Saturday, April 18, 2015

How To Maximise Your Active Income

We all started it somehow or rather like this. Finished our studies and finding a good job (Becoming an Employee). This is when we started earning our first paycheck and saving up our excess after our expenses. Since we need to start earning money and saving money so that we can invest the rest (Passive Income). Performing at our job (Active Income) became an important factor how fast we can achieve our financial freedom.

When I started working, I already had a plan in mind. For my first 5 to 10 years, I am going to work at private sector to gain experience, and see how far I can go. After that, with my experience, I will settle for a stable job in the govt sector. Well, I did execute my plan years ago with moderate results.

Let us discuss the traits/characteristics you need on how to help you perform in your job so that you can stay in your job longer (yes, survival skills! Its a jungle out there!), get a higher income or promotion and invest your excess income. We will not go into specific jobs as everyone of us may hold different jobs. We will just touch on the general traits. These are just what are my feel I gathered from friends, colleagues while working as an employee. Feel free to discuss below.

Rating (*=least important, **=moderately important, *** = most important)
TraitsPrivate Sector Govt Sector Verdict
Work Performance - determine how well you do in your job**** ** 2 star rating for both sectors:
When I started work, I used to think that work performance is the way to go and the best way to differentiate me from the rest. I was dead right. This was what my boss told me recently 'Everyone has assignments or projects just like you or me, what makes us different from the rest is those tasks or things we do outside work'. Thats right, the CCAs. Eg, involve in committee work, organise games for department, volunteers for charity work etc. That leads to another very important trait which we will discuss later - profile.
'Tahanbility' - your ability to 'tahan' or endure the sh*t****** *** 3 star rating for both sectors:
No matter where you go, you just need to have the 'omph' in you just like the rabbit toy playing the drum in the Durecell advertisment. The going will get tough and you will need to endure the sh*t. Its not easy cause sometimes you are down and not motivated but tell yourself you will be a whole lot better person when you pull through it. There's no such thing as a stress-free job even the auntie cashier at McDonald is also under tremendous stress and their pay is just $4 per hour. I once witnessed Mcdonald customers scolding a auntie when she was slow, probably new at her work. Wah people old liao just close 1 eye and wait patiently lor. But not many Singaporeans are like me ok? ;)
Seniority - your number of years in the company*** * 1 star rating:
At private sector, there's no preference given for your seniority in the company. However, when you are more senior of course you will have the most knowledge and experience which will help you in doing a better job. It may not be so for some people. Even though they have been in the company for the longest time but they know nuts.

** 2 star rating:
I believed that in the govt sector, the HR does track individual progression. If an individual has been stuck in the position for certain years, the HR will highlight and ask the management how can they help the guy to be able to perform the next level's job. So it does seem like if you are more senior, you get to be promoted first then the other guy that came in later.
Salary - how much are you getting paid*** ** 2 star rating:
I think its quite true that private sector pays better and have higher increment than govt sector. Just by looking at the starting pay of fresh grad, those people when they see the starting pay in the govt sector, they will walkout of the recruitment talk or tear away the recruitment brochure

* 1 star rating:
In govt sector, there's the abominable salary ceiling. If you hit the ceiling and not promoted to the next level, you will not get any increment for as long as you are not promoted. And what are we talking about 4% inflation when you got 0% increment.
Motivation - get your mojo going**** ** 2 star rating for both sectors:
You just need to get your engine going and get motivated. Its not easy because you are going to work for the rest of your life or at least until you retire. 30? 40 years of work? I still remember one of my teacher who told the whole class that if anyone of us need to repeat for a year to get a better result. Just do it. What is 1 year compared to the many years of working life?

Some get motivated by their faith, money, career, some just get motivated because of their family to provide them a better and comfortable life. Go and find your motivation. You are going to need it.
Job Security - determine how secured or how long you can stay in your job**** * 1 star rating:
At the private sector especially MNCs, its very real. When company is not doing well or when there's an economic crisis. The angmo bosses will not hesitate to cut headcounts especially if the head office in USA or Europe gave orders to cut headcounts in Asia. They will do it to reduce costs. Or sometimes managers or staff are not performing up to expectation, they will be given warning and monitoring period. If no improvement which usually is the case, they will sack the fellow. I have seen managers getting the sack with no advance notice. They are told to leave the next day. No handover or no time for you to say goodbye, too malu to say goodbye too. They just disappear or disintegrate into thin air.

