Useful tips for your first 90 days on the job.
I’ve onboarded to four different companies in the last five years (long story), and there’s one common through line that knits together the experiences: The first month of HR paperwork and getting the lay of the land is stressful as hell.
In this week’s episode, we’re diving into the major pieces to get right (setting up employer-sponsored retirement account contributions, the “use it or lose it” benefits at your old job, and other consequential-but-tedious administrative stuff). My guest, career coach Eliana Goldstein, is joining me to discuss how to absolutely crush the first 90 days of your new job—everything from internal networking to key conversations to fast-tracking promotions.
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Katie: Are you starting a new job or a new role? Congrats, you rich human being. If you are currently being fed about 7,000 pages of HR paperwork and you don't know where to start, you are going to love this episode. We will cover everything from planning for taxes and retirement—but, like, in a fun way—to how to crush it and impress your boss within those first 90 days, aka, all this stuff no one tells you when you're focused on landing the job, but what to do once you have it. Consider this your go-to checklist. Are you ready? 'Cause we're diving in.
Welcome back to The Money with Katie Show, Rich Peeps. I'm your host, Katie Gatti Tassin. And today we are talking about ways to crush it in a new job, though I will broaden the scope here a little bit to say anyone in a new role, even if you're not in a new company. So, my friend, career coach Eliana Goldstein, she's joining us again. If you're an OG listener of the show, you may recall she was in one of our first episodes back in late 2021 to talk about the career aspect of the puzzle here. So I am going to spend the first half of this episode talking about the financial aspects of getting things locked and loaded when you are starting a new gig. These are things that no one ever really talked to me about, explained to me. And now that I've done them four times at new jobs, figured, you know what, let's talk about it, because it can be overwhelming to start a new job. You're trying to learn a lot of new stuff all at once for literally the role you are doing. But simultaneously, you're faced with a lot of taxes and benefits decisions kind of immediately, all at once. So there are a few big pieces, we'll call them, to get right that can make a world of difference later. So we're gonna get into the details and nuance too. I'll give you some of my favorite little tips.
What should you be aware of from a financial perspective when you're starting a new job? You probably got a salary, right? Like, you know how much you're gonna be paid. But there are a few big things that those of us, especially in the US of A, need to be mindful of when we are starting a new job. And keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive. It's possible that you're one of those fancy pants executives who's working through these very complex contracts, stock options, and deferred compensation plans. Or maybe you're someone who's joining a team of three people with no retirement or healthcare plans to speak of. Either way, there is a lot to consider. So before you start your new gig and you wade into the exciting waters of HR handbooks, there are a few things you probably wanna finish before mentally closing the books on your old employment relationship. The first: Update your resume and LinkedIn with the most accurate and baller information possible about the impact you had at your old role, while it is all still fresh.
Number two: Consider rolling over your old 401(k) into a self-managed IRA. I like to use a company called Capitalize for this. I've done three 401(k) rollovers with them and it's great. But do note that if you do a backdoor Roth IRA or you plan to do one, this may not be as much of a no-brainer, since it can foul up your Roth conversion per the IRS Pro Rata Rule. I know that was a lot of jargon, but we actually covered backdoor Roth IRAs a few weeks ago on the 10/26 Rich Girl Roundup, if you're curious. It definitely depends, right, on the cost/benefit analysis of the types of fees you're paying in your old 401(k) plan, how badly you want to do a backdoor Roth IRA. So just a heads up there, if you're on the fence. That's pretty much the only watch-out.
Number three: Double check that any unused vacation time was paid out on your last paycheck, assuming that that was part of your employment agreement. You wanna make sure that there's nothing they owe you that you have not gotten.
And number four, finally, on the note of use it or lose it: If you had an FSA account at your old employer, try your best to spend it on qualifying medical expenses before you leave. Otherwise it'll be returned to them, unless you opt into COBRA coverage continuation.
All right, we will be right back after a message from the sponsors of today's episode.
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Katie: You've landed the new gig, but how should you plan for the tax man who is gonna come and take a big chunk of your new paycheck? So let's start with the biggest one first: Tax planning. At some early point in your onboarding, your employer will likely ask you to fill out a W-4 form. This is the shorthand way of saying, they need to know how much to withhold for taxes based on all the ways you earn money. So if you have a blossoming OnlyFans foot pic side hustle that you are not currently being taxed on, you can fill out your W-4 form to suggest that you have other income, so they'll withhold more from your paychecks. And this is a relatively seamless way to ensure that you don't end up owing $40,000 in April. Not like that's happened to me or anything.
Some people choose to have more taxes withheld up front, because they want to receive a refund, or they fear their income from other sources will create a situation where they're gonna owe money, so they opt for extra withholding. Others are comfortable with potentially owing money at tax time 'cause they want to receive as much of their paycheck up front, so they may claim other deductions or not include other sources of income. I tend to like my W-4s to be as accurate as possible or skew a little too generous, such that I end up owing some money, rather than doing the whole, like, interest-free loan to the government thing. But it is mostly personal preference. The point is you can either fill it out super accurately or you can fudge it in one direction or the other to try to manipulate the way that your April tax return situation goes.
