By Catherine Conlan, Monster Contributing Writer
Most high-paying jobs require a lot of education, a lot of talent, a lot of work -- or all 3. It's not something that people usually fall into. Put yourself on the path to a high-paying job by following this expert advice.
- Cross-train. You never want to stop learning -- and this doesn't mean going back to school. In your current job, put yourself in a position to expand your skill set. "Look for new assignments that will bring you strength and challenges," says Chris Von Der Ahe, a senior partner at KornFerry International's Los Angeles office. "If you're in marketing, try a stint in sales. If you're in operations, try purchasing." Taking on broader responsibilities will make you more attractive as a candidate.
- Develop your soft skills. Achieving a well-paying leadership position is about more than being technically good at your job. You also need to have excellent verbal and nonverbal communications skills, the ability to work well as part of a team, and a reputation as someone who keeps their cool under pressure are all critical. Executive presence is something you'll need to actively cultivate if you want to land a high-paying job.
- Invest in your team's development. It isn't enough to improve yourself. You also have to develop the people you manage, Von Der Ahe says. "People who progress find themselves in leadership roles. The performance of your team will reflect on you -- the better you make them, the better you'll perform. It's a great way to get promoted."
- Be patient. Minimize the number of times you switch employers, if you can. If you have a lot of jobs and not a lot of staying power, that can be a red flag to prospective employers, Von Der Ahe says. "Avoid being a job hopper. At some point, patterns continue, and you need to get in a good company and show progression." If you've been the victim of downsizing a couple of times, be honest about it, but you also need to do your due diligence on a company and avoid joining those that look like they're struggling, Von Der Ahe says.
- Network strategically -- online and off. High-paying jobs are often filled through personal networking. Long before there's an official opening for a job, you want to build your reputation in your industry. Volunteering for industry trade associations, speaking at conferences and publishing a blog are all great ways to demonstrate your expertise and establish yourself as a thought leader. What's probably not worth your time: generic "networking groups."
- Research the company thoroughly for the interview. While everyone knows it's important to do your homework before a job interview, the kind of research you need to do to help land a high-paying, executive job is a little different, says Steve Yakesh, executive vice president at Versique Search & Consulting in Minneapolis. "It's not just what you can find online anymore. You need to find former employees or talk to current employees to get an insight into the company." Doing so will help you find out whether you're a good fit for the company's personality, culture and values. During your interview, Yakesh recommends asking the same question about company culture to different people to see if you get similar answers. "They won't be exactly the same, because the perception of culture may shift by position," he says. Instead, look for common themes in the responses.
- Ask the right questions. To pinpoint the values of the company, Yakesh recommends turning the question they ask around. "Interviewers will ask behavioral-based questions for the role you're interviewing for," Yakesh says. "Flip it around and ask them the same question. If they ask about a challenge that you overcame, ask them about what happened when someone addressed a peer in a derogatory way. How was it handled?" The answer can give you an valuable insight into company culture. Teasing out this information in the hiring process will help you find an organization where you can stay for the long haul. "Companies hire based on resume, and fire based on fit," Von Der Ahe says.
Positioning yourself to land -- and keep -- a high-paying job takes time and effort, but it's worth it in the long run. Self-development and smart interviewing will go a long way.