Why is $10,000 a year — or more — our success symbol? Who makes the grade? How do they do it?

ROY SHIELDS July 16 1960


Why is $10,000 a year — or more — our success symbol? Who makes the grade? How do they do it?

ROY SHIELDS July 16 1960



Why is $10,000 a year — or more — our success symbol? Who makes the grade? How do they do it?


reports on Canada’s salaried elite

WITHIN THE PAST fifteen years, society’s symbol of success has become the ten-thousand-dollar-a-year job. And though this symbol is composed of both fact and fancy, its meaning is clear. It suggests that when a man lands a job with a salary of at least ten thousand dollars — or, as happens more often, is promoted to a ten-thousand-dollar job — he has won entry into the inner circle. Not only does he gain prestige as a successful provider for his family, and respect as a substantial member of the community ... he also becomes a member of society’s dominant group.

Before World War II, the symbol was the five-thousanddollar-a-year job. Today the sum has doubled, and the symbol itself has taken on an extra sheen. Says Professor John Morgan, of the University of Toronto’s School of Social Work, ““The growing tendency to judge a man by the amount of money he makes is a simple fact of life.”

Usually, pulling down ten thousand a year means a man has become a manager or supervisor of other men. This naturally is not true of professional men like lawyers and doctors or of those running their own businesses. But since there are only 431,000 self-employed men in Canada (apart from farmers) compared with 3,203,000 salaried men, the jump into the tenthousand-dollar bracket nearly always means breaking into management.

A forceful illustration of this comes from a survey conducted last December by the Ontario Association of Professional Engineers.

From 10,745 replies to a questionnaire sent to its members, the association worked out the median salaries of Ontario engineers according to the number of years of experience they’ve had. For beginners the median is a little more than five thousand dollars. It rises almost steadily over the years, reaching ten thousand around the seventeenth year after graduation. But at a time when a typical engineer is forty years old, the median salary levels off; over the next ten years it rises only a thousand dollars.

But, far more significantly, the questionnaire also revealed how the engineers reached the ten-thousand-dollar level. It showed that eight of ten began CONTINUED OVERLEAF


their careers by doing the slide-rule technical chores they were trained for. But after they'd been on the job for seventeen years, the situation was reversed: eight of ten were in supervisory or managerial jobs (in the $ 10,000-a-ycar-and-over group), and only two in ten were still earning a living directly from the technical skills with which they started out.

In other words, the great majority of those who rose to the ten-thousand-dollar level did so through their ability to make decisions, not simply through their wizardry with a slide rule. The same principle applies to almost all other salaried


men in business and industry. The higher a man rises in a company, the less he can rely on his special training to gain promotion.

Special training is, of course, useful in getting started at a job that can lead to a ten-thousand-dollar supervisory position, and the student who is getting this kind of training usually has his first job lined up before he leaves university. Almost all Canadian universities have placement departments to which company recruiters flock each spring in search of graduates. Ken Bradford, the placement director at the University of Toronto, says that out of twenty-five hundred graduates this June, fewer than a hundred indicated to his department that they had trouble finding jobs. A few smaller universities have had less success in helping students get jobs. Bradford believes it is primarily because these universities have been slow in setting up placement departments.

Regardless of how he gets started, the man who has landed a promising job is still usually a long way from a tenthousand-dollar position. To get there, he will need either several promotions or one big jump to another company. It’s possible to get promotions simply by seniority — outlasting rivals who have moved up or moved on. Such plodding perseverance, however, is becoming less and less important. Competition is too keen in modern business for a man to play the waiting game with any assurance of success. He’s smarter to put in four or five years learning his job well, then find other ways of moving up.

Whichever route he chooses to the (comparatively) big money, a man is fairly certain, sooner or later, to face a battery of aptitude and personality tests. Until recently, few companies used tests except when hiring people at lower levels, but more and more firms are using them now to grade employees from the president on down. Dominion Electrohome Industries uses tests even for top executives. The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, with more reservations, has had Princeton University studying tests for several years, and will try one of them out for the first time this year.

Are the tests any good? Even psychologists can’t agree; but, valuable or not, they’re important to any man looking

for a better job — simply because many companies consider them important and use the results as a guide.

