One of the driving forces in saving more for your future is to earn more money. The best way to earn more is to ensure you are on the right path with your earning potential in your career. There are many ways you can make sure that you are earning the highest amount you can in your field. It is up to you to put yourself on the career trajectory you aspire to.
Make a LinkedIn profile or create a Twitter account if you don’t have one. I would say that LinkedIn is one of the biggest resources for developing a great career network. Additionally, be careful about what you post on any social media platform, including Facebook and Instagram, because in a world of technology, potential employers often search for you online before an interview or job offer.
Besides being careful about what you post on social media, here are my best tips:
- Increase your LinkedIn network. The more people in your network, the better opportunity you will have of finding a new job, whether you are searching for one or not. Recruiters and people you know will reach out to you when they can easily find you amongst your peers.
- Find all the top influencers in your field and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
- If you comment on a post, think twice and make sure it’s well thought out and not negative or controversial.
Learn, Learn, Learn
Personally, I love to learn new things. I like knowing what going on in the world, locally, and in the economy. I jump online every day to update myself on the latest news stories. I feel knowing the latest news not only increases your knowledge base, but if you are networking with others, you can easily discuss relevant news topics. And if you are looking to push your career forward, you are always networking.
Here are a few tips to jump start learning every day:
- Set up Google alerts for news on a company, industry or topics you want to learn more about.
- Take a free online course in your field.
- Listen to a podcast or TedTalk. Once you find one that you like, subscribe to it.
- Read an e-book from one of the influences in your field.
What’s Out There
Set up job alert notifications from your favorite job boards. You can use sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Monster. Additionally, if you are actively looking for a new position, let your professional network know. You can call, email, text, or instant message people you know. Contact people you know through email, social media, or even a good old phone call and let them know you’re looking around for new opportunities; it will increase your chance of finding a new position because there are a lot of positions available that are never posted.
Additionally, update your resume and cover letter in case you find a position your interested in. You can also put together a portfolio that includes all of your accomplishments, achievements, skills, and requirements for your next position. When you have these things on hand, it makes it easy to know if a job sounds like a good fit for you and apply immediately if you’re interested.
Increasing your network in your career improves your chances of finding the right opportunity. There are many different ways to increase your network, and if you are an introvert (like me), it can be harder, but you still need to put yourself out there and meet people. Here are a few of the ways I’ve found to help meet more people:
- Find conferences, conventions, trade shows, or seminars in your area.
- Sign up for free networking mixers. I’ve found that meetup.com is a great resource for finding groups to network with.
- LinkedIn also has groups you can join, but they are often centered around networking on social media rather than face-to-face.
- Reach out to old colleagues and managers for recommendations to have on hand.
People that are looking to hire for a new position often reach out to people in their immediate network first. If you are there meeting people and keeping your social channels open, you may be the first person they think of for a new opportunity they have available. It pays (literally) to put yourself out there and be social.
My Experience – Increase Earnings by Changing Jobs
The jobs we have today are not the ones from our grandparents or parents days when they stayed at one company for their entire careers. Gone are the days of job security. I started job hopping when I was still in high school and rarely stopped until I actually found a job/company that I loved and stayed put for awhile. I remember my first job when I was 16 working at Drug Emporium in Edmonds, Washington. I made $4.25/hour. Woo hoo! I managed to get some small raises, and left the job about 9 months later when I was making $4.75/hour to go work at Burlington Coat Factory for $5.75/hour – that was a 20%+ rate increase and I was also able to get more hours.
Working in retail is brutal, no matter if you’re in the front dealing with customers or in the back with the product. Dealing with customers was exhausting mentally, and working the product was exhausting physically. But, hey, I was making my own money.
The next job I went to was not a pay increase, but it was working for a CPA firm during my senior year in high school. I was an unpaid intern first, and then they asked me to work part-time with them for the same rate I was getting at Burlington Coat Factory. Since it was a job in an area I found highly interesting and believed was my future career path, I jumped at the chance. I actually ended up working there throughout my college years until I graduated. I think my last year there I was making about $9/hour. Although the pay was low, the experience I gained was invaluable.
As a side note: Having a job in high school and college helped me learn to budget and save early. I was making my own money, and even though I was living with my parents, I still had to pay for college, my car, food, and all the extras like clothes, books, and personal care junk. Thankfully, I didn’t have any housing costs to pay for (thank you mom and dad) and a lot of my college was paid for using the many, many scholarships I applied. I would encourage parents to have their kids start working in high school and college, as it really helps you excel in your career and financial future early.
During my senior year of college, I was able to utilize the University of Washington’s career resource center where they did on campus recruiting. Employers would come on campus to interview graduating students that would come to work for them the next year. I was probably one of the most pro-active seniors there was working on my resume and interviewing skills, buying a few interview suits (with high heels and pantyhose), while also studying and working. I wanted to ensure myself a job after graduating. My first job out of college was with KPMG making $32,000 a year. If you compared that to the hourly rate I was getting at the small CPA firm of $9/hour, it was an increase of about 70% plus all the benefits that come with a full time gig (vacation time, sick time, medical/dental insurance).
Less than a year after I started my first full-time job out of college, I moved to Arizona and immediately got a job at another CPA firm, increasing my salary more than 10%. I worked there for another year and a half with a salary bump of about 12% during my performance reviews. (Public accounting firms are known for giving higher pay increases than normal due to the amount of hours they make the staff work during busy season.)
Once you get into the workforce and have some experience under your belt, you start to get calls from recruiters with job opportunities they want to tell you about. I think they time them to call accounting professional right after busy season when burnout runs rampant. Well, I heard about a great opportunity to work in internal audit for a local Fortune 500 company. It sounded amazing – 10-20% travel, very little overtime, and a nice 20% bump in salary. Now I was even making more than my (ex)husband even though he had 2 years more experience than me.
There are also other things you can do to help boost your earnings potential in your career, including acquiring new skills, create your own business, and help others make money. This includes leveraging the benefits available at the company you work for. I was able to get my MBA from Arizona State University while working at this company, and they also paid for almost 100% of it. Once I was about a month away from graduating, I started looking for another job where I could leverage my experience, education, and skills, while also increasing my salary.
Through recruiters and my network, I managed to land a job that paid about 15% more (salary and bonus) and was also a step up to Director. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the company that much, so I was only there about a year, but accounting and finance jobs are abundant, so I job hopped a few more times, increasing my salary each time.
While I think that a good salary is an important part of finding the right job, I also believe that you need to find a company that you enjoy working it. The culture, work-life balance, and social aspect of a job can have a huge impact on your stress and happiness. The last company I worked for ended up being a significant decrease in my salary, but the work-life balance and culture of the company far exceeded any other place I worked and my happiness level skyrocketed. I was happy there, and that is what truly mattered to me.
Just Do It – Learn, Network, Find Your Career Path
It takes time to find a job that’s a perfect fit for you. It took me many years of job hopping, networking, learning, and improving my skills to find a position I really enjoyed. You can’t rely on anyone else when it comes to career, but having help from others is essential. When your career is on the right track, your financial future becomes more secure and you will find success in your professional and personal goals.