In our series My 6-Figure Paycheck, women making more than $100,000 open up about how they got there and what exactly they do. We take a closer look at what it feels like to be a woman making six figures — when only 5% of American women make that much, according to the U.S. Census — with the hope it will give women insight into how to better navigate their own career and salary trajectories.
Location: San Francisco, CA
Degree: Bachelor's in Psychology
First Salary: $50,000
Current Salary: $120,000 (plus $40,000 sign-on bonus in stock, twice annual bonus, and $10,000 relocation package)
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"I went through so many phases: from veterinarian to a therapist to an academic counselor. I think the consistent theme that threads them together is the desire to help others. Which I get to do in my current role by connecting individuals with their dream opportunities."
What did you study in college?
"I studied at San Diego State University. I received my bachelor's degree in psychology, with an emphasis in industrial and organizational psychology."
Did you have to take out student loans?
"I took out about $22,000 in student loans. I am on target to pay them off this year! That's five years post-graduation."
Have you been working at this job since you graduated from college?
"Prior to my current role, I worked for one other company. There, I held multiple roles within the HR department. As a new grad, I aimed for a Fortune 500 company and took an entry-level role with hopes of proving myself and being promoted.
"I worked on a more operations-type coordinator role and eventually found myself in recruiting. This was great from a learning perspective, as my responsibilities grew very quickly and I felt like I learned the ins and outs. But after a few years, I realized that it was tough to shake the 'you should be grateful for where you're at now' dynamic.
"Although I had been promoted and often received feedback on how essential I was to the group, I learned that people who were hired and joined the company externally were being paid much more than me, despite my frequent but small pay bumps. It was a tough leap to make, but when I finally jumped ship, I felt validated. I almost doubled my salary by starting a new but very similar role. I only wish I had done it sooner."
How would you explain your day-to-day role at your job?
"As a recruiter, I work with our business to build a talent and hiring strategy. I travel frequently to conferences, regional offices, and sometimes universities to promote the company brand and build a pipeline of candidates. I work with the teams to interview and hire new employees at a quick and efficient rate."
Did you negotiate your salary?
"In the offer stage of my current opportunity, they asked me to give them a range of my salary expectations. They came back with an offer at the top of my range. I was, of course, very happy, but I also felt a hint of regret that I didn't aim higher.
"This experience taught me how important it is to do research. There are so many resources available to us on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, even Quora. People are becoming much more salary transparent, and women need to use it to their advantage."
Is your current job your “passion”? If not, what is?
"To some degree. I am passionate about helping individuals and connecting them to opportunities. Although I would like to stay within human resources, my goal is to transition into a role that works to develop and engage with existing employees."
If you could, would you change anything in your career trajectory?
"As I said before, I wish I had made the leap from my Fortune 500 job sooner. I feel like I am on a great career trajectory now, and often try to remind myself to not compare to others and what they are making."
What professional advice would you give your younger self?
"Know your worth! There's a fine balance between taking on as many jobs as you can to prove you are a hard worker and taking all of the jobs that nobody else wants.
"Be selective and know when to tell your boss: 'I know I'm good at ABC project or responsibility, but I feel that the XYZ project or responsibility would be a better use of my talents and interests.'"
Are you a woman under 35 with a six-figure salary ($100,000+) and want to tell your story? Submit it here.