Last thing on the W-4: If you've got kids and you earn less than $200,000 single or $400,000 jointly, you can claim tax credits here on this W-4 form to lower your withholding and make those paychecks bigger, baby. Another thing I like to do to estimate taxes: Use the smart asset income tax calculator—we'll link it in the show notes—and plug in your new income with your correct zip code, filing status, and deductions, like 401(k) contributions. It'll tell you quickly what you can expect in the form of take-home pay every month after federal, state, local, and FICA taxes. Now, it won't include any deductions that are being taken out for your benefits, like health insurance or vision, dental, whatever. But you can subtract those manually. So this way I get a sense up front for how much income I can actually expect to collect every month, which just makes planning my new budget so much easier.
More than once I have switched jobs, accepted higher pay, rolled up my sleeves in preparation for my forearms full of Cartier Love bracelets and my new high-roller lifestyle, only to be disappointed upon actually receiving a paycheck and going, oh wait, after taxes and benefits, this is way less than I thought I was going to be taking home. So getting grounded in reality ahead of time can help A), temper any spendy tendencies that may come about with a new job, and B, make sure that you're being paid accurately when your first paycheck hits. You probably wanna check it and make sure that it is more or less in line with what you were projecting.
Next up, we are talking about retirement plans…my favorite. So 93% of employers offer a 401(k) or similar plan, though fewer than 50% of small businesses provide this benefit, per JPMorgan. If you work for a small business that does not offer one, consider approaching your HR department or HR person and advocating for it. While the employer's annual operating fees may cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year, these types of retirement savings vehicles are crucial for building long-term financial stability. And you could make the argument to an employer that providing such a plan can actually help with employee retention. According to CNBC, 62% of businesses that offer a 401(k) plan automatically enroll their employees in the plan. And as of 2020, roughly a third of these businesses made the common deferral rate 6%, up from 3%. Translation: It is possible that your employer will automatically defer 6% of your paycheck to your 401(k) on your behalf. But I have personally worked for four different companies that offer 401(k) plans. I have never had an automatic contribution. Every single time, I have had to go in, opt in, and set a specific contribution amount. But whatever your circumstance, it is worth exploring, because it is a pretty amazing means of saving for retirement, for a few reasons. The obvious one is that it's tax-advantaged money, which means you're either getting a tax break up front, or a tax break later, depending on whether you choose Traditional or Roth. It's also an account that typically has a match. 95% of employers who offer these programs will partially or fully match the contribution you are making. And this is considered part of your compensation package on their end, right? So don't leave that money on the table, because it is yours. It's being calculated as part of the total comp.
And last but not least, it is automatique, honey. This is probably the most important and underrated part of the 401(k) and 401(k)-equivalent situation. You never see the money, and that's a good thing, because it's an easy way to save. It's taken right out of your paycheck. I'm gonna address a common pushback, though. Most people I speak with have concerns about locking up the money, and I can totally understand that, but that is part of the charm and beauty of the 401(k). We are forcing ourselves to prioritize future us, rather than allowing the temptations of a new iPhone drop or Croatia yacht week—which is something I hear is a thing—to yank us off-course. We don't always want to be at the whim of our own desire, and sometimes these forced savings devices help us save us from ourselves.
Of course, you will have to balance your contributions to a 401(k) as part of your broader financial goals and strategy. But generally speaking, the reasons I see people opt out of the 401(k) usually have less to do with the fact that they've got some grander financial scheme cooking, and more to do with the fact that they just don't think it's worth contributing to, and they'd rather keep the cash liquid instead. So that money usually comes home and—you guessed it—gets spent, or it sits in a low-interest savings account, where it could be compounding tax-deferred or tax-free. I'm gonna tell you the same thing my mom told me when I got a new job: Just contribute 10%. Don't second-guess it. At the time I was making $52,000 a year. I knew I could afford to annually contribute $5,200, but I was still apprehensive. Had I just spent a few months taking home my regular paychecks, it would've been much more challenging to then go back and contribute 10+ percent. So my advice, like my mom's: Just do it from the jump, so you never see the money. Don't let this one slip to the back burner. And if you can afford to contribute the maximum, which will be $22,500 in 2023, I promise future you will thank you. If you're not sure which investments to choose when you're getting started, go back, listen to The Money with Katie Show episode 21 with Chris Peterson. We'll link it in the show notes. It's called “How to Start Investing with Just two Funds.” It's their two funds for life strategy. Works beautifully in the 401(k) since it includes funds that are commonly found in employer-sponsored plans. We'll be right back after a message from the sponsors of today's episode.
