Kimberly Palmer is the author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, which was published by Ten Speed Press this week. The below tips have been adapted from the book.
Investing in your career can not only lead to a bigger paycheck, but also greater satisfaction if it means you’re one step closer to achieving your long-term goals. Here are three career investments you should make today:
1. Benefit From Another’s Experience
Unfortunately, the business world doesn’t come with straightforward rules. It’s not always obvious how to talk to your boss, lead a meeting, or ask for a raise. Coaches who focus on personal development can help provide feedback and advice so you can navigate the working world more smoothly. A coach might notice that you miss opportunities to speak up in group settings, or that you focus too much on getting work done and not enough on networking.
Coaches can also teach specific skills. If you dream of being the next NPR star, then perhaps you want to invest in some voice lessons. The price of one-one-one coaching usually starts at about $200 an hour, but much better deals can be found through group courses organized through local professional organizations. Coaches are also often willing to offer a discount, especially if you’re paying yourself. Another option is to see if your company will foot the bill if you can show how the coaching will boost your productivity on the job.
Sometimes you can find free coaching in the form of more experienced colleagues willing to dish about their career lessons over lunch or coffee. It often just takes an invitation; you might find they’re eager to take you under their wing.
2. Revamp Your Wardrobe With a (Free) Personal Shopper
Working with a professional to upgrade your wardrobe might sound like a celebrity-level luxury, but it’s actually a valuable career investment for anyone whose job requires interaction with other people. You won’t get to work with Rachel Zoe, but you can get fabulous advice—for free—through most major department stores, including Macy’s and Bloomingdales, so you just have to pay for the price of the clothes.
Just call to set up an appointment (numbers for local stores’ personal shoppers can be found online) and the personal shopper will match styles to your overall look and existing wardrobe. If you have plenty of black pants but few items that “pop,” she might track down a yellow jacket or green wrap top. She can help keep it affordable by mixing and matching with your existing pieces, and adding an accessory or two to dress up a look.
Looking good at work translates into feeling good and commanding respect from your colleagues, which is why working with a personal shopper, and purchasing some of her recommendations, is an investment in your career.
3. Consider Outsourcing Your Chores
To calculate whether it makes sense to outsource, start with a list of the chores you do each week. Then, make a second list of what else you could be doing with that time. Working on your book? Designing your dream house? Checking out a new coffee shop with your significant other, or meeting up with your friends? Do a little online research to see how much it would cost to hire someone to do the chores for you, and then do a little cost-benefit analysis. A cleaning service, for example, might cost $80 per visit, and save you four hours. If you would pay $20 an hour to do whatever is on your second list, then the investment is worth it.
If it is, then maybe you can finally schedule the coaching session that gets you moving towards your new-and-improved career. That sounds like a much better plan for a Saturday than anything involving cleaning supplies!
For a chance to win a copy of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, share the best career investment you’ve ever made below. How did it pay off? We want to know!