Last month I outlined five areas regarding your career including how you can convert it to financial assets, protect it with insurance, borrow on it, enjoy it and grow it by investing in yourself. This month, I’d like to focus on the three habits for growing your career asset which is the engine for the rest of your financial success.

Historically, people worked for the same employer for decades and relied on their managers to guide them with career decisions. These arrangements are increasingly rare which shifts the burden and opportunity to each of us individually. Most people are ill-equipped for this responsibility, which is unfortunate because the consequences of a misaligned career are significant.

What can you do to enhance the value of your career? Start with taking responsibility for managing your career like you do other financial assets. While there are people available to assist, it’s your responsibility for seeking out this guidance. There are three additional habits you can use to optimize your career including benchmarking your compensation, increasing your skills through training or other professional development, and networking with peers.

Benchmarking your career simply means determining the value of your skills or job within your industry. Websites such as www.salary.com or www.payscale.com can provide an estimate of what you should be earning. Other factors to consider include your past experience, location and level of education.

Speaking of education, it’s not just formal degrees that matter when it comes to excelling at your job. Other opportunities for professional development such as certifications or conferences are crucial to staying current. Older workers start to lose their value to employers not because of their past experience (which is actually very valuable) but because they neglect to stay abreast of changes in their fields.

Attending conferences or other training events also helps with the third habit of networking with peers. Too often we see people waiting until they’re in a job transition to begin reaching out for other job opportunities. The best time to develop relationships is when you’re securely in your current position as relationships take time to build.download

Another helpful resource for networking is www.LinkedIn.com, which allows you to stay connected with a wide variety of contacts. Look at networking opportunities both within your current company and externally in your industry to develop the most robust connections.

Each of these strategies is outlined in further detail in my colleague, Mike Haubrich’s book “Career Asset Management.” Haubrich also provides an overview of the appropriate mindset to have when viewing your career as the engine of financial success.

As published in the Racine Journal Times | March 2, 2016

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