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How to get paid when you work for Goldman Sachs

Is your bonus going to be more of a drip than a deluge?

It happens at the best of banks: you work all year and think you're gonna get paid but round about now - as we go into the fourth quarter, things start to come unstuck.

You know the signs.

Maybe she's avoiding you. You know who - the one who will fight your corner in the bonus meetings. She's not speaking to you: it's like you're invisible.

Trust me: I've seen this happening first hand to a friend at Goldman Sachs, and if it's happening to you too it means you are probably going to get a donut. In the case of my friend, the boss simply started treating him as if he wasn't there. And then behold, when he looked at his bonus pot in the New Year, it was empty.

It's a bad sign too if you're not being asked to important meetings. Meetings you used to go to. If this is you, your pot will not be full. Meeting exclusions can start in August. Fight back: get in that room now.

Or, what if you have literally no idea what you're going to get in a few months' time? If this is you too, then that's bad. By now you should know what you're going to get: you should have an idea of the P&L of your desk and division and you should understand how you fit into that. If you don't, you may get taken advantage of.  If you don't have a clue, get one.

So what can you do if you're seeing these signs?

The answer is, you can take back control. When you work in a bank, it's no good playing the bonus lottery: waiting to see if you get the lucky ball. You need to handle this properly. Why work all year just to roll the dice?

If you want to maximize your bonus you need to start getting noticed and stop being invisible. Find a way to stand out, start a project, get a trade done. Even better get a client to say something nice about you. Anything to stand out.

You also need to ask the question. Ok, so don't ask straight up about your bonus, but ask the senior people in your team how, 'you're doing.' What can you do to improve? Be casual, but get the feedback. Feedback is critical.

While you're busy with this, figure out who the key stakeholders are. There are a bunch of people responsible for getting you paid. These are the people who need to get in front of.

I was an MD at Goldman Sachs. While I was working for the firm in 2010 I started putting together a report card for myself. It was a beautiful thing: a single piece of paper with all my key accomplishments for the year.

I made sure I knew who my stakeholders were and I made sure they had it. That one piece of paper was worth thousands because it crystallized months of work and made everything clear.

It worked for me. It should work for you too - unless, of course, you're happy to get a donut at bonus time. The choice is yours.

The author is a former Goldman Sachs managing director and one of several bloggers at the site What I Learnt on Wall Street.

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