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Today's Money with Katie episode is brought to you by Capitalize. It's the most wonderful time of the year to start getting your finances in order, but between figuring out your gift budget, open enrollment, and spending those “use it or lose it” health funds, you don't want your old 401(k)s getting lost in the shuffle, or you may lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement savings—literally. Capitalize can make your next 401(k) rollover completely stress-free by managing the whole process from start to finish, and they do it for free. I have done three rollovers with Capitalize myself, and they help track down your old 401(k) account, choose the best IRA to meet your needs, and help you take control of your retirement savings for life. Start maximizing your savings ahead of the new year and get your rollover started at hicapitalize.com/moneywithkatie. That's hicapitalize.com/moneywithkatie. A quick disclosure: Capitalize does not provide investment or tax advice. Visit hicapitalize.com/moneywithkatie for details.
Katie: Next up, we have my personal favorite—and by favorite, I mean bane of my existence: navigating the convoluted world of private health insurance. Yay, company-sponsored health insurance. Like I said, everyone's situation will vary. This is probably the section of this episode that's gonna vary the most, but typically you will find yourself in the position of having roughly 30 days to make your benefits elections for health insurance that you will be stuck with until open enrollment a year later, or a qualifying life event, aka, your only hope to not spend $10,000 out of pocket on an emergency surgery. You may not have any benefits with your new gig, or you may have health, vision, dental, disability, the whole smorgasbord, but you'll likely need to go through a process wherein you assess myriad different plans and someone from HR will send you a packet that is 80 pages long with names like Premium Plus HSA and Platinum PPO, with jumbles of numbers and percentages. It can be overwhelming. I totally get it. First, you are gonna wanna assess whether or not you even need the coverage. If you are covered by a spouse's plan already, or maybe you're under the age of 26, you're on your parents’ health insurance, bless up. Determine whether or not it would be cheaper to be covered separately from your spouse or to switch to the family coverage option on your new plan instead.
Again, this is a veritable math soup, but there are a few things to look out for here when you're making these decisions. Number one: monthly premiums. How much does the insurance cost to carry every month? Usually the lower the premium, the higher the deductible, which is the amount you have to spend before the insurance actually kicks in. So some people like to opt for higher premiums and lower deductibles, depending on their health. It is best to estimate up front when choosing how the cost of your insurance will impact your paycheck. Number two: those deductibles I mentioned, and then other things like copays and co-insurance. So some plans will ask you to hit a deductible before your insurance starts paying. It is usually thousands of dollars, but not always. And others are gonna take it a step further with convoluted copays and co-insurance, which means that even after you hit the deductible, you are still responsible for either paying a flat fee, which is called a copay, or a percentage of the costs, which is called co-insurance. You can compare your different options, realistic scenarios to see what you may be on the hook for.
And last but not least, out-of-pocket maximums. Usually you'll hit a point where the insurance company feels that they have sufficiently bled you dry, and you'll hit a cap. This number, the out-of-pocket maximum, typically indicates the reasonable ceiling for your annual health expenses. Again, often several thousand dollars. Why do these numbers matter? Well, for one thing, they will help you understand how much of each paycheck you're gonna lose to pay for the insurance, but they'll also tell you what makes sense to budget for medical expenses moving forward. For example, if your plan of choice has an out-of-pocket maximum of $15,000 per year, you'll know that you could theoretically be responsible for up to $15,000 per year of medical expenses even while insured, because guess what? Our healthcare system is for profit. Hashtag #dystopia. We will link a blog post in the show notes about how to build this into your budget. The point is, you will probably need to opt into a plan for your medical, dental, and vision, and you want to use those plan numbers as a guide for how you budget for healthcare and how you expect the paycheck to adapt.
Some companies offer short-term and long-term disability insurance, as well as term life insurance protection. So keep an eye out for those as well. This is what protects you if you, oh, I don't know, get pregnant or become temporarily disabled or injured, so you can still receive some portion of your income for a predetermined amount of time.
All right, other benefits that you will likely encounter in your emails full of links and instructions barrage. Do you get an education stipend, a fitness stipend, an ergonomic desk chair, stipend? I don't know. This stuff sounds obvious, but when I was getting started in my first few jobs, I felt like I was being bombarded with emails during the whole first month about all of this stuff, and I had no idea what to do with any of it, especially since most employers all use different vendors.
Same with things like PTO. Even if you have unlimited PTO, it is good to know the process for filing vacation days and make sure you've got it saved somewhere. If you are part of the 91% of workers who do not have unlimited PTO, note how many hours you are given up front and how you will accrue them. Remember that your vacation days are also part of your total compensation. So make sure you're using them, and that you know what happens if you are to leave that job. Are you gonna get paid out for those hours, or do you lose them? Bookmark or jot down these other perks somewhere, so you can take advantage of them whenever you need them.
Some companies require you to submit receipts. So I like to bookmark whatever app I need, whether that be Concur, Expensify, whatever, and auto-save the username and password. Then when I inevitably need to submit reimbursement for (making this up) a yoga class six months from now, I'm not shuffling through old emails trying to find a login link. One thing that has been so simple but such a game changer for me: making an HR and administrative folder on the bookmarks bar, where I link 401(k) logins, any HR portals, health insurance, login page, expense managers, HSA logins, if that applies. And then logging in immediately, saving the passwords, and just knocking it all out up front. It completely saves the headache later when you need to go to a doctor eight months in and you're like, I don't even remember who my health insurer is. So it'll help you ensure that you don't miss out on any of your valuable benefits and, because I am nothing if not paranoid, keep an eye out on those first few paychecks. Make sure that the deductions you're seeing align with what you're expecting based on all the elections you made. I have heard crazy stories before about people being charged twice for their health insurance, or having state taxes for the wrong state taken out. You just never know. You wanna keep an eye on it.
