Business owners, investors and entrepreneurs will parrot this saying until the end of time: "You have to spend money to make money." Counterintuitive, perhaps, when it first hits the ears, but it is one of the few steadfast truisms of commerce when done right. Businesses aren't the only beneficiaries of this stream of logic. Individuals have countless options to strategically allocate their spending to see impressive returns. And no, we're not talking about stock options
We're talking about you, yourself and your skills. You are, after all, your most valuable asset. Invest correctly in yourself and you'll experience the most sustainable, risk-free gain of any expense you've ever incurred.
With the rapidly changing economy, marked by the demise and advent of industry-defining technologies, the best way to stay afloat is to turn with the tide — adapt to the innovations in your sector and remain relevant to the modern labor force
Americans used to graduate from college and rely on one degree to carry them through a lifetime of employment at a single company. Now, the average person stays in a job for 4.4 years, and the demands of the workplace have an incessant way of shifting to reward the most cutting-edge skill sets. In 1960, 60 percent of jobs were classified as "unskilled", meaning they did not require a degree or technical training. In 2018, Harvard University predicts that 57 percent of all American jobs will require technical skills training or certification, while 33 percent will require a bachelor's degree or more, and only 10 percent will be classified as unskilled.
If you're stuck in a job, or out of one, and looking to compete or advance in the job market, here are some ways to go about investing in yourself, your skills and your marketability.
Think you're stuck? It might be the case of a self-imposed glass ceiling. Even if you don't see a promotion on the horizon, there are ways to advance yourself if you make learning a priority. Get a good picture of what your role brings to the table and how you personally impact your company's bottom line.
Whether it's time or money, make a small investment to improve your expertise. Shadow someone at work through a process that you think would be a good addition to your skill set. If you work in an operations-heavy business, pitch a renovation that will wow your bosses and get certified in Lean Six Sigma to make a major overhaul of your organization and remove inefficiencies. Go for a Project Management Professional certification and show your company, or future employers, that you have the knowledge and expertise to succeed as a project leader — a proven pathway to a higher salary. Whichever industry you're in, there is a credential you can pursue, often in a short-form program, that will bolster your value at work.
2. Be an opportunist
If you're in search of a job and fairly flexible about the work you'd like to do, seek out gaps in the employment landscape. Electricians, contractors and roofers are making a killing by transitioning into the solar industry, which is among the fastest growing job markets in the nation. A short-term vocational training course in solar energy is an affordable way to land yourself in the sweet spot of a booming industry.
3. Pursue your interests
It may sound obvious, but if you can find the cross-section of your skills, talents and opportunities, your progression will be a natural one. You'd be surprised how many people sacrifice themselves to the idea of financial gain by pursuing careers that make them miserable. Find a tangent to your strengths and interests that yields the greatest opportunity.
Many people interested in design, for instance, are taking advantage of the boom in green building by attaining a LEED credential. Those with interests in construction or contracting are leading the movement in energy efficiency by becoming residential energy auditors. Mechanics are preparing for the future of vehicular technology with courses in hybrid auto maintenance or electric vehicle charging station training. Find a way to incorporate your interests into a future-oriented career, and your growth will convert from a challenge into a source of pride and pleasure.