Invest in Your Career as Well as Your Portfolio
When it comes to financial planning, we generally focus on spending, saving, and investing money, and place less emphasis on career planning. While it’s essential to properly manage the money you have saved and invested, you also need to capitalize on opportunities to enhance your earning capabilities. Over time, investing in yourself and your career can have a significant positive impact on your net worth.
Start by reflecting on who you are; identify your strengths, your areas of expertise and what you enjoy doing. Identify your primary career goals; develop a personal vision statement and a personal strategic plan to help reach these goals. Too often we leave the direction and progress of our career to chance rather than following a carefully laid out plan. We often become comfortable and complacent in our current position, and miss opportunities to progress in our career and maximize our earnings.
The process of investing in yourself and your career is an on-going endeavor regardless of your short term plans. Everything you do, your relationships, behavior, and appearance all affect the success of your career. I was reminded of this by a friend who once told me to think of myself as Jane Young, Inc. We all have our own unique brand that needs to be developed, enhanced and reinforced. Everything you wear, say, or do creates a perception on how a potential boss or client may view you. You need to build a brand and project an image that helps you reach your career goals.
It is also essential to nurture and grow your professional network. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to neglect your professional network when you feel secure in a long held job. As a result, your contacts may not think of you or may not be aware of your current qualifications when opportunities arise. Additionally, if you unexpectedly lose your job you don’t have a solid network to tap into for help in finding a new job.
In addition to maintaining a strong professional network, it is crucial to stay abreast of innovations and changes in your career field. Things are changing so fast that it is essential to learn new technologies and skills for your current job, as well as positions you would like to move into in the future. You should also be taking steps to get additional education, certifications, and skills needed to meet your long term career goals.
Finally, take a proactive role in advancing your career. You need to communicate your goals, needs, and expectations to your boss in a professional and productive manner. Ask what is required to get a raise or a promotion, this helps establish a mutual understanding. Be sure to consider the political dynamics within your company, and communicate your needs in a manner that illustrates the value you can provide to your boss and the firm.