*** 3 star rating:
At the govt sector, there's no worries during recession. Yes, we do get our pay freeze or pay cut but there's no fear that you will lose your job. This also means that during recession when every stocks or property is at great discount, you can just buy them and have no fear that you will have no money to pay for them. For those poor performers or 'deadwood', I think its a lot more lenient here. The most they will be blacklisted or no performance bonus but they still get to keep their jobs.
Profile - determine how exposed, famous, vocal you are in the company****** *** 3 star rating for both sectors:
This is what I feel one of the most important factor no matter where you are. You got to make yourself high profile, visible, high exposure. Just like an actor or actress, you need to be exposed to as many drama, magazine, airtime, advertisement, variety show, interview, etc as much as possible. You don't want the people to ask who is this guy??

If you are an introvert, you got to step out of it. Be a social butterfly. Be friendly and small talk with people. Leave a good impression.

If you are really those 'thick skinned' type, better still, chat or build network with your bosses' boss, management people. This is not easy for some people as they are not comfortable with it. However, some people seems like a natural.

Try not to overdo it and do it with style. If not, your colleagues will think you are degrading, cheap slut.

Its an art, not a science.
Office Politics - determine the dirty games and hidden agenda**** *** 3 star rating for private sector:
The office politics in private sector is worst than govt sector. Mainly because some people have little things to do, they are not so occupied so they started playing games with others. Its especially worst at management level. Also job security is also not there, so people resort to dirty tricks to win their competitors. Much like a survival series. You have people smiling at you and then they complain about you, back stabbing, make things difficult for you so that you perform poorly, all sorts of things.

* 1 star rating for govt sector:
Over here, politics are lesser but not completely nil. Most people goes around doing their things. They usually don't bother about you. Mainly because in govt sector most people just want to earn a living and not so competitive as in private sector as they are fighting for their rice bowls and promotion. Govt sector also have lots of documentation, duties, work to do. So everyone is kept busy, no time for politics haha
Boss orientation - determine how you 'tripod' or suck up your boss****** *** 3 star rating for both sector:
This is an important trait, be boss oriented, do what he/she wants. Learn her pattern or style and do it in such a flavour that she will love it. Be like her. If she is hardworking, mimick her If she is a sociable person, try to be like her. Boss normally like someone who are just like themselves.
Education - determine your paper qualification******* 2 star rating:
Better education at private sector probably will give you a good headstart but most of the time they will accept you based on your experience, some recommendation from your friends and how well you perform at interview. If you are in your job and have just completed a tertiary education, sometimes they just gave you a commendation letter to congratulate you. There's no promotion as it is based on work performance.

*** 3 star rating:
Govt sector's recruitment main criteria is education. They have very strict job segregation eg Junior and Senior Officers. Junior officers are those diploma and below. Senior officers are those with degree. If you are a junior officer, matter how well you perform without that degree, you will always be a Junior Officer. This is very frustrating for them as some of them I have seen have been in the department for many years and their new bosses knew nuts about the businesses. But they are always stuck in their job. However, I have seen Junior Officer getting their promotion to Senior Officer when they completed their degree course. Work performance just need to be average its enough.

I have also seen my fair share of scholars in SAF and govt sector getting promoted real fast. Their career path had been planned out for them. They just need to complete their cycle of duties and *BOOMZ* they will be promoted to the next level. So the morale of the story: Study hard when you are a student :)

See now you know why your parents keep telling you to study hard when you have the chance? Now I have been telling my daughters to study hard too. When they get older hopefully I can tell them about all these. If not, I hope they will find my blog and learn from my experience :)

Note: Best investment is to invest in yourself

If we can just be like playing a role playing game where you can build our own character by allocating points to our desired attributes, I would do it this way:
Total 20 points for distribution (max 3 points, min 1 point)
TraitsPrivate Sector Govt Sector Points
Work Performance - determine how well you do in your job**** 2
'Tahanbility' - your ability to 'tahan' or endure the sh*t****** 3
Seniority - your number of years in the company*** 1
Salary - how much are you getting paid*** 1
Motivation - get your mojo going**** 1
Job Security - determine how secured or how long you can stay in your job**** 2
Profile - determine how exposed, famous, vocal you are in the company****** 3
Office Politics - determine the dirty games and hidden agenda**** 1
Boss orientation - determine how you 'tripod' or suck up your boss****** 3
Education - determine your paper qualification*****3

So how do you want to build your character?

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