from 

Which leads me to this good-read article from InquirerBusiness.
I will share a separate blog for my thoughts on this. In the meantime, enjoy reading!
And share your comments and thoughts below!

Have fun investing!

SEVERAL READERS REACTED TO my June 27, 2010 column. Most of them affirmed their sad state as poor employees despite long years of dedicated service. Many asked for more advice.

There's nothing wrong with being poor, just as there's nothing wrong with being old. But when you are old and poor at the same time, especially after long years of  working, something must be wrong.

Big bucks in employment
In my June 27 column, I said that nobody gets rich as an employee. That's the rule, but there could be exceptions. My column today is about those exceptions.
First, let me tell you of the twostep formula for making big money as an employee. Notice that I didn't say formula for getting rich. I made my first million when I was an employee, but not from my wages. But that's another story of entrepreneurship.
To make big money out of being an employee, first look for a company that pays big money. Next, move into a position that pays big  money. This is the only formula I know. Unethical and anomalous transactions are not in my vocabulary and therefore not recommended.

In some instances, corporate officers make more money than medium-sized entrepreneurs, without the risks that go with doing business. Whether that's the rule or the exception, it is immaterial. It's just a fact. Of course, if you look closely, employees in the top positions are not just ordinary employees. They are practically running the company's business.

Harsh reality
If you believe Paretto, 80% of a typical company's compensation goes to only 20% of its employees. Eighty per cent of all employees share in the remaining measly 20%. It is obvious that if your ambition is to make big bucks as an employee, you have to move up to the top 20%, nay 10%, positions. In that small triangle at the top, there are big bucks, lifetime benefits, fat bonuses, tax shields and stock options that will make you wonder if the system is moral. Of course, it is legal.

It is evident that long years of dedicated service are not the key to making big money out of employment.
This is bad news for employees who have been programmed to believe that as long as they continue to make the businessman rich, they too will get rich when they retire. When successful businessmen retire, they wallow in luxury. When an average Joe retires, he either invests his hard earned retirement money wrongly, loses medical benefits for sicknesses he contracted as an employee, or simply squanders his big money that he wasn't used to have all his life. Ces't la vie.

Choose your employer
With the right choice, you can still make big bucks as an employee. Before my first day in college, I was already working. I did odd jobs in a furniture company, a secondrate telecom, a savings bank, a CPA partnership, and a third-rate commercial bank. I squandered seven years with these employers before I realized that they weren't paying me enough. The simple reason was that they don't pay big bucks as a matter of policy and practice. The next 25 years of my working life were spent with the high-payers (San Miguel, Caltex and Unilab). I was wiser to choose my employer. In fact, the last two chose me.
I chose them.

Many jobseekers have the irritating habit of taking the first bus that comes along and regretting later that it didn't bring them to their desired destination. In life, you can go by even if you didn't have a happy  beginning. A wonderful life and a happy ending, despite  an inglorious beginning, are more important to me. At some point, you got to wake up from a bad dream and take matters into your own hands. If you aren't getting paid well, jump ship and join the big payers. Don't jump hastily, until you have a place to go. Just be ready to have something to bring to the table when you present yourself to your chosen company. The big payers are keen about the value their recruits will bring with them.

I guess it is all right to start with second rate employers, build your distinctive competence, and get noticed by head hunters or the big payers' recruitment team. If you are that sweet, the ants will look for you. In three of my past employment, I did not apply - I was invited and offered hefty packages.
If you are graduating soon, start looking around for great companies to join. If you have toiled long enough for the crumbs from the paymaster, start looking where your skills can be put to better use while you laugh on your way to the bank. It is never too late. The best time might have been ten years ago when you were not yet deep in debts with your present employer. The next best time is now.
Companies chose their recruits through a highly regimented procedure. Why do you just join a firm without a thorough investigation? Choose your next employer carefully. It could be your last.

Making a choice is one thing. Getting hired by the company you choose is another. I wish there were still copies of my book How to Get a Job at popular bookstores. I heard they run out of copies, but I had great tips there for choosing companies to work for.

Truly, making big bucks as an employee depends largely on who your work with. When starting a career or making a career shift, chose a company where you can demonstrate your strengths, get recognized for your achievements, and contribute immense value to your company and your profession.

Every conceivable achievement you make for the company should  result in a corresponding deposit to your emotional bank account that the rest of the industry and business community can recognize. As you provide value to your employer, ensure that you add value to your own brand. This is the way to move up in your career and into positions that pay big bucks.

Moving up
The other step to making big bucks as an employee is moving up to positions that pay big bucks. This is the more difficult step. I have been in the workplace long enough to understand the basics, the inanities and the politics of careers. I shall give more space for advice on this aspect in my next column.
Meanwhile, don't believe everything you read. Yes, employees can make big bucks, too. Whether they will get rich or not is another story. Watch out for more related stories in my next columns.

(Ernie is current Chair of IR Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM). He also chairs ECOP's Long Range Policy Planning Committee. He was also President of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines in 1999. He is the President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center, a human resource consulting firm. His new books, "Life's Big Lessons" and "Life's Big Lies" are now available at book stores. He can be reached at



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