Psychological tests are usually conducted by psychologists or placement-bureau experts, and the interpreted results become confidential reports to the personnel manager or the head of the department concerned. A man is rarely told how he fared in relation to others. Many who take these tests find the secrecy unnerving, and even men who get the jobs they’re after may later be blocked from promotion because of their test results.

But anyone who is apprehensive about psychological tests can find a fairly painless cure by seeking out a psychologist and taking a test voluntarily. A man who has taken at least one test usually has a better grasp of his abilities; he’s usually lost most of his nervousness about tests, too. He has a greater chance of doing well on any new test he may face.

One common test consists of an 10 quiz and a series of questions designed to evaluate temperament, motivation, emotional stability, aggressiveness, drive, caution, self-confidence and so on. This one can cost as little as thirty dollars or as much as a hundred and twenty-five, depending on who is giving it. A test costing thirty to fifty dollars will usually accomplish what the volunteer wants: to learn what his (test) weaknesses are and how to avoid revealing them on any test required by his company or a prospective employer.

I took one of these tests — for “executive leadership” — from the Management Development Institute in Toronto. Here is how the report was summarized for a personnel director: Desirable Factors: “Motives are good with some idealistic tendencies. Vigorous and aggressive. Stable, self-sufficient and dominant. Analytical thinking very good. Family adjustment very good. Job adjustment excellent.”

Hazard (or areas where improvements could be made): Interests are remote from those found in successful leaders. Drive is inclined to be spasmodic. Some tendency to act impulsively. Over-confident when compared with employed executives.


Tendency to be unsociable. Tendency to be introverted.”

My final rating was:

Present: “When compared with employed executives, we would rate Mr. Shields—good.” (This means I just made it. The categories above me are “very good” and “excellent.”) Potential: “Must be matched with job requirements.” (This can be interpreted as “Be careful where you put this bird.”) After the test I studied the results with A. M. MacKinnon, director of the Management Development Institute, who explained how key questions are set up. I then felt confident I could deliberately give the answers an employer would want from a ten-thousand-dollar-a-year candidate.

To find out, I had myself tested again, this time at the Ontario Psychological Centre, without letting on what I was up to. For two days I sweated through three or four times the number of tests I had taken at the Management Development Institute. My scores caused the staff a good deal of headscratching.

What happened was that I overdid my attempt to project a favorable image. I suppressed most of my natural interests and showed a strong preference for everything mechanical and mathematical. Unfortunately this was in direct contradiction to my abilities.

Dr. H. O. Barrett, the psychologist interpreting the scores, kept puffing on his pipe and repeating. “Most unusual.” It seems 1 am one of those few people whose abilities (such as they are) show extremes—one of these extremes being a failure at the simplest kind of arithmetic. I’m embarrassed to say I was stumped by the addition, subtraction and multiplication schoolchildren do with ease. Why. then, did I have such a high


preference for such things as “working with numbers and fractions”?

I also outsmarted myself in other areas. In one test I suppressed feelings of abasement (psychologists’ jargon for a person’s tendency to make light of his own accomplishments). I did this because I thought no successful executive would have this trait. However, a score of forty to fifty percent is about right for abasement, and I pushed it down to one percent, thereby raising doubts about my emotional stability. I pushed succorance (the extent to which a person depends on others) down to seventeen percent; orderliness to eleven percent (I didn’t want to seem like a potential accountant); intraception (the extent to which a person analyzes the feelings of others) to six percent; and nurturance (the degree to which a person wants others to depend on him) to seven percent. On the other hand, I did manage to appear very sociable.

Actually I didn’t make a good guinea pig. I feel others might have more success in beating the tests that I did. Even so, my second test shows that the secret is not to try to create an image, but to score “average” or “normal. ’ I still think I could score on a third test.

At any rate, in taking a test on his own a man discovers his danger areas before someone else does. He adjusts on the next test. If, for example, a man draws a picture of a woman on a test requesting him merely to draw a person, there might be some questions asked. Or if he were asked to draw both a man and a woman and he drew a large woman and a little man, questions might be asked. But he wouldn't make the same mistake a second time.

