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5 Ways to Improve Your Professional Value in 6 Weeks or Fewer

If you want to maximize your long-term income potential, the best way to do it is to invest in yourself. That means developing new skills, refining your existing skillsets and talents, educating yourself, and of course, gaining new experience. These personal and professional developments will help you to expand your resume, impress the right people, and eventually settle into better jobs with higher-paying salaries. Just as upgrading a home bit by bit can improve its market value, your career value can improve with these additions.

There's just one problem stopping most people from doing it.

The Investment Factor

The main obstacle that most people face is one of investment, as developing new skills typically demands both time and money. Take a college program as a perfect example: yes, it'll give you a new degree to list on your resume, but it'll also take years of study and thousands of dollars to achieve it. For most of us in the early to middle stages of our careers, our time is occupied with our current jobs, and we're not exactly overflowing with money.

A Better Way

You don't need to spend years or thousands of dollars adding to your skills when there are so many free (or nearly free), fast-paced options to round out your abilities. Take these options as examples:

  1. Take a free online course. There are dozens of online organizations dedicated to providing free education to anyone with an Internet connection. Coursera is a perfect example: you can take college-level courses in almost anything you can think of, from academic subjects like history or psychology to more trade-oriented programs like coding or business management. Signing up is generally simple, and most courses only last a few weeks. There are also some inexpensive paid options, and if you'd prefer an even less intensive means of study, there are some fantastic YouTube channels dedicated to providing information and new skills to professionals.
    • Sign up for a professional development program. There are tons of programs specifically intended to improve or teach a professional skill, from HGV training for handling specific types of equipment to AdWords certification for online advertising. These are useful because you'll often end up with a formal certification in whatever skill or ability that you're trying to acquire, making you more attractive to prospective employers (or current employers during year-end reviews). Plus, in many cases, if you ask your bosses about the opportunity, and the program will be relevant to your current position, they'll often pay for the course or grant you time off work to pursue it.
    • Read. Don't forget that books are still a valuable way of obtaining information - surprising, I know. There are books on everything from entrepreneurship to the development of niche skills in specific office departments, and while they might not lend you any formal certifications, they will broaden your perspectives and grant you new abilities. Best of all, you don't need to spend any money - at least not necessarily. EBooks are relatively easy to come by, and you can obtain the books that you can't find for free online at your local library.
    • Work with another department. Working with other departments in your organization has a few different effects for your potential value. First, it shows your initiative and makes you appear more motivated and committed to the company in your supervisors' eyes. Second, it gives you new perspectives on how your company (and other organizations) operates. Finally, it exposes you to new skills and developmental opportunities that you may not have had otherwise. For example, someone in another department may be able to teach you basic management skills for a specific type of software or piece of equipment, which you can then use in future roles.
  2. Meet new people. This is such a basic tenet of personal development that most people miss it entirely. Go out of your way to meet lots of new people from many different walks of life. You'll learn new skills, approaches, and perspectives that you'd otherwise miss out on, and you'll be exposed to new opportunities at the same time. Use a platform like Meetup to find groups of people who can teach you a skill, or just talk to random strangers about their professions and experiences. You'll be amazed what you can learn.

Increasing your value will always take effort, but it doesn't have to take an exorbitant amount of time or money. These methods to increase your skillset are just a few that you can take advantage of to flesh out your resume, increase your salary, and find better job opportunities in the future. Keep your focus on the future, rather than the immediate present, and remember that you are your own greatest asset.

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