I though it would be useful to share a bit about my experience since I arrived in Australia (2009), and, also, for the first time, sharing some real figures… I have to say, it wasn’t easy decision to make!
First and foremost, this applied to my situation particularly, having worked in corporate all my career.
2009: Passion and work don’t mix well
I lend in Australia and start hunting for a job, in April/May. Took me one month, as I really wanted to give it a try and work in something I was passionate about: Motorcycles. I used my skills at the time: 5 years of European sales experience and finally secured my first job: Salesman or “sales consultant” as they were calling it, in a small dealership in Hornsby. I had my eye on a different one, based in Parramatta, but didn’t get it.
Got hired the same day as another guy, hardcore salesman coming from the car industry. I sold one bike, he sold none and we both got fired a month onto the job.
In the meantime, I was putting a lot of pressure to get the same job at the other dealership. I was calling the owner twice a week, letting him know with my approximate English what I was doing and the (relative) success I was having. I learned soon enough that a reference was necessary down under to get better jobs, so I asked my sales manager to refer me. He accepted but slammed behind my back on the job I was applying for!
Because I was putting a lot of pressure, I finally secured to get a second interview, this time with the owner’s brother. And, I got the job! Well, I convince them to trial me for 2 weeks and see how I go…
First job: $30k AUD gross per year + commissions (Got $300 for the one bike I sold)
Second job: $42k AUD gross per year + commissions ($75 per bike sold)
What happened in the second job was massive. I had to “win” my spot: They were 4 salesmen and 3 desks, so I had no desk. Some were helping, and cooperating, some were stealing my clients, bashing me behind my back. But, all in all, with a lot of perseverance and influence, I made it to be the top sales guy for 3 months in a row! Man, I was proud!
I won my desk, I won some “rewards”, made money, but… also left the wife behind, worked 6 days a week, sometimes 14 days in a row, long hours, a lot of pressure… and, most importantly, I was starting to lose my passion for motorcycles, disgusted by customers’ behavior against salesmen in general and consumerism: Buying for showing and not for the love of mechanics or the motorcycles themselves.
After a few months, that was the time for a change. But I learned good lessons along the way:
– Not being afraid to raise some tough questions with customers
– Work and passion together might not be for me
– Finally, my “corporate” working hours were not that bad vs “retail” hours
– Importance of having a good reference
– A LOT of people are materialists and not passionate
– Being persistent was essential to secure my second job
– Presentation was key: I arrived in suit and tie to the interview (yes!), and the owner confirmed it made me a serious candidate
2010: Back to the roots and shake it up!
At the beginning of 2010, I was ready for a change. The wife was pregnant, I would sleep all day on my day off, I would start to hate everyone, I had to do something else…
My wife talked with one of her suppliers who was searching for a sales guy, selling IT equipment. I didn’t have IT knowledge but a strong background in large account management and my CV presented well. My English also improved drastically in the last 6 months, so my confidence did. I mastered the interview and got the job.
3rd job in Australia: $50K AUD Gross + commissions
But all didn’t come rosy. My wife lost her job (and the visa), she had to negotiate a year off as she was pregnant and could not find another position being 5 months pregnant. And… 1 month after I started my new sales work, my manager resigned. He was replaced by a pure sales guy who sent me two letters in one month: The first one was to congratulate me for my hard work, and the second one was an official warning as he was not happy with my services anymore!
It started to smell bad, I started to sleep bad at night, baby numero uno was born and I wasn’t bringing enough money home to cover expenses for the three of us.
That’s when I started to learn about the wonders of networking and the fact that when “one door closes, one window opens”. I started to apply for other IT vendors, and got told about a specific one few times. I applied and got the job.
Again, the references, that I had now, were key for me to secure it.
4th job in Australia: $70k AUD Gross + $30k potential commissions
2011-2013: Patience and stupidity
In 2011, we started to settle a bit… And we had to! The new baby turned our priorities upside down. But, at work, I was not making the commissions I expected and, even worse, my salary went on freeze due to some restructure (“You should be lucky to have job”). While I learned a lot and every day, I started to get bored, and really wanted to move up the chain.
But I got use to it and got a new skill along: Patience. It was really important not to escape, which could have been the easiest short term solution, but not probably the best choice long term. I had the feeling I could do something there.
However, I did one very basic mistake, which I will do again two times later on: I took no for an answer. Whenever I was applying for a new internal position (5 times!), or asking for a pay rise, when no was given to me, I was going back to “patience” mode, instead of fighting.
The power of networking was again very important. You have to spend time away from your desk and set your priorities right, not become the priorities of others. And this mistake cost me 2 years of patience. Seems that the lesson wasn’t heard as I did it again in 2014…
So still the same 4th job… and still the same pay!
2014: Finally, promotion!
Beginning of 2014, I finally got a promotion. Had to fight for it and write a long email to the director of sales, pledging for my case. I was the first one around 120 sales guy to ask for this particular grade, and this grade meant at least 10-12% pay rise. And got it! Even 14% to be exact.
I had a lot of conflict around my team, I was more senior and felt I had to be treated that way but still, was treated as a junior. It was again time for a move – And a promotion.
My lesson from the past was integrated and I was sniffing around for opportunities, until I heard that one colleague was about to be promoted and would be keen to introduce me to his boss. We worked on a plan, he trained me, I attended unsolicited events for this team to notice me. I championed their solution in my business. I was first on the line.
It would have been too easy if a restructure didn’t come to shake up all my good plans and my boss-to-be was made redundant. Replaced by someone who I interviewed with… who was made redundant… But signed my contract before he left! So I started my new job with a third guy.
And I did again a big money mistake. I accepted a decrease of my base salary with a promise of a better commission plan… which never arrived. Still I made good money, I guess…
5th job in Australia: Still the same pay!
2015: Another promotion!
I was still on the hunt, back in Jan 2015. Baby number 2 was born in mid – 2014 and I had now plenty of confidence, even to know that I was really undervalued. I almost quit my job due to the “commission promise” that was made to me in 2014 but not respected.
Same scenario as the previous job: Sniffing around, I heard before everyone that someone would leave soon the company and she was keen to reference me. My current boss (yes, I changed 2 times in between!), aware of my salary conditions, was ready to support me. I interviewed actually very bad, but my references were so strong that I got the job.
This time, I came to have a big salary increase: 30% +!
6th job in Australia: $95k AUD Gross + car allowance + commissions
2016: Lucky on top of that
The unit I integrated grew very fast, even faster that everyone anticipated. I had still some issues as I had to convince the business that it was worth recruiting more people. But I was happy, feeling recognized and having plenty of responsibilities.
An internal survey conducted by my boss made them realize that I was underpaid vs my skills and responsibilities, so got a 14% increase.
Before he left (Yes! Another new boss!), he made me a very nice present: Stupidly low target to achieve…. which resulted of the following:
6th job in Australia: $108k AUD Gross + car allowance + commissions
So far, it means I have made $220k AUD Gross this financial year. Not bad. And here we are: 8 times my starting salary back in 2009?
The skeptical would say: “But you’re counting your commissions now, whereas you didn’t in the past: That was one off.”Yes, this is correct. And I do that as I know that, in my specific technical niche expertise, I’m still way below what I can expect if I were to leave for a competitor tomorrow: $250k approx..
So, one question:
How many bosses did I have in my career so far?
Well, back in 2009-2010: one boss per job, the usual, right?
2010: 3 bosses
2013: 3 bosses
2014: 4 bosses
2015: 3 bosses
13 bosses in 5 years! Not bad!
Next article: which super I have and why have i chosen this one