No matter how a man makes out on a test, warns Dr. Gerald P. Cosgrave, of the YMCA CONTINUED ON PAGE 41



SALARIED PEOPLE in Canada number 4.625,000 — 3,203,000 men and 1,422,000 women.

THE AVERAGE SALARIED MAN today earns $4,700 a year. SALARIED WOMEN average only half as much, or about $2,400.

MOST MEN earn their highest incomes while they’re in their forties.

IMMIGRANTS ON SALARIES average almost as mach as the salaried population as a whole. Male immigrants who came to Canada between 1946 and 1955 and landed salaried jobs averaged $4,083 in 1957 — only $120 less than the general average.

CITIES AND TOWNS WITH HIGHEST INCOMES per person are (in order) Sault Ste. Marie, Sarnia, Sudbury, St. Catharines, The Pas and Flin Flon, Trail, Os haw a, Welland, Calgary, Brampton, Vancouver, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Shawinigan Falls, Toronto, Port Colborne, Peterborough, and Ottawa.

THE MEN WHO EARN $10,000 OR MORE made up only 1.2 percent of all salaried men at the last government tabulation, in 1957. Of this elite group, 52,703 were employees, 16,326 were business proprietors and 14,272 were professional people.

IN LARGE CORPORATIONS the percentage of $10,000 men varies tremendously from company to company. One large company with a relatively high ratio has a total of 16,000 men, of whom 600 earn $10,000 or more. Of 21,000 women employed by the same firm none earn $10,000; only three earn $8,000 or more.

IN THE RACE FOR $10,000 JOBS women are thus out of the running. Says Mrs. Betty Smith, director of Personnelle Placement Service, a Toronto job bureau for women, “Were five to ten years behind the U. S. in our willingness to accept women for jobs they can do as well as men.”



Continued from page 13

counseling service in Toronto, he should remember that a test is simply a measurement—it won't uncover hidden talents. Cosgrave, who has given thousands of tests, says: "Sometimes men of forty-five come in here and ask to be given tests to find out what their real interests are. Now what in the world are real interests? Some men even expect to find out what they should have heen."

Not all psychologists display Dr. Cosgrave's caution in interpreting tests. And some employers will accept a psychologist's verdict even when it's contrary to their personal evaluation of a job candidate. Neil Macdougall, general manager of Technical Service Council, tells of an industrial engineer "who was interviewed by and recommended by the chief industrial engineer, the plant manager, the employment department, the chief industrial engineer from the American parent, and a past employer, but then rejected when a test result showed he lacked mechanical aptitude.”

At the opposite extreme, says Macdougall, is the case of a general sales manager who was interviewed by an Ontario firm for a thirteen-thousand-dollar job. The company, not convinced he was the right man, had him undergo psychological tests. The results were highly favorable. Nevertheless, the company had the man tested by a second psychologist. Again the report was favorable. Still unconvinced, the company had the man take a third test, this time by psychological consultants from Chicago. The report remained favorable. The man was hired. A year later he was fired for incompetence.

Incompetent or not. this man not only knew how to beat the tests; he also knew something many men never learn: how and where to look for a high-paying job. Personnel managers say it’s startling how many otherwise intelligent and competent people have little or no idea how to lind good jobs in other companies when progress in their own company is blocked.

Many consider it useless to look for a better job in newspaper advertisements. They believe, apparently, that newspaper ads attract so many replies that no applicant has more than a very slim chance. Not so, say personnel men. One plant manager told me: “You can eliminate all but half a dozen applications out of every hundred within half an hour. It's amazing the number of people who apply for jobs and haven't any qualifications for them, can't spell, know no grammar and have no real hope of landing the job anyway.”

One man who can testify to the number of high-paid jobs advertised in newspapers is an engineer who once had a seven-thousand-dollar job in Canadian defense work. Driving through New York during an engineering convention, he picked up a copy of the New York Times and was astonished to see twenty-two pages of ads for men in his line of work. He went to a phone and started dialing. On his second call he landed a tenthousand-dollar job with a Philadelphia firm that makes electrical resistors.

Newspaper ads, however, do pose one

serious hazard for a man who wants to move on to a new job. There is a danger that the company advertising, identified only by a box number, will turn out to be his own firm. A job-seeker can avoid this by applying instead to a placement bureau, which will protect him from disclosing his identity until he is ready for an interview with his prospective new employer.

