For most people, one of the fastest ways to increase your savings and acquire more wealth is to increase your earning potential in your career. That’s why developing a ‘career portfolio’ is essential to progress in your career with ease.
There are three main categories to creating a stellar career portfolio: Relationships, Skills, and Emotional Intelligence. I’ll explore each of these areas, so you can incorporate them into your own career, and provide examples of what worked and didn’t work in my own career or for people I’ve worked with.
Find a Career You’re Passionate About
Before I even started building my portfolio, I was lucky enough to find an area in business that I was extremely passionate about – Accounting. Okay, I know probably 99% of people out there are thinking that is the most boring job/career out there. However, for me, I found everything about it fun. I liked dealing with money, and learning about how things worked, and fortunately, learning the mechanics of accounting came very easy for me. When you find a career you are passionate about and love doing, managing your career becomes so much easier.
Relationships Are Critical
The first building block in your career has to be relationships. Even if you are early in your career, you’ve probably heard the comment, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and those words are golden when it comes to building and maintaining your career. Being an introvert, and as much as I hate it, I know that networking is critical. You need to build relationships. You have to put yourself out there, you have to make a good impression, and you have to be able to show people that you deserve every opportunity that comes your way.
Network! So, who do you network with? Everyone. Yes, seriously, everyone. You never know who knows who. Although I work in accounting and finance, it’s important to not only get to know people in my field, but also people in Sales, Marketing, Operations, as well as anyone else I come in contact with.
For example, a new position is posted that is more pay and responsibility than where you currently are. You know you can do the job, but your experience doesn’t necessarily qualify you for it. However, what if you know someone on that team that can get your resume in front of the hiring manager, and recommend you as someone they know. That connection gives you a leg up from everyone else that has applied. Relationships can become the backbone of your career portfolio.
In my experience, as I progressed in my career, I noticed it was the people that had the relationships that would get the best projects at work, and therefore be considered for promotions, raises, and bonuses. My advice (especially for introverts) for building good relationships:
- Be genuine. No one likes a phony and most people can see right through the brown nosers. If you aren’t genuine in your relationships, more often than not, your efforts will backfire.
- Be kind. Say hello, smile, and remember your etiquette. I feel that it’s important to recognize everyone you see and at least smile, even at strangers. Make sure you say please and thank you. Don’t you feel better when someone says hi, smiles, requests something with a please, and appreciates what you do with a thank you?
- Respect others. You need to be considerate of other people to create authentic relationships. Treat others how you would want to be treated; put yourself in their shoes before you put your foot in your mouth.
Skills Are Necessary
Building your basket of skills is a mix of your natural abilities, education, and experience. I was naturally good at math, and then when I took an accounting class in high school, I found it was extremely easy for me, while I noticed other people struggle. That was when I knew what I wanted to do – business, accounting, finance – sign me up! I was lucky that my high school offered an accounting class, and even luckier that I found out how much I enjoyed it. I realize other people spend years of their life trying to find out where their skills and passion lie, but once you find that perfect mix, you have the ability to build your skills so much easier and quicker.
How do you find something your good at? Try different things, whether it’s sports, art, writing, business, science, technology, or mechanics. Obviously some skills are better suited to higher earning potential, but if you have the drive, you will find the ability to make more money. The best things about skills are that they can be learned. Keep learning every day and your future self will thank you for it!
Best Skills for Career Success
- Problem Solving – creative analysis for finding solutions
- Communication – written and verbal
- Teamwork – working well with others and ability to build relationships
- Technical – computer programming, mathematics, bookkeeping, mechanical, cooking
Your ability to learn new skills quickly can give you a huge advantage. As you add new skills to your career portfolio, you increase your future earning potential. You can always learn something new every day no matter how old you are!
Emotional Intelligence Helps You Grow
Every leader will tell you there is a big difference between IQ and EQ and you need them both to be successful in whatever you do. IQ (Intelligence Quotient) provides you a step up in your skills – you tend to be skilled in the things you know more about. However, a high IQ and a basket of skills will not make you successful if you do not have the EQ to go with them.
Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) = the capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
There are plenty of leaders that believe emotional intelligence it too touchy-feely to warrant being a good leadership quality. I beg to differ. The leaders that I’ve looked up to the most, and have truly seen the most success in their career have cared about the people they are leading. The key traits of an emotionally intelligent leader include empathy, self-awareness, and social skills.
“Emotional intelligence—the ability to, for instance, understand your effect on others and manage yourself accordingly—accounts for nearly 90 percent of what moves people up the ladder when IQ and technical skills are roughly similar.” ~Harvard Business Review
Your Career Progression, Your Choice
The great thing about our country is that you always have the freedom to choose what you want to pursue in life. The things you need in your Career Portfolio are not only great for climbing the corporate ladder, but also great for anything else you want to do in life. Building your relationships, learning new skills, and increasing your emotional intelligence create a career portfolio that benefits you in all your future endeavors. Start building today and you will never stop!