Supercharge Your Career for Long Term Financial Security

office pictures may 2012 002Proactively managing your career is essential to your long term financial success.  While traditional financial planning is important, it’s crucial to invest in yourself and your career.  The return you can earn from a serious commitment to your career may be better than any investment return you may reasonably achieve.  Strategic attention to your career can result in increased long term income opportunities, a job you love, job security and resources to build your investment portfolio.

It’s too easy to become comfortable and complacent with your situation and settle for less compensation and job satisfaction than you deserve.   The first step toward supercharging your career is to understand yourself.  Evaluate what makes you happy and where your passions and talents lie. Consider how you can best utilize your skills, interests, and experience. Research potential opportunities in your current field as well as in new career fields.  Information about a variety of careers,and what they pay, is available in the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook www.bls.gov.ooh.  Information on salaries can also be found on www.payscale.com and www.salary.com.

After doing your research and identifying some career opportunities, decide on your definition of career success and develop a plan to achieve this.   Career success is not based on luck but on strategic planning, action and commitment.  Establish some long and short term career goals to keep you on track toward meeting your plan.

To help achieve success, think of yourself as a brand of one.  In everything you do, consider your image and how people perceive you.  You have a reputation to build and maintain which should demonstrate trust, dependability, competency, enthusiasm and professionalism.  Don’t think of yourself as an employee but as a company of one who is working to bring success to your current firm.  This in turn will bring you success.  Be reliable and meet your commitments, proactively resolve problems and look for smarter ways to do business.  Do what is needed to get the job done, don’t lose site of the big picture, and focus on the bottom line.  Work strategically and watch for opportunities to meet the needs of your boss and your team.

Nurture relationships, be a team player, and keep a positive attitude.  Continually demonstrate how you can be of value to your boss, colleagues and clients.  Work in a collaborative manner and help others look good and get ahead.  Develop a strong personal network and find a mentor to assist you with your current job and exciting options for the future.

Proactively stay abreast of industry and technological changes. Seek out opportunities to learn and grow through continuing education and formal education.  You will experience more success if you embrace change and innovation.

Your career and ability to earn a good living can be your greatest financial asset – manage and nurture it to maximize your financial security.

Invest in Your Career as Well as Your Portfolio

 

Jane Young, CFP, EA

Jane Young, CFP, EA

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.