For a price, the placement bureau will also compose a résumé of a man's training and experience. One Toronto bureau will compile a résumé and re-

produce up to thirty-five copies of it for a fee of twenty-five dollars, for any man seeking a six-thousand-dollar job. If the job he wants pays six thousand to nine thousand, the fee is thirty-five dollars. For jobs worth ten thousand and up, it’s forty-five dollars.

Most placement bureaus are reputable firms; a few are not. Those that arc not can usually be detected quickly enough. They ask for a fee to get each applicant placed — the reputable ones don’t — and often insist on psychological testing and counseling for which they charge addi-

tional fees. (Ontario hopes to get rid of unethical placement bureaus soon. An act that became law last month empowers the labor department to license all bureaus, and the department is now drawing up a regulatory code.)

A few bureaus, like J. B. Fraser Executive Placement Consultants, of Montreal and Toronto (where I was told that "the best jobs never appear in newspaper ads”), take considerable pains to screen applicants. Others simply record a man’s name, experience and telephone number and tell him to wait until he hears from

them. And at least one placement bureau, Technical Service Council, in Toronto, which bird-dogs jobs for engineers, scientists and executives, is a non-profit organization supported by two hundred companies across Canada.

The Technical Service Council estimates that about a third of all people at an executive level, or those hoping to move up to that level, register with employment agencies when planning to change jobs.

Another non-profit source of job information is the executive and professional placement division of the National Employment Service. This may sound like an improbable place to look for an executive job. but the NES is by far the largest placement bureau in Canada, and its people often hear of upper-level jobs through inquiries about openings at lower levels. NES is also likely to know in what parts of the country men with particular qualifications are in demand.

A man shouldn't discount the possibility. either, of marching straight into the company he wants to work for and asking for a job. This isn’t likely to land him in the ten-thousand-dollar bracket, but here too he might be surprised. One personnel director told me: "If an especially promising man walks into my office and there’s no spot for him, there’s a good chance we'll try to make one."

Whatever source he seeks out in looking for a job. a man should know beforehand what the top price is for his services on the open market. Here again, say executives, many applicants have only a foggy idea of how much they’re worth. And salaries vary tremendously, even for jobs demanding similar talents and responsibilities. An engineer who set out looking for a job in Toronto recently might have landed any one of three jobs, each of which called for a man of thirtyfive to forty-five, of similar training and experience:

Flant superintendent, to supervise the work of three hundred employees. Assistant general manager of an American subsidiary in Canada, to help set up new plants and supervise market research. General manager of an Ontario firm marketing a new product, to begin on his own. later co-ordinating a small group of engineers.

Similar though they seem, the first job paid only $8,500 a year; the second carried a starting salary of fifteen to twenty thousand; the third a starting salary of nine thousand plus bonuses, climbing to twenty-six thousand within two years, with a later potential of fifty thousand.

Some people who accept lower salaries than they can command do so because of impatience rather than ignorance, according to Neil Macdougall of the Technical Service Council. On the average, it takes his staff three months to a year to find a man a ten-thousand-dollar job, but many men won’t wait that long. They settle for less.

When an offer comes up that looks

good, a wise applicant will discreetly investigate the company. He may even dig into the files of business newspapers to find the firm's financial record over the years and its rate of executive turnover. He will also find out something about the staff, since much of his success in the company will depend on his ability to become a member of "the team.”

Executive teams vary widely from one company to another, according to Dr. W. H. Cruickshank, a former practising psychiatrist who is vice-president and general manager of the Toronto area for Bell Telephone of Canada. He says nearly every company develops "an overall character,” One placement expert even claims: "I can spot a Dow Chemical man by his offbeat personality.”

"Let’s face it,” another consultant told me, “you are going to have a much easier time getting along with someone who thinks and behaves like you than with a man who, though he has equal ability, has interests remote from yours.”