Okay, cool. Now that we have covered all of the super dry financial stuff when you start a new job, we are gonna welcome our guest career coach Eliana Goldstein, so she can give us a few pointers for getting off on the right foot with our new employer and knocking it out of the park. Eliana, welcome back to The Money with Katie Show. I'm so glad that you're here.
Eliana Goldstein: Thank you. I'm so excited to be back.
Katie: Yes. So one thing that I really wanted to get your take on is, it seems like we get so focused on getting the job, especially if we've been in the job market for awhile, or it's a gig that we've wanted for a really long time, that we often forget about what to do once we start in order to really knock it outta the park and like, set ourselves up for success. So I'm curious, what suggestions do you have to set yourself up in a new role? Can you speak to like the first 30 days, the first 60 days in a new job?
Eliana Goldstein: Yeah, absolutely. And you're completely right. Most people don't think about this, because they're so laser-focused on getting the job. They're like oof, phew, I can breathe a sigh of relief, right? But they don't…they forget that there's like a whole other part to the equation. So a lot of the times when we start a new role, we feel like we just kind of need to sit back and just take in as much as we can, and absolutely, that's 100% true. But we can do that while still focusing on strategies to be able to set ourselves up and be able to scale more quickly. So what I really like to focus on is, like you said, the first 30 days, but I would even call it like the first 14 to 30 days.
So one of the first things that you're going to do in that time period is set up some time with your manager for a one-on-one, but make sure that one-on-one is completely devoted to just talking about, what does success look like in this role? And you might have heard a little bit about this during the interview process, but it never hurts to reiterate it. So you wanna go in there with your manager and say, “Hey, I'm so excited about this opportunity; this is a company I wanted to be a part of for so long, and it's really my goal to be able to grow here as quickly as I can and be able to stay here for the long term. So I'm really curious, what does success look like in this role? What should I be focusing on the first 30 days, the first 60 days, the first 90 days? What are my goals? What would exceeding these goals look like?” And really getting clear on those metrics for success, so that you can be sure of and clear on what it is that you need to be doing. And then also really tracking and showing how you are hitting and exceeding those goals, and like continuously report that up to your manager. So that's one of the first parts of that conversation.
And then the second part of that conversation is a little bit of self-advocacy, really making it clear how you wanna interact with your manager, how you can help, right? And really saying, “Hey, I know I'm new; we're just starting to work together, but I wanted to let you know, like these are the types of projects where I really excel. This is where I know I can add value. This is a challenge that I know I can help you through. So if there's ever something that you need in this arena, please don't hesitate to ask for my help,” right? Like making it clear what you're good at, what you wanna be known for. So that's really those first within those first 30 days.
And then 60 days is now thinking outside of your manager, focusing on like internal networking and creating internal visibility with other people. So teams that you work with directly as well as indirectly, maybe just a team that you kind of wanna like learn from, because you think that the work that they do is really cool, reaching out if it's remote over Slack or in person, you know, going up to their desk and just saying, “Hey, I'm new here. I know you're super busy, but I was wondering if we could, you know, set up a conversation to chat for 10 minutes. I'd love to learn about what projects you're working on,” right? Create that visibility with other teams, because you ultimately just don't know how that might impact you in the future. If that person's gonna have a say in a future promotion, if maybe in two years from now you actually wanna move over to that team and you've already developed that relationship early on. So that's really like, those are the two key things. Manager time as well as internal visibility among other teams within those first 60 days when you start that new job.
Katie: That's really interesting. Someone once told me that, you know, you should spend the first six months of any new role just getting settled and learning the lay of the land. What do you think about that?
Eliana Goldstein: Yeah, I don't agree with that. I think that a lot of people think that, and I understand why, because we don't wanna come in too hot, right? And we feel like we're being intrusive or that it's almost obnoxious to a degree to start talking about, you know, promotions and raises too early on. And I think it's all about the way that you handle it. But the truth is, if you are someone who comes in and you say, I wanna grow quickly, I wanna get that promotion in that first year, but you wait until six months in to even have and initiate that conversation, that promotion's not gonna happen that quickly. So you need to get ahead of it, because as we know, there's often a lot of steps that happen when it comes to getting a promotion, to knowing what goals do I need to hit and exceed. You know, who are the players that make a decision with regarding to this promotion that I maybe need to get in front of to make sure that they know who I am, and that people can be advocating for me. You don't have to do it on day one. That's why I say in the first 14 days to, you know, 30 days, but get the lay of the land, go to your onboarding, be respectful, ask questions, but then ask your manager for that one-on-one and say, “Hey, can I just have, you know, 20 to 30 minutes to talk about how I can be successful in this role, and how I can set myself up for, you know, internal growth here? Because I'm really looking forward to being a part of this company for the long term.” As long as you're respectful, there is nothing wrong with having those types of conversations early on.
