I wrote this post to answer a few questions I kept getting about my successes personally and professionally and I continue to get an occasional e-mail on this post every now and then.  Originally published May 2007.

Health care, Energy & Technology fields are red hot right now and various colleagues have been asking me how they can get in and make some real money in these industries. Most of the people I’m hiring these days are starting close to or above 100k in base salary and earning 10% to 20% bonuses on top of various other incentives (e.g. stock options) so they’re all licking their chops asking me what they can do to get in.


I’ve come up with a list of things you should have in your resume toolbox to get you in the door and hired:

1. Although I don’t particularly feel it necessary to have a college degree for many positions, most HR people won’t let you through the door unless you have a college diploma. You toolbox should include a degree, ANY degree to get you in the door. For goodness sake, even a liberal arts degree will help! Just don’t LIE about it because that will get you fired and tarnish your reputation.

2. Speaking of reputation, if you don’t have a college degree, it helps a great deal to have a network of references that will vouch for you and your work. I have a standard policy of writing letters of recommendations, recognition and commendation for people that do good work and am happy to be a reference for people that do quality work. NEVER burn any bridges, you’ll eventually come across them again in your lifetime.

3. If you are a manager or plan on being a manager (of any kind) you should consider training and certification in Project Management. The Project Management Institute is a great place to start – become a member. As a manager, it is inevitable that you’ll work on projects and having this certification and/or training is a great plus.

4. You should have professional certifications: If you are an accountant, you should receive and maintain your CPA; If you are in Technology, you should be certified in your specialty (e.g. Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco); If you are in Payroll, you should become a Certified Payroll Specialist; If you are a mechanic, you should get ASE certified. I could go on but you get the point.

5. You should have a professional wardrobe. I can’t tell you how many people I “skipped” over despite great credentials because a person dressed like a slob. When you’re climbing up the corporate ladder, you’ll be dealing with various executives, the media, and to some extent Wall Street pros, no one wants to see how frugal you can be with your money & wardrobe.

6. If you want to make some really big money, you’ll likely need to work for a public company that can issue you some juicy stock options. If you are a manager for a public company, you need to train yourself in Sarbanes Oxley compliance NO MATTER WHAT YOUR FIELD IS. I don’t care if you’re in HR or Marketing, knowing SOX compliance in a public company will make you MORE valuable than the person who doesn’t know it. Hence, when it comes around to issuing those stock options, the key people will remember how valuable you are to them with that SOX training.

7. If you’re working for a public company, you should know how to read the company’s financial statements. I don’t care if you’re in sales, marketing, technology,operations, human resources, or other department. If you’re lost, go over to http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/finance/quotes/quote-03.html or http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/finance/tools/research-21.html and start learning. As a manager, if you can intelligently discuss the company’s potential, problems and opportunities via the company’s financials then you’ll be much more valuable than someone who doesn’t.

8. If possible, learn a foreign language; real growth is coming from overseas these days and every edge helps. You don’t have to become fully fluent in another language but being able to get by helps tremendously.

9. You should have a mentor. You need someone to go to be able to talk about things when the going gets tough. Someone that can help you with salary negotiations when settling on a new job or help you through employee disputes or simply someone to celebrate your successes with; a person that you can trust implicitly.

10. You should have a career plan. I recommend 3 to 5 year goals, 8 year goals and 15 year goals. In essence, what title and salary do you want to earn 3 to 5 years from now, 8 years from now and 15 years from now. Write it down and work toward it everyday by doing 1 thu 9 above.