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Do you sometimes wonder if the work you’re putting in will ever lead to a promotion? Worse, do you sit at work wondering how long you can keep your job or when you can finally leave it for a better one? What’s difficult about being in these kinds of situations is that everything feels out of your control. You constantly wait for something to change and live in fear that one mistake could cost you that promotion or even your job.
Let’s be real. We all know that working really hard or doing our best sometimes just isn’t enough. Moreover, in this fast-paced economy, we have to accept that it takes so much more than an academic degree to truly succeed. So there’s always that question: What does it really take to secure my career and perhaps get a bigger paycheck? Lastly, what will it take for me to have that sense of security as I build my career?
The answer is actually quite simple. Securing your career and staying competitive is all about building your skills. In other words, acquire and develop assets that will make you a one-of-a-kind employee. Here are a couple of reasons why this is your key to success:
1. It’s a much quicker way to increase your market value.
Our market value is typically how much salary per month employers are willing to offer us. So, your salary now = your market value. Generally people wait for that big promotion to increase their monthly salary by 10% to 30% — 50% if you’re lucky! The downside is that it typically takes 3 to 5 years to get promoted. The even bigger downside is the impact of inflation in your salary.
Inflation is the rate at which prices of goods and services go up and right now it’s at 4.5%. That means a 30K paycheck now will have the purchasing power of just 28.6K after a year when 4.5% inflation has kicked in. So in theory, we should actually be increasing our salary by at least 4.5% per year.
Given these uncontrollable elements, why not try increasing your market value in just a few months through an online course? Or just a few days by attending a training? By adding soft and hard skills in your credentials, you may be given new responsibilities at work which can accelerate your promotion or earn you bonuses! With new skills, you can also try starting something on the side (like a part-time business!) and increase your total monthly income!
2. Learning things outside of work actually improves your performance at work.
Now you’re probably thinking, skill building is great but do I really have the time or energy for it? Often times we think additional learning will add to our exhaustion or bring our attention away from work.
Let’s break this down for you. You have to ask yourself whether all the overtime hours you’re putting in at work is the best method in getting ahead at work and in life. The problem about overtime is that it doesn’t substantially add points to your performance or adds money to your bank account.
Yes, maybe you’ll get plus points for being hardworking. However, promotions require a show of skill and if your boss sees that you’re putting in too many hours to get the outputs done, that doesn’t really scream that you’re ready for the next level. Additionally, if you want to start buying that condo or start a family soon, you’re going to need more than a promotion to hit your money goals.
Why not allot some of that overtime hours in acquiring entrepreneurial skills so you can start a business on the side? Or test some free internet tools that can help you finish your work faster?
To better illustrate, if you’re a sales officer struggling to meet targets, taking a course on new sales strategies may be more beneficial than putting in more hours. How do you actually go about building your skills?
Here’s an easy 5-step guide in doing so:
Step 1: Review your career path to determine which skills you need to acquire.
First, ask yourself: Would you like to stay in your industry or not?
If yes, identify your dream role in five years. What position in your department or sector are you aiming for? What do you need to have and what do you need to know to get there?
If it’s a no, you probably want to change industries or go full time on your own business. So you have to ask yourself which sector you want to go to or what kind of business you want to start. Then, figure out what kind of knowledge and skills that path will require.
Both paths will give you a very good idea of the skills you need to build to get to the next level of your career.
Step 2: Do a SWOT analysis of yourself to identify other soft and hard skills you need to develop.
This is the time to be truly honest with yourself and perhaps solicit some feedback from your boss and colleagues. Don’t be scared! Asking people for feedback is actually very noteworthy and they will appreciate your initiative to better yourself. If you think your boss or colleagues are too busy for this, simply send a quick email or maybe chat them up briefly over lunch.
Emails can be as simple as this:
Subject: Have two-minutes for feedback?
Email Body: Hi Joanne! I’m doing my annual professional improvement plan to see what soft and hard skills I need to acquire and improve on. As a valued colleague, your quick feedback on my strengths and weaknesses would be very helpful. What are the things you want me to keep up? What would you have me improve on? Happy to chat in person too. ????
After this, you can now create your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threat (SWOT) Analysis!
List down all the strengths and weaknesses you see in yourself. Include also those that your colleagues and boss shared with you.
Next, list down opportunities and threats. What you need to remember is that whatever goes in these categories are usually things out of your control.
Examples of opportunities would be:
- Immediate boss is retiring in 2 years, which opens up the position.
- There’s a new project coming in and they are picking leads within your department.
- 13th month pay / bonuses are coming in and you have money to spend on skill building.
Examples of threats would be the following:
- Company is downsizing and your department will be cut in half by year end.
- The busiest quarter is coming up and you might not have any spare time for the next 3 months.
After this exercise, you’re going to have a clearer picture which skill building activities you can benefit from the most and which ones to prioritize. In the process, remember to ask yourself how you can accelerate strengths, eliminate weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, and prepare for threats.
Step 3: Research ways and allot resources for skill building.
By now you should have a pretty good list of the skills you want to acquire and which one of those are your priorities. There are two quick ways to go about finding skill-building opportunities:
Option 1: Just go straight to Google and type in those keywords. Typically the most popular courses, trainings and workshops will come up.
Option 2: Referrals. This just means asking your network what they can recommend. Try posting on facebook or directly asking your colleagues and boss. The great thing about this method is you can vet the quality better because you’ll have firsthand reviews from people who have actually experienced it.
After researching, you will now have an idea how much your target skill-building activities will cost, and you can either afford it or not have the money for it. If you can afford it immediately, fantastic! Organize your schedule and sign up as soon as possible. If you’re short on cash, make a savings plan for it. Perhaps it’s time to cut back on Starbucks and shopping for a few months?
Step 4: Just do it.
Usually at the last minute we always have the most doubts. The trick is to not overthink it and remember that there’s no such thing as a perfect experience. Also, its important to realize that same actions = same results. So if you really want to elevate your career (and bank account), it’s important to go out of your comfort zone and try new things.
Step 5: Apply yourself and watch new opportunities unfold!
When you’re finally done with that training, workshop, or course, don’t forget to apply it at work, or in your new business, and in life! Your colleagues will look up to you for the new perspectives you have to share at work.
You’ll get new and exciting offers at Linkedin when you add that new skill set in your profile. That business you’ve been dreaming of will finally materialize. The best part— you’ll feel more confident, in control, and more excited for the future!
Looking to improve your market value? Our program, The Next Step, in partnership with JCI Makati, and the Philippine Association of Professional Speakers, will surely put the spring in your next step! Cross out your calendars! This event is on Thursday, April 26, 2018! You can sign up here!
Or maybe you’re planning to explore new skills through an online course? Learn Finance, Marketing, Sales, or How to Start Your Own Business through our online KICK Program! Our intro class will launch on Thursday, April 26, 2018! Interested? Sign up now!