Aside from what you may know about how it contributes to running a business, your human capital is your ability to earn (or command) an income. It includes your skill set, expertise, education and ability to connect or interact with others. In financial terms, your human capital is the present value of all your future wages. It matters most for GenYers because of the value it will continue to provide over the next 20-40 years (i.e. funding your lifestyle, allowing you to save for current and future goals). Thus, increasing your human capital gives you the ability to increase your net worth.
Below are some strategies to reflect on and items to consider when it comes to investing in your ability to earn an income:
What skills or certifications could you acquire to enhance your value or diversify your experience? Are there conferences, events, or trainings that you could attend? When it comes to your education, subscribing to the lifelong learning model has never hurt anyone. Via what avenues can you continue to pursue knowledge? You don’t necessarily have to stay within the barriers of your company. Look to related industries and fields. For example, many insurance brokers, financial planners, accountants and estate planning attorneys attend the same networking events or conferences to gain exposure to new ideas and developments. Some of the most creative and refreshing ideas can come when you’re exposed to how other industries or businesses are doing things.
Industry Trends and Developments
What is the latest news in your company and industry? Are you aware of trends, revenue sources, and the overall market for your company or product? Do you know who your company’s competitors are? Stay current by reading industry publications and understanding imminent changes or advances in technology or product design that are contributing to the company bottom line. Be a resource.
How can you make yourself indispensable to your employer or to your clients? GenY has a reputation for being tech savvy. As cliché as it may sound for our generation now, take advantage of the fact that you catch on to technology trends quickly. Could your company use a social media refresh (or rollout?). Could you volunteer to review the latest software products or CRMs that are meant to streamline your business and report back to the company on which make sense? If you own your own company, consider the ways you can provide indispensable value to your clients (without making yourself available 24/7). What are the small things that matter?
It’s not always about who you know, but when it comes to building your human capital, it could help to have a solid relationship with key members in your company or community. Who are you connected to professionally? Have you taken the time to invest in those relationships? Should you establish new ones? Professional relationships aren’t built overnight. They take time and commitment. If you’re looking to connect with someone, ask questions about them and practice active listening. If you’re seeking out input on a question, issue or project, be appreciative and respectful of the time and thought being contributed.
If you were fired today, would you look for a similar position or make an industry or career change? Are you on the path to your dream job? Happiness is a factor when it comes to your human capital as you are more likely to do each of the above if you are in a job that you enjoy. Doing the research, continuing to learn, building relationships, and being indispensable are easier to pursue when you’re following your goals. If you’re not currently in a position or industry that you enjoy, take some time to reflect upon where you’d like to be. Strategize for steps you could take that would get you there and begin to develop a plan to implement.