Katie: Interesting. I like that. We hired someone six months ago, our producer Henah, and I feel like she's been a part of this team for years, and I haven't even been doing Money with Katie for years. So it's crazy to me that she's been here for six months and she immediately made herself so invaluable and was such a quick learner that to me, six months does seem like quite a long time to be kind of in learning mode, as opposed to…I mean obviously you're always learning, but as opposed to thinking about being like proactive contributor mode. So I was just curious, kind of, if you had heard that like six-month benchmark before and kind of what your take on it was.
Switching gears a little bit, we're kind of talking about promotions, and obviously you get into a company, you probably…I personally have wanted to have that, you know, “Oh, I wanna get a raise in year one, I wanna get a promotion in year one. Like I wanna move quickly and be really on top of it,” right? But outside of the obvious bias that sometimes occurs in workplaces, like the statistical bias that we are aware of, why is it that some people seem to get promoted so much more easily than others? Are there any strategies you recommend for getting promoted more quickly?
Eliana Goldstein: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as you said, of course there's some of just those obvious biases that occur, but beyond that, we do always notice…and I know when I talk to clients and when I, you know, speak to groups, you always hear, “Why is it that that person's getting promoted? Like, they're not doing a better job than me; my work is just as great, it's just as valuable.” So it usually doesn't come down to your output in what you're doing, but it comes down to a number of things. One of them being this notion of kind of internal networking and what I think about as internal visibility. So to get promoted, unfortunately it's not just as easy as like, “Oh, I hit my goal, so my manager should give me a promotion.”
Now a lot of the times, unless you work at an amazing company with an amazing manager who's just gonna advocate on your behalf no matter what, you have to be the one advocating for yourself, right? So you have to make it clear first and foremost that you want the promotion. Because the truth is, some people do wanna, I don't wanna even call it “coast” because that's not the right word, but there are some people who are like, “I'm happy in this position right now; I wanna stay here for as long as I can.” Right? So if that's not you and you wanna grow as quickly as possible, you gotta let your manager know that. So first and foremost, vocalize that, tell them that first and foremost.
And then going back to this notion of internal visibility. So really thinking about, who are the stakeholders and the key players that potentially impact my ability to get promoted. Generally it's gonna be your manager, right? But then it's usually your manager's manager; it might be the VP of your group. There's usually a number of players who can make that final decision and you know, check that box of saying, okay, you know, Katie is getting promoted this quarter, whatever it might be. So get clear on who those people might be, and try to get in front of them.
You know, now we live in this world of remote work, making things, I think, frankly a lot easier, because you can send someone a Slack message and say, you know, “I started here a couple months ago; I know your time is really valuable and you're busy, but I would love to just get 15 minutes on the calendar to have a quick Zoom chat and you know, just learn about what you're working on and see where I can add value,” right? Like do that to the VP of your team. Make sure that you just create that quick connection so they know who you are, and when it comes time to potentially get promoted, when they see your name, you're not like just, you know, someone like, “Who the heck is that person?” They're like, “Oh yeah, Katie, she was amazing. We had that great conversation. Oh yeah, this person’s totally getting promoted,” right? So that makes a really, really big difference. And that's sort of part of the same strategy as what I like to think of as playing the corporate game.
Now I know a lot of people are kind of uncomfortable with this, because they feel like it's disingenuine and I hear all the time, “I'm an authentic-first person, it feels like I'm being fake when I play the corporate game.” But I think it's just, it is what the corporate world is, right? Like you gotta, what is it called? Rub elbows with the right people. You have to figure out who the decision-makers are, who are the people that you wanna chat with and say, like, “How's your family doing? How was your vacation?” Right? Like there's a part of the corporate world where you just have to do that, and frankly, the people who get promoted more quickly tend to be the people who are really good at that skill and just know who to get in front of, how to build those relationships, how to really build that rapport and create those connections where it just helps their growth, right? So I think it's really a combination of all of that: vocalizing it, playing the corporate game, internal visibility, getting clear on who the decision-makers are, and just focusing on all those different things and components.
Katie: The soft skills. That's really fascinating. I mean, okay, so a couple things that you just said that I wanna kind of highlight 'cause they stuck out to me. Number one, you surprised me. You said remote work has made this easier. I thought you were gonna say it's made it harder, because all we see is, you're not gonna have these run-ins in the hallway or like…this has happened to me. Like I met the VP of my kind of team or department that would eventually hire and promote me in the ladies’ restroom and we had a conversation about her shoes. Like there are things that kind of happen organically at work, but I like that you gave this tactic of you know, you can clearly look at this org chart, you can see who you report up to, you can reach out via Slack. “Hey, don't wanna take up too much of your time, just wanna say hello.” And I love that you kind of gave a tactic for, like, it doesn't necessarily have to make this harder if you find yourself in a remote work position. I thought that was really interesting.
