In recent posts, I’ve written about how you can track your net worth, and what your net worth should look like in your 30s and 40s. It’s true that tracking your financial net worth can be hugely helpful when it comes to seeing big-picture goals, progress, and habits. However, your net worth statement is missing one major piece of the puzzle – you.
That’s right. Your growth as an individual can impact your net worth over time.
One of the biggest parts of your growth as a person that has a direct impact on your finances is your career growth. Over the course of your career, take advantage of new opportunities, expand your area of expertise, and make valuable connections with mentors and colleagues. The more you do these things, the more you’re able to “level up” your earning potential.
Having a Career-Growth Mentality
When you think of career growth, you might be thinking of the obvious:
- Salary increase
- Increased responsibility in your job role
The truth is that the “usual” modes of career growth can feel out of reach sometimes. After all, how often do promotions or raises come around? Sometimes employees can only expect to have big, defining conversations about their career advancement once a year (or less!). This can be the case even if you work at a forward-thinking company, or are in a higher-up management position.
If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense to wait for your annual review to focus on how you can advance in your career. How many other areas of personal growth in your life thrive when you only check in on them once a year? Probably not very many! That’s because growth takes time and continuous commitment. Your career is no different!
Growing in your current role, or finding ways to move forward in your organization, should be an ongoing practice – not an annual “to do” that you check off the list. Once you start embracing this new career-growth mentality, you’ll start to see other opportunities to grow your career outside of a traditional annual review or merit bonus season.
High-Impact Career Growth Moves
Career growth doesn’t just happen when you get a raise, a bonus, or a promotion (although all of those events will bump your earning potential, too). As much as getting a pay increase or a promotion is somewhat under your control, you can’t always dictate exactly when it happens.
There are more factors that go into corporate decisions than whether or not you’re a rockstar at what you do. Instead of waiting for those events to happen, it can be helpful to focus on smaller career growth moves that you can control – and that still have a high impact on your net worth and earning potential.
These high-impact career moves can be viewed as ways to increase your “human capital.” Your human capital is the financial worth of skills, knowledge, and experience you have – and it makes a huge difference in how much your net worth grows, and at what pace, over the course of your life. Let’s talk about a few ways that you can start to increase your human capital, grow your career, and boost your net worth.
#1: Focus on Education
There’s never a wrong time to continue your education. You might want to go back to school to earn your Master’s or Ph.D. to advance your career. However, there are other ways that you can continue your education that don’t involve re-enrolling in college – which can be time-consuming and expensive. You could:
- Sign up for an online course covering a topic you’re interested in – like social media marketing, how to use industry-specific software or ways to improve your leadership skills in the workplace.
- Ask your employer about continuing education opportunities within your organization. You might be surprised by internal programs that are available to you.
- Start studying for a designation exam that could increase your expertise.
Continuing your education, and showcasing what you’ve learned in your current role, can signal to your employer that you’re willing to learn and grow. In the short-term, this might put you in the spotlight for upcoming opportunities or promotions. In the long-term, you’re building out an education background that can help catapult you into a dream job, or a higher-paying position at your current (or a different) company.
#2: Read Everything
As a busy mom, entrepreneur, wife, and business partner, I know what it feels like to be short on time. Still, you can increase your human capital in just 20-30 minutes a day. Want to know how?
Pick up a book. Read an article from a trade publication. Click on that LinkedIn blog post written by the CEO of your company about market trends.
There is so much content available for us to consume each day, it can be kind of overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean you have to get sucked into the black hole of celebrity gossip articles that land in your inbox. Every minute you have is precious, so use some of them to improve yourself, and increase your earning potential later on. You never know when a specific chapter in a business book or an article in an industry-specific magazine will change the way you work for the better.
#3: Create Your Own Opportunities
Whether you work for a big, Fortune 500 company, or a small start-up, you might feel a little bit “stuck” in your current role. It’s tough to focus on career growth, or increasing your human capital when it doesn’t feel like there is anything you can do right now.
The best thing you can do is to stop waiting for your employer to create an opportunity for growth. Instead, create your own opportunities. A few examples of bite-sized opportunities you can create for yourself might be:
- Asking to cross-train with an adjacent department to learn a new skill set
- Offering to let new hires job shadow you to hone your leadership and management skills
- Spearheading a Diversity & Inclusion Committee in your organization
- Volunteering to sit on an advisory board for another local business to gain new insight
When you’re thinking about creating a career opportunity for yourself, think about the long term impact it will have on your human capital. Even small steps forward have the potential to accelerate your growth in new ways that open you up to new earning opportunities.
#4: Do Your Research
If you are going into an annual review, or a conversation about your future career path, it can pay to do your research. This is a small career move to make, but it can have a high impact on your future net worth or earning potential. A few key things to know are:
- What responsibilities you own, and how your work is received
- Where your weak spots are, and how you can improve them
- How much colleagues who have similar responsibilities make
- How much your role or position would earn at other organizations in your industry
- Whether there are other industries that pay more for your skillset
- What type of benefits or non-salary rewards would have the biggest impact on your financial life (think: childcare stipends, better health insurance coverage at lower premiums, free continuing education, assistance with student loan debt payoff)
When you walk into these bigger conversations equipped with research and a clear idea of what you’re worth, what you need in order to advance, or how your organization can continue to reward your hard work outside of a pay increase – you’re setting yourself up for success. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to grow your career and your net worth in the future.
Human Capital, Career Growth, and Your Finances
When it comes to your financial plan, never underestimate the value you bring to the table simply by being you. As you focus on increasing your human capital, and taking steps to grow your career, you’ll inevitably add to your net worth over time. Remember – even small steps toward growth can make a huge impact down the road!
Want help creating a strategy to grow your career (and your wealth)? Struggling to think of ways you can “level up” and start earning more? Reach out! I’d love to see if our team would be a good fit to help you create a comprehensive financial strategy.