His comment is especially true of the applicant’s potential boss, and many men who have sat through job interviews, paying little or no attention to what their potential bosses were like, have regretted this oversight later. Failure to find out what other people think of a potential boss can also be a serious mistake. In one extreme case, a junior executive in Toronto had a friendly chat with a potential employer, accepted the job and found everything going well at first. Then he discovered what he could have found out beforehand: the boss was a practising homosexual.

On the other hand, getting the right boss can be a major factor in a man’s reaching the ten-thousand-dollar level. At a management refresher course at the University of Western Ontario’s School of Business Administration, fifty senior executives, among them two corporation presidents, all rated this factor as important in their success. One member of the course typically described his boss this way:

“He had a complete knowledge of business, a searching and inquisitive mind, ability to draw out subordinates by questioning and correcting misconceptions and inaccuracies without emotionally upsetting me. I soon learned to be well prepared on any subject I went to speak to him about and kept myself completely informed on current conditions around the mill. Some sessions were sticky—but you always knew you were dealing with a gentleman equipped to discuss and direct the business.”

When a man’s landed the right job, at a good salary, with the right boss, what can he do to gain promotion?

“In considering a man for promotion,” says Cruickshank of Bell Telephone, "the quality I look for is a sense of responsibility over and above his particular job.” A man whose only strong incentive is money, Cruickshank adds, is seldom the man who gets the promotion. The job itself must be a challenge to him. "Look at Eddie Taylor — he works harder and for longer hours than most people l know. And it's not because he needs the money.”

Most other executives agree that, trite as it may sound, the man who catches the boss’s eye is the man who throws himself into his work with greater enthusiasm than his colleagues do.

What about the possibility of a jealous supervisor’s deliberately holding back an ambitious subordinate for fear of being showrt up in front of the top brass? This is a rare occurrence, says D. B. Riddell, assistant manager of Executive Selection Consultants, in Toronto. In all his ex-

perience in interviewing men registering for jobs in the middle and senior income brackets, he has encountered this complaint only a couple of times.

Executives also agree that education

—or lack of it—will often have less bearing on a man’s chances than many people imagine. Many big companies have men at the top who bypassed university on the way up; some have men at the executive level who never did acquire so much as a formal high-school graduation certificate — but who have educated

themselves in the hotly of knowledge

demanded by their particular business.

But the number of executives without university training or its equivalent is definitely declining, says Rhys Sale, president of Ford of Canada. "In considering men for promotion, other things being equal, we would select the person with the extra academic qualification. In hiring young people, we look upon academic standards as indicating potential.”

One way for a man to increase his chances, then, is to go hack to school. It takes money and willpower, but some men have done it with remarkable results. One Canadian executive says it was a dirty and exhausting job in an auto repair shop that drove him into university and put him on the path to his present job.

Chances for promotions also come through training courses in which many companies are now placing their potential executives. Many young men look upon such courses as a boring waste of time, but the fact is that they offer the ambitious man a chance to demonstrate his grasp of company problems to an extent that is often impossible in day-today routine. In informal group discussions a boss will often get a clearer idea than ever before of which of his men

is interested enough in the company as a whole to have delved into problems outside his own department.

Another thing a boss will usually watch for—at the training course and back in the office—is some sign that a man has the ability and courage to make decisions. Experts in business administration and management development say that a man who has all the textbook qualities for success but can't make decisions is like a poker player who always folds when the stakes get high. Says Bill Robinson, of Rohm & Haas Co. of Canada: “The man you want is the one who. if he has to. can make decisions without all the information at hand."

A man on the way up must also learn how to delegate authority. Rhys Sale notes that "the higher an executive goes, the less he is able to rely on his own particular technical skill or knowledge, and the more he relies on other people." It is therefore important to be a sound judge of other men's abilities for. as Sale points out, "the success of a lop executive is mainly dependent on his being

able to surround himself with highly competent associates."

That's the view from the top. Thousands of men. of course, will never enjoy that view. But they may be better off

than they realize. Professor John Morgan. of the University of Toronto's

School of Social Work, believes it is unfortunate that modern society tends to judge a man s worth by the amount of money he's paid. Not that he feels there's anything wrong with earning all the market will pay. hut. as he notes. "Now,

what does it really tell me when a man makes ten thousand a year? Only that someone is willing to pay him that much. Even if he is worth it, he may still he an undesirable individual." ir