The other thing that I wanted to kind of reiterate is, this soft skills piece of it reminds me of, I can't remember where I once heard this, but this concept of a workplace is really just a collection of people. And the things that make you likable to people you're meeting socially are often the things that are gonna make you likable and visible to the people in a work setting too.
Eliana Goldstein: Exactly.
Katie: Obviously there are different professional standards that you're gonna adhere to in a work setting, but these are ultimately groups of people, and when you can “play the game” is probably the wrong phrase 'cause that does make it sound like it's inauthentic or transactional. But when you are able to maintain relationships with people and generally be a well-liked, reliable individual, I can see why that would make it easier. Particularly in instances where, like you said, you might be meeting all your goals, you might be doing everything right, but unfortunately that's not the only thing that has to happen in order for you to experience career success.
Eliana Goldstein: Exactly.
Katie: Which I just think is fascinating, 'cause in a perfect world, yeah, you meet all your goals, you do the things you're supposed to do, yeah, you should move up, but…so let's talk lateral moves, vertical moves. Are there different strategies to how you approach these, and how do we figure out whether a lateral move or a vertical move is the right move for us?
Eliana Goldstein: It's interesting, you know. Now more than ever, I'm finding that when I go and speak at corporate companies, this is a topic I'm asked about all the time, because there's always been such an emphasis on vertical movement, which is, you know, your typical growth trajectory. I'm an account manager; I'm gonna become a senior account manager; I'm then gonna become team lead and then VP, and just like moving up in that way. And companies are like, well, we want our employees to realize that they're not necessarily stuck in this exact growth path, and if they wanna make a lateral move, aka move entirely different departments, like I work, you know, on social media and now I wanna become a project manager, that's available to them as well. And I think companies are recognizing that if they can support that type of lateral movement, people are more likely to stay, and you're gonna have, you know, better retention and less turnover because they don't feel like they're stuck and pigeonholed into this specific role. So I love to see the companies focusing on that.
And what I would really say is, it comes down to just recognizing what your strengths are and really being honest with yourself about whether you enjoy your role. If you are, again, going back to that example, like I'm an account manager, I'm very client-facing, I love that client interaction, I love being able to support people and build relationships, and I really enjoy this and see myself growing there. Then let's focus on vertical movement. Let's figure out how you can move to the next level. How you can support a team of account managers who are doing the same thing, right? Like in that instance, that vertical movement is going to make a lot of sense. But if you are feeling like, you know what, I don't even know if I wanna manage people first and foremost, and I don't even really feel like I'm enjoying my work much anymore. I'm noticing that I'm only enjoying certain pockets of my day where I focus on streamlining this project, whatever it might be, then you might wanna say to yourself, okay, let me explore a lateral move, whether at my company or into a potentially different company. Or I'm moving into a different field of work where I'm moving into a different type of role that maybe hits on some transferable skills that I've uncovered for myself while doing that work.
So it really comes down to like thinking about, okay, like where do I wanna be in a year from now? What am I enjoying most, and which of these moves is going to better align with that vision, and support and facilitate that?
Katie: Interesting. Love this focus of like, how much of your day are you enjoying? Is it the minority or the majority of the day of the role that you're really liking? So okay, let's say you make this lateral move. You are…I'm gonna use a personal anecdote to make this real. Let's say you go from being a brand copywriter to a UX writer working on user experiences and user interfaces. They're the same level; they pay the same when you make the jump, but now you're in this new role that is a little bit different than what you were doing before. Maybe you're not really on even footing yet. How can we make ourselves more marketable once we're in that role to help accelerate our growth?
Eliana Goldstein: So I mean it's such a good question and it sounds so simplistic, but I think a lot of the times people really overcomplicate it. So first and foremost, like before you start marketing yourself, you need to get clear on what you want to market about yourself in the first place, if that makes sense, right? I think it's sort of that notion of uncovering your own personal brand at work: what you wanna be known for, what you enjoy doing, what you want people to come to you for, and really getting clarity on that so that you can express that in a really clear and effective way. It's like almost coming up with your own elevator pitch. You know, “I'm in this new role, this is why I'm here, this is what I'm really good at, this is how I can help you.” And really making sure you understand that really clearly so that you can effectively communicate that to others.
So once you're clear on, okay, this is what I wanna be known for, this is my “zone of genius,” this is where I can help you, start sharing that. Like building the brand awareness, like any good brand would do. Again, go back to that notion of, have that conversation with your manager in your next one-on-one. Share, you know, “I know I'm new here and I know we're really figuring out a working relationship and how we can be successful. I wanted to share with you a little bit about what my skill set really is and where I tend to be really strong when it comes to various projects. Like these are the skills I'm really good at, these are the tasks I'm really good at. This is where I'm gonna, you know, raise my hand and say, like put me in, coach, this is where I can help.” Right? So have that conversation with your manager, and if you're feeling really good, have that conversation with your manager's manager, right? Like bring it up the chain.
