A career is more than just any one job.
It’s the sum of your experience, network and training, along with your ambitions for the years ahead.
And a career – more so than any one job – is the key opportunity most of us have to create wealth.
But thinking about a career as wealth-building requires rethinking how you earn. It’s not about earning enough to live on, or even enough to be able to live comfortably and take holidays on.
Using a career for wealth building means thinking about every dollar you earn as an opportunity for wealth. It involves appreciating your work and everything you put into what you do as a means to securing your future.
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Below are some of the key ways people use their careers — and the ordinary jobs they may work within it — to create wealth.
Career goals + financial goals = wealth goals
No matter what stage you’re at in your career, setting goals is a key strategy for mapping your approach and the things you need to do day to day.
Those goals should be around your advancement, your network, your passion and ideas for the future ahead.
But they should also be around how you’re going to use your career to build wealth.
Set goals around what you want/need to be earning and by which date – keep it achievable and relatively short term so you can immediately work on the outcomes, say over 24 months.
Within this foreseeable goal-setting time frame, you can also aim to factor in pay rises and bonuses into your financial goals.
But then also set a long-term financial goal regarding how much you’ll have to retire on, including superannuation, property and other investments.
With this financial goal in mind, you may start to see that a career alone is not enough for meeting these goals. Rather, you’ll need to look at other options to ensure you can put what you earn from your career to work, especially by aiming to invest a portion of your salary.
These financial goals will also put your career goals in perspective. Is what you’re planning for your career in line with your financial goals? Do you need to readjust your expectations around what you plan on earning in order to fit more with what you want from your work?
These are important questions to ask yourself in goal setting.
Finally, those goals will also give a clear budget when it comes to negotiating your salary and the jobs you take on – you’ll know what you will and won’t accept when it comes to salary.
Plan, prepare and prioritise pay rises
A career’s ability to build wealth largely depends on pay rises, alongside bonuses and other opportunities to earn directly from your work.
You need to keep opportunities for pay rises front of mind – they should be high on your financial goals list, and prioritised when it comes to how you’re approaching your career.
So get good at negotiating pay rises, which will assist you not only when you’re starting a new position, but also once you’ve been working in the same place for some time.
Negotiation is one of the best skills you can learn, so invest the time if necessary.
A few key things on asking for a pay rise
Be direct in asking for the pay negotiation meeting, this is not the time to put your boss on the spot.
Know the stats on what you’re bringing to your role. This includes your achievements and strengths and direct figures on how these have contributed to your organisation.
In a non-revenue generating position, take examples of projects you’ve contributed on and outline how your role has expanded and the tasks you’re doing that go beyond your job description.
Get a good understanding on the job market. Take a look at job sites and recruiter surveys to get an understanding on what other organisations pay, so you can take this information into your negotiation.
Talk facts during the meeting and leave aside the emotion. Remember, you may not get what you want — but you never know until you ask.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on the job market as well as promotion opportunities within your organisation, given job moves usually create much bigger opportunities for pay rises than simply sticking with what you’re doing and attempting to negotiate your salary.
Be prepared to move upwards, into management and over to completely different employers altogether, if wealth building from your career is a priority.
Also, approach every job you have in your career in a way that’ll set you up for promotion later on – even if that’s not your end game. Excel in your work, demonstrate your abilities constantly. Record your progress.
Aim to keep expanding your skillset and strive to find mentors and sponsors who can support and vouch for you. Stretch yourself by looking at projects and opportunities that go beyond your current role.
Time is your best wealth building tool, so find it
Time is the most precious resource we own and we need to guard it with everything we can.
It’s not just our own time we need to manage, but also the time we have on ‘the clock’ – when being paid by others to deliver on key tasks.
Finding and protecting your time is a key but often forgotten step in wealth building, when more credence is given to ‘working harder’ and longer hours.
But finding more time will give you the opportunities to stretch your skills and expertise – thereby potentially leading to pay rises and higher paid positions later on.
Finding a little more time in your day also opens the space to learn more about investing, particularly in getting to know the stock and property markets.
So how do you do it? How do you simply find more hours, especially if you’re working for someone else?
First, Identify what you want to do with your freed up time before you’ve found it — otherwise your daily tasks will simple continue to fill the time available to do them.
Then aim to prioritise time management: focus on the essential tasks that bring about the best outputs in support of your job and career advancement.
Avoid giving away too much of your time by applying a personal hourly fee in order to determine what you will and won’t accept from others.
And look to apply the The 20/80 Rule to as much of your work as possible — that is the idea that 20 per cent of what you do results in 80 per cent of what you achieve.
Finally, there’s another element to time and wealth building to consider: the time that occurs outside your career or job, or possibly in between jobs, which could present the space to consider other approaches to wealth building.
Don’t discount the time you have outside of your career to focus on side hustles, which can take many forms: property investment, property development and flips, creating an online side business and taking on additional freelance work.
Schedule personal investor meetings
Set aside time in your diary quarterly to check in with your goals and wealth building plans.
This is where you take control of your finances and start to appreciate every dollar that’s coming in and how your career movements are impacting it.
It’s tempting to just do this once a year, but putting it off this long could see you losing money, and losing sight of reality regarding what’s going on with your job and the economy, and potentially missing opportunities to invest effectively.
Three months between these personal financial check ins is reasonable. You’ll have your notes from your previous meetings, be able to personally see the progress you’ve made and respond to changes in the job market.
This personal check in starts with decisions around what you’re spending. Where can you cut back? What could you have avoided spending on over the previous period?
Then move on to opportunities to find additional income for investment. Can your re-addressed savings be invested? Are there bonuses you can aim to achieve this coming quarter? Is it time to renegotiate your salary?
Finally, take the time to analyse any investments you do have and to reassess opportunities that you could be pursuing.
These options include everything from additional superannuation contributions to investing in shares, property, fixed interest investments, gold and managed funds.
Angela Priestley is a Yahoo Finance contributor, writing on family finances and juggling work with kids. She is the founding editor of Women’s Agenda, co-founder of Agenda Media and a mum of three young boys.
This is part eight of our Jobs 2021 series, where Yahoo Finance is exploring how to succeed in the next decade: earn more, lead better and win in the next decade of work.