CheatSheet / Carlota Zimmerman

Cheat Sheet on Making a 6-Figure Salary

June 27, 2017


If you’re like most workers, you dream of one day landing a six-figure job. You think about the new home you’ll buy, the debt you’ll finally pay down, and the emergency savings fund you can finally beef up. The idea of making six figures is pretty fabulous, but how do you get there? What’s the secret to unlocking the door to this mystical place?

Well, The Cheat Sheet is here to tell you. Take some notes, and prepare to learn how you can take your career to the next level. Here are some secrets for how to interview for and get a six-figure job.

Dress like a boss

Interviewing for a senior-level position means you’ll be under more scrutiny. First impressions are crucial, so you’ll want to make sure you pay close attention to how you dress. Your future supervisor is looking for someone who can lead, so dress like a leader. A manager will pay attention not only to your style of dress but also the colors you choose.

Research shows interviewers tend to favor darker colors, such as navy, black, and blue. These color choices demonstrate you’re serious about getting the job and you mean business. Steer clear of brightly colored suits.

Expect a lengthy round of interviews

When you’re interviewing for an executive-level job, there’s a lot more at stake. You’ll be managing a department, more salary and resources will be spent on you, and you’ll have access to key information others in the company will not be privy to. Consequently, you can expect to get grilled by the hiring team.

Success strategist Carlota Zimmerman told us patience is key. “You’ll probably start off being contacted by a recruiter. … There will be more levels of people you have to meet and impress, and more negotiations. One of my clients had to endure six screener interviews over the phone before progressing to the first face-to-face interview. She got the job, but it was almost a year and a half of interviewing,” Zimmerman said.

Lunch is still part of the interview

Depending on the position, you might be asked to participate in an all-day interview that might include lunch, certified career coach Cheryl E. Palmer said. When you reach this level, it’s not unusual for an interviewer to take a candidate offsite for a meal.

During most of the day, eyes will be on you, so don’t get too comfortable. Keep your game face on, and remember you’re still being interviewed, even during your meal. So don’t let your guard down.

Have a conversation

Your personality counts. Interviewers aren’t interested in having a robotic exchange. A six-figure job interview should be a conversation between equals. Ryan says it shouldn’t just be a question-and-answer session or a performance where you’re doing back flips to win your interviewer’s approval and prove how special you are.

If you weren’t talented, you wouldn’t have made it to the point where you would be able to interview for a six-figure job. The discussion should be about what you have to offer and how you can help the company reach their goals.

Address the company’s business pain

One major skill an interviewer will look for is your ability to be a problem solver. The very reason companies engage in the hiring process is because they’re seeking to solve a problem, or a business pain, said Human Workplace founder Liz Ryan. The higher the position, the more significant your role will be in solving that pain. Show the hiring manager you are the Aspirin they seek. Once you successfully demonstrate this skill, you’re one step closer to sealing the deal.

Ask (and answer) the right questions

How can you effectively address a company’s business pain? You do this by asking the right questions. Do some research to find out what major challenges have been plaguing the department you’re interviewing for, as well as the company. Seek to gain a better understanding of the problem the employer seeks to solve.

One difference between other interviews and the six-figure job interview is it’s not enough to do quick research just to prove you know a few factoids about the company. Once you’ve stepped into six-figure territory your research should be focused on finding out the company’s major pain points and then actively searching for ways you can provide a solution to those problems.

Be prepared with concrete examples of success

Illustrate your ability to carry out key company initiatives. What have you done in your previous job that shows you’re able not only to come up with new ideas but also successfully execute them?

“Employers want candidates to provide more examples of success they’ve achieved,” Tim Hird, executive director of  Robert Half Management Resources, told The Cheat Sheet. “Hiring managers go beyond the hypothetical and look for past actions to predict how a candidate will function as part of the team in the future.”

Have a vision for the department

Be prepared to tell the interviewer about the plans you have for the department if you choose to take the job. What new initiatives would you like to work on? Why? What unique skills and experience do you have that will take the company to the next level?

Show you have been thinking about what you can bring to the table and how you can help the company advance. Although the job interview is partly about you assessing whether this is a place you would want to work, it’s not just about you. At this level of hiring, the interviewer needs to know how you plan to boost their brand.

Present your strategy

Employers aren’t going around, offering a six-figure job to just anyone. You have to show you can deliver results. Demonstrate why you’re worth the investment. Once you’ve shared your vision, it’s time to explain your strategy for carrying out that vision.

Here are some questions you should be able to answer:

  • In what ways can you improve the company’s bottom line?
  • How can you help solve the company’s critical problems and get desired results?
  • How can you help the company surpass the competition and become the No. 1 company your industry?

 Act like a boss

None of this advice will matter much if you don’t convey confidence. If you’re unsure of yourself and don’t know whether you can do the job, you’ll need to get over those fears quickly. You need to get to the point where you’re confident in your skills. You must be able to let the hiring manager know you’re the right person for the job. Also, most six-figure jobs will require you to lead a team. If you lack confidence, how could you effectively lead?

Eric Anthony, founder of, said fear can be a turnoff for a hiring manager. “If you go into the interview thinking, ‘This is my dream job; I can’t mess this up,’ you won’t be relaxed, and the best parts of you won’t shine through,” Anthony told The Cheat Sheet. “Let your passion shine through, but remember to be confident. An employer isn’t going to hire someone who’s acting like they don’t belong there.”

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