And then another thing is having that conversation with your team. I think so often nobody's really clear on what their skill set is within a team, and then there's a lot of like duplicative work where one person could be doing it, but it's just like efforts are not divvied out in a really cohesive and responsible way. So I think if you encourage your teammates and say, hey, this is what I'm good at, this is what I really enjoy, this is where I can help you guys, what do you think? What are your thoughts on that? And you can figure out where everyone is really strong and what their value is, and it just creates a better team dynamic and it allows people to get clear on, okay, how you can be helpful, what your brand is, what your value is. And at the same time it gets you clear on what their brand is and what their value is, so that everyone can work together more effectively.
So I think it's like, it's so simple, but it really is just having these conversations, and the truth is, people just don't have them, right? We get so caught up in the day-to-day and the meetings and the projects and the deadlines that we don't pause to really think about, okay, how can I advocate on my behalf? How can I just have a normal conversation with my teammate about, this is what I like doing, what do you like doing? Like how can I help you on this project? Here's how you can help me, right? It's simple but it's so effective, and we just, we forget to do it sometimes.
Katie: To me that makes a lot of sense, especially for teams where you have people that are doing similar jobs, or like in org structures where you maybe have, like…I would be on teams of writers where I didn't really know, I mean I knew what products they were working on, but I didn't really know what they were better at than me or what I was better at. It was just kind of like, well, we all kind of have the same job, and I can imagine, particularly with kind of this description that you're giving of being the instigator of that positive movement and that alignment of like, well, hey, let's talk for a second. Like this is where I feel my strengths are, this is where it seems your strengths are, but like, you tell me, what are you good at? And that to me seems like if you're not in a position of leadership but you want to be, that will be noticed, that you kind of serve that function and that you're good at getting people to work together. So to me that kind of serves like a double whammy of making it easier for you to work with others, but also probably setting you up for success in your own ascension.
So Eliana, before we close out today, this has been great. I just had one last question for you. So you know, we've talked a lot about what happens once you're in the job. For someone who's listening to this who may be in the job hunt or who is thinking about entering the job market, let's talk LinkedIn for a second. Do you have any tips for the person who needs to get that profile right and tight?
Eliana Goldstein: Yes, absolutely. And it's funny, I literally did a post today on how like everyone sleeps on LinkedIn, when it's by far the most important job search tool there is. So, so, so important. So actually going back to a lot of about what we talked about today, what you really wanna market on LinkedIn is what you're ultimately good at, right? Because that's what I'm assuming is the type of work that you wanna do. So you wanna really think about first and foremost like keywords. Just like Google's a search engine, LinkedIn is a search engine for recruiters. So you wanna think about, what are the keywords relevant to the skills that I enjoy doing, that I'm really good at, and how can I build those into my profile?
So first and foremost, we think about our LinkedIn headline where, you know, our name is and usually our job title is. We wanna leverage in and layer in keywords there relevant to the roles that we are targeting, so we're more likely to appear in searches. So that's tip number one: super, super important.
Number two is your About section. So this is your opportunity to tell a little bit about your story, like whereas your resume is kind of the more stuffy formal piece, think about your LinkedIn as the place to bring a little bit of color. This is my background. If you're pivoting, talk about that pivot. What inspired you to make it happen? Talk about those transferable skills, right? Like build that into your About section to show that you're a real person with real skills and real feelings and like what you can bring to a team and to a company from there. Like it kind of depends on the field you're going into.
But I think another section people tend to sleep on is the Featured section. So you can link relevant articles, if you've ever been in an article, you can link to your portfolio, if you're in a visual field, like include pictures and images to really showcase your work, things of that nature. I think Featured is such a really good section that most job seekers don't include. Also like licenses and certifications, you know, everyone and their mother’s like getting a Google certificate these days, right? So layer in all those different pieces. Whatever you have, showcase it there.
And then the other big thing that I think job seekers just don't do, which they really should, is content, right? You don't have to be someone who's like putting together these amazing writing pieces, but get active on the platform. Like share an article that's relevant to the field of work that you're in. Like if you use it just like any algorithm works, the more you use the platform, the more you're gonna show up in searches. So share articles that are relevant to companies that you're targeting. Like recruiters will see that follow the companies you're interested in. A lot of the times, recruiters actually will filter based on people who follow and like their company on LinkedIn. So it's like all those little things to really raise your hand and show interest.
So those are just a couple. I could talk about this for an hour, but like those are a couple tips and tricks that I would recommend for job seekers.
Katie: Oh my god, okay. That's a hack. Also like being, not to say that you have to be like a LinkedIn thinkboi or anything, but I do think there's something there where…I didn't work at Meta for very long, but when I did work there, there was an internal platform that they used because everything internally was like Meta-built products. I think it was called Workplace, and it was kind of like an internal LinkedIn for everyone to use. And I noticed that immediately the people in my kind of sphere, my part of the org that were really well-known and that had that, I would call it like professional clout, were the ones that were posting about the work they were doing, they were doing like case studies, they were sharing out these findings, and you kind of got the sense of like, wow, these people are really passionate about this product or about this work, and it made you want to work with them more. They were inspirational and they were kind of the people that you wanted to be put on projects with, 'cause you knew that they were very engaged. And I can see why that same concept, while that is an internal example, I can see why from an external perspective, if you're a recruiter, that's obviously going to be an attractive candidate to you, because it shows that this person is engaged with their work and cares about their field and has a point of view. Maybe they're even, you know, gonna use the word “thought leader.” I know that's a little bit annoying, but I think that's a great tip. I've never thought about using LinkedIn in that way, so I love that. Eliana, thank you so much for being here today. Any last words?
