Taking these steps now can mean greater success later.

There's an old saying: nothing worth having ever comes easy. That's true for most things in life, but it's especially true when it comes to your career – whether you're currently employed or searching for a job. No matter where you are in your life journey, you'll need to continually invest in your career if you want to achieve your long-term goals.

In this article, we'll explain what it means to invest in your career and why that investment matters. We'll also provide some top career investment techniques you can use to make sure that you have the skills, relationships, and experience you need to advance your career and achieve the success you deserve.

What does it mean to invest in your career?

Most job seekers understand that there are certain things they need to do to earn a living: finish school, maybe earn a college degree, and hopefully pick up a few marketable skills along the way. For most people, that simple strategy can be enough to land them a job that enables them to pay their bills. However, that strategy often isn't enough to build a sustainable and lucrative career.

To truly succeed in your career, you'll need to do more than just cover those basics. You'll also need to find ways to continuously invest in your career growth – learning new skills, building new relationships, and experiencing new obstacles and opportunities. That investment often requires either time or money. Sometimes, it requires both.

Regardless of the cost, this investment is essential for any professional who wants to see steady, sustainable career advancement in their chosen industry. By committing to that investment now, you can lay the foundation for future success in all your professional endeavors.

Related reading: Top 15 Professional Goals and How to Achieve Them

1.     Conduct a self-assessment

Have you ever conducted a self-assessment? What's your mission in life and your vision for career success? If you're like many people, chances are that you've allowed yourself to fall into a bit of a rut when it comes to your career trajectory. It's easy to do! The demands of life and work often distract us from our goals and cause us to lose sight of our broader career vision.

That's why one of the most important ways to invest in your career is to first identify where you're at in your journey. That knowledge is critical if you want to figure out the best way to invest in your career so you can get to where you want to be. By conducting a self-assessment, you can get back in touch with your strengths, identify weaknesses, and reduce stagnation that may be impeding your career growth.

Related reading: How Career Check-ups Can Help Determine if Your Career Path is Healthy

2.     Expand your skill set

To invest in your career, you'll also need to commit yourself to continuous learning. While you no doubt possess the skills needed to do your current job, that skill set may not be enough to fuel your career advancement. After all, the workplace is continually evolving as new technologies and business strategies reshape the business landscape. Savvy workers try to adapt to these changes so they can continue to provide value to current and future employers.

Related reading: Exploring AI and the Future of Work - A New Landscape

When you're ready to add new skills to your skill set, here are just a few of the many options you can use to acquire new competencies or improve your existing abilities:

  • Online courses and certifications

  • Continuing education

  • Webinars, podcasts, and other free online learning content

  • Upskilling and other workplace training

  • Collaborating with a mentor

  • Industry events, professional associations, and other networking outlets

  • Internships and volunteer opportunities

Related reading: Soft Skills Explained - and the Top 7 for Your Resume

3.     Develop your network

If you're not engaged in networking, chances are you're missing invaluable opportunities to invest in your career. Networking is about building relationships that have real value and significance. With the right network, you can make sure you have the industry contacts you need to advance your career at a steady pace.

Related reading: Relationship Building: How to Build Good Relationships at Work

So, how do you build your network? Start with getting active on LinkedIn. Engage with other professionals in your field through groups and by commenting on posts. Don't be afraid to send cold connection requests, either – just be sure to add a note introducing yourself and offering a brief reason for why you'd like to connect. And, of course, there are still old-fashioned networking events where you can meet professionals face-to-face and start up a conversation about your industry.

Once you've developed a large network, the job search process will become significantly easier. When you're ready to make your next career move, you can ask contacts to inform you about any openings that may be a fit for you. Some may even be willing to give you a reference.

Related reading: LinkedIn Networking: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections Online

4.     Build your online brand

Imagine that you've just returned from a networking event. You met someone there who could be game-changing for your career. They want to know more about you, so when they return home, they do a quick Google search of your name – and see nothing.

In this digital age, having an online presence is no longer optional. You need to ensure that when someone looks you up, they find a number of sites that present you in a positive, professional light. To achieve that goal, you need to pay careful attention to your online brand.

Start by building a compelling LinkedIn profile, complete with job details, links to your work, and a unique summary. Some professionals take it a step further by maintaining personal websites that showcase their personal brands. And of course, scrub your personal social media profiles of anything that could give the wrong impression to prospective contacts and employers.

Taking the time to build a positive online brand will guarantee that anyone who searches for your name will be impressed by what they find.

Related reading: Create a Personal Brand That Sets You Apart

5.     Invest in your career with a professional resume

No matter how qualified you might be for any given job, you still need a way to get your foot in the door and earn the employer's attention. And make no mistake; that can be a difficult thing to do if you don't have a truly compelling resume that inspires hiring managers to offer you an interview.

While many job seekers rely on formulaic template resumes, those generic job search tools will never be as effective as a professionally crafted resume. Unfortunately, if your resume looks like every other candidate's submission, you'll always have a hard time differentiating yourself from the crowd.

The good news is that you don't need to rely on luck to get noticed. Collaborating with resume experts can be one of the best ways to invest in your career. While these services do cost money, the results speak for themselves: employers are more likely to take notice of professionally written, targeted resumes that showcase a candidate's proven value as an employee!

Invest in your career – and reap the rewards!

If you know anything about agriculture, then you're probably aware that farmers sow seeds with the expectation that they'll eventually reap a bountiful harvest. That same fundamental principle of life applies to your career, too! If you don't plant the right seeds now, you may not be able to reap the harvest of success that you expect to receive.

The good news is that careful planning today can help you to provide for a better tomorrow. When you invest in your career using any or all of the strategies we revealed in this guide, you'll be sowing the ground for a continually successful career harvest that can last for many decades to come!

Are you ready to take your job search to the next level of success? Invest in your career today by getting your free resume review from our team of expert resume professionals. They'll help you make sure that your investment leads to more interviews and job offers than you ever thought possible.

This article was originally written by Lauren Settembrino. It has been updated by Ken Chase.

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