Courtesy of Christian Lovell
Christian Lovell earns nearly $200,000 as an analyst for the LA County Department of Human Resources.She started her career earning under $40,000 but leveled up through job selection and negotiation.To land her next high-paying roles, she identified transferrable skills and advocated herself.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Christian Lovell, a 30-year-old career strategist, human-resources professional, and online influencer in Los Angeles. Insider has verified her income with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m an analyst for the Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources, where I provide job placement and training services to LA County municipal employees.
I’ve also been a career strategist and online influencer since 2019 as a side hustle. I offer résumé and interview tips, job-growth coaching, and more to help my audience of mostly women land their dream jobs.
Most of my clients find me through Instagram, where I have 267,000 followers. I’ve always worked in public service, and I love getting people jobs.
In the past decade, I’ve more than quadrupled my salary in my full-time roles. Here’s my advice for leveling up in your career.
At my first job after college, I earned $37,000
After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in public policy and law in 2014, I turned my senior-year internship at the LA County Metro Transportation Authority into a full-time entry-level role at $37,000.
After one year, I joined the Teach for America program, and then I earned my master’s degree in teaching, with an emphasis on administration. I taught at a charter school and then a unified high school, where I earned just over $35,000.
My salaries at those jobs were not enough to afford LA’s high cost of living, so I couldn’t take care of my growing family.
When I asked my supervisor at my most recent teaching role about leadership potential and shared my goals for growth, I was told there was no opportunity for me. I felt pigeonholed and forced to switch industries, which was hard because I loved teaching.
I’ve since learned that personal branding and marketing are key when pivoting in a career. I identified my transferrable skills, like analytical expertise and time management, looked for jobs with those skills listed on LinkedIn and GovernmentJobs.com, and made sure my résumé highlighted them.
I was also selective with the roles I applied to, because a job search is a job in itself, so I didn’t apply to jobs that were too far below what I wanted.
My next job came with a raise to $69,500
When I pivoted to the LA County Library as a management fellow in May 2018, it was a scary jump, and I wasn’t sure I was ready or qualified. But I went for it anyway and received my first big pay bump, to $69,500.
I’m always looking for the next step in my career, and you should, too. Switching jobs can be a top method for earning a higher salary.
If you’re not receiving an annual raise of 3 to 5%, look for a bigger role in the same company, a similar role in a new company, or even a new job in a new industry. You should be constantly evaluating your needs and wants, and what is, or isn’t, working in your current job.
Another driver for me is looking beyond the salary, which is still important because I want to retire early. But I also want job stability, growth, benefits, and a solid organization, especially as a parent with other responsibilities outside of work.
I started as a human-resources analyst in 2021 in my first 6-figure role, making $105,000
This was my first role at the LA County of Human Services. I pivoted to this job after the management-fellow job at the library because I had outgrown my role and needed a new challenge. I had my eye on the market, made sure my skills matched the growth I wanted, and started applying to jobs a few months before I intended to leave. It was still a scary jump.
When I interviewed for that role in 2020, I asked for more money than they were offering, and I explained the value I brought to the role based on my past experience. I ended up getting the higher salary — tens of thousands of dollars more than they originally offered — and if I hadn’t asked, I never would’ve received more.
I earned a promotion and raise 2 ½ years after I started, and now I earn close to $200,000.
I have 3 top tips for professional growth
Set goals. I’ve always wanted to make a difference, so I take roles that make an impact on my community. I also wanted to make $100,000 by the time I was 30, and I surpassed that at age 26 by maintaining an upward trajectory and staying financially focused.
Communicate your value. Spend time on your personal branding because that’s really where the money is. Build a “brag folder”: a document, note on your phone, or folder on your desktop where you record your progress and achievements, so when you ask for more money, you have metrics to back it up.
Network. This is a huge driver of resources, so join professional groups, attend events, and find a mentor. Make sure people know your name, that you have something to offer, and that you stay in touch. Lean into social media, too, as that brings connections and opportunity in the future.