Eliana Goldstein: No, I think that this was such a great conversation, and it's funny that you were saying that, Katie, because as you were talking about the people who shared what they were doing, in my head I was thinking, “and those people probably like grew more quickly and got promoted more quickly, right?” Like if you think back to that, just, it goes back to all that notion of like advocacy, putting yourself out there, like any way that you can do that is only gonna benefit you. So yeah, I love that, and this was great. Thank you so much for having me.
Katie: Love it. Amazing. Thank you.
Welcome back to Rich Girl Roundup. As a reminder, we will take listener questions every month. I will put out a call for questions on Instagram. Follow @MoneywithKatie, and we will pick one that feels widely applicable, and we will answer it. As always, standard disclaimer: not a financial professional, not financial advice. This is just “What would Katie do if she were in your shoes?” And now from our sponsors. Paid non-client of Betterment. Views may not be representative. See more reviews at the App Store and Google Play Store. Learn more about this relationship betterment.com/moneywithkatie. This segment is brought to you by Betterment, the online investing platform that gives you the tools, inspiration, and support that will help you become a better investor.
This week's question is from Lauren. “I'm a new listener who's just learning about FIRE. Rising inflation costs, especially around groceries and other necessities, feels like it holds a lot of people back from really being able to cut back on spending to reach FIRE. What are your best tips or recommendations on how to approach necessity shopping as costs rise? Are you an avid wholesale shopper like Costco and suppliers of the like? It seems impossible to cut back on living expenses when living costs so much.”
First of all, yes, things are definitely more expensive, and it sucks. Though, silver lining: For those of us who have not yet FIREd into a world where we were planning for 3% inflation and got 8% instead, we are fortunate enough to still be in the workforce in some capacity generating income, which gives us flexibility. And we know that the general CPI reading of 8.3% is not a flat increase across the board. Some prices have risen a lot higher than that, while others have not been as affected. It's an average of a specific basket of goods. So it's being primarily driven right now by food, energy, and import/export costs, which basically means supply chain issues. Importantly, the inflation reading has been going back down; it peaked at 9.1% in June year over year, and appears to be responding at least modestly to rate hikes, which still confuses me. But anyway, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that we will see much lower prices next year. But if we are being pessimists and we assume 8% inflation is here to stay, for the sake of simplicity, we can assume our spending across the board went up by 8.3%. We can quantify what we're up against. This means if we spent $5,000 last year, our same lifestyle this year would cost $5,415 to maintain the exact same purchase habits.
Now this doesn't feel good, of course, and I really commend your willingness to change your approach by shopping wholesale at places like Costco or buying different food. And if you feel compelled to give those things a try, absolutely, go for it. I don't see why not. But I do have a bit of a different perspective that may surprise people here. An increase in spending from $5,000 to $5,400 per month is extremely annoying and painful, but it's not an insurmountable challenge. And obviously if you have items in your budget overall that can be cut out—like gym memberships you don't use, recurring appointments that you don't get that much out of, subscription clothing or pet toy services you may not really need—it's probably wise to cut them, and you'll probably be able to knock out larger chunks of your expenses that way than by buying food in bulk, since food overall is more expensive, and the savings of wholesale will be limited around the margins.
After all, this is just a math problem, right? It's income minus expenses. So if our expenses are going up, there's one other lever we can play with here, and that's not to say you shouldn't cut costs. If you know deep down that there are areas where you could trim, do so. But the point is that trimming is limited in its utility, because eventually there's not much else we can hack away before we've totally sucked the joy out of our lives. I actually think in this instance, where inflation is high, but the labor market is still very strong, it might be productive to think about ways to increase income instead. At the end of the day, you may have an easier time either negotiating an 8% raise once or maybe over a series of raises, doing some additional freelancing work, maybe some contract work, maybe switching jobs entirely, rather than changing the way you approach things like grocery shopping every single week. That's not to say the groceries won't be more expensive. At this point, I almost feel like we have to just concede that things are gonna cost a little bit more in the foreseeable future, but the benefits of working to increase your income are long-lasting, and I think the ROI on the time you're gonna spend doing that, as opposed to looking for more ways to cut costs, compounds more in the long run.
All right, y'all. That is all for this week. I will see you next week, same time, same place, on The Money with Katie Show. Our show is a production of Morning Brew and is produced by Henah Velez and me, Katie Gatti Tassin, with our audio engineering and sound design from the talented Nick Torres. Devin Emery is our chief content officer, and additional fact checking comes from the lovely Kate Brandt.