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BY Romy Newman

7 Skills To Boost Your Earning Potential

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Photo credit: Pixabay

TAGS: Job search, Career advice, Negotiating

Do you ever feel stuck? Or like you’re not on the right career path to make the kind of money you want to?

In many circumstances, your current employer or manager may not be providing you with the kinds of development opportunities that will help you advance up the pay ladder. In that case, it’s time for you to become your own career coach. There are some key professional skills that you should work on becoming excellent at. If you can demonstrate excellence in these areas, you’ll be sure to either get the promotion you’ve been wanting...or land a great new job somewhere else.

Here are some skills you may want to think about honing:

1. Project Management

No matter what you do or where you do it, project management is key to success in most jobs. (Even if you’re renovating your kitchen!) Project management requires strong organization, collaboration, communication, and constant follow up.

In my experience, the best way to improve your project management skills is to observe how your peers and managers lead projects and emulate the best of what they do. If there is a person at your company who is a great project manager, you should try to get some time on his/her calendar and ask for some pointers.

If you feel you need outside help, the American Management Association offers courses in project management. They’re not cheap, so see if you can convince your company to pay for you to take the course. (Many companies offer tuition reimbursement as a benefit, and it’s not always obvious.)

2. “Customer” Service

At the end of the day, no matter what level you achieve, you’ll be judged by the satisfaction of your “customers.” And “customers” is in quotes, because depending on your job, customers might be the people buying your product, but it also might be your boss or colleagues in other parts of the organization. If you’re the CEO, your “customers” are the members of your Board of Directors.

As you think about your working priorities for the week, spend some time considering who your “customer” is, and what he/she/they want. Check in with them, to make sure they’re happy. Try to anticipate their needs. The more satisfied they are with your performance, the better your reputation will become...and the more opportunities you’ll have.

3. Digital & Social Media

In every corner of every arena, the world is becoming digital. And digital skills are in high demand in the workplace. No matter what you do, there is some aspect of your job that you may be able to do better if you were more proficient in digital and/or social media.

Digital skills are also key for career opportunities because they are extremely tangible. Once you understand web development, or SEO, or social media marketing, or whatever other skill you might be interested in learning, you can list it clearly and prominently on your resume.

There are a few great online resources through which you can take courses in digital. Check out General Assembly or Udemy. And again, talk to your employer about tuition reimbursement. Most companies are chomping at the bit to have more digital talent in house, so they are likely to appreciate your initiative.

4. Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is an oldie-but-a-goodie. Excel is an incredibly versatile tool, that can help with many things -- accounting, analysis, project tracking, list management, and more. As a manager, whenever I’ve had someone on my team who excels at Excel (ha!), I’ve been eternally grateful.

If you feel like your career could be enhanced with stronger Excel skills, check out Lynda (from LinkedIn) or Coursera. Or, another way you can get good is by just experimenting or checking out free videos on YouTube. Challenge yourself to solve complex problems.

5. Public Speaking

When I went to business school, many alumns told me that public speaking and interpersonal communication were the most important skills I would develop at business school. I was always skeptical...but they were so right. Your ability to impress through verbal communication -- whether it’s in front of room, at a meeting, in an interview or in the hallway -- can make a huge difference to your career.

If you want to improve your verbal communications skills, practice, practice, practice. Take a video of yourself and watch it for improvement. Join Toastmasters, which is also a) a great way to network, and b) a great thing to put on your resume. And seek out scary opportunities to speak in front of a room. Proactively do a deep dive about a topic and offer to present it to your colleagues. Or (one of my personal favorites), go back to your high school and speak at career night.

6. Business Writing

Because so much of business is conducted via email these days, it’s essential that your written communication is top-notch. Don’t let bad email be your Achilles’ heel.

While there are courses that teach business writing, for this one, I’d recommend finding a colleague to partner with. Offer to be each other’s email coaches and read each other’s email before they go out.

Check to make sure they are cogent, easy-to-understand, friendly but not too casual, and effective. Hold each other to a high standard. Check out tips here from Harvard Business Review on how to improve your business writing.

7. Negotiation

On Fairygodboss, the #1 thing we hear from our members is that they wished they’d negotiated better for themselves when starting a new job. Negotiation is an important skill for you to use in your business dealings as well as advocating for yourself.

Negotiation most definitely comes better to some personality types than to others, but everyone can work on refining their negotiation skills. Some business schools offer advanced negotiation programs -- which again would be worth taking if you could convince your company to pay. Otherwise, check out some great books about negotiation.

There’s always opportunity for improvement -- no matter how good you are. But also, don’t feel you need to bite off more than you can chew. Think about picking one or two skills you’ll focus on every six months or so.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

Related Community Discussions

  • I recently got engaged, will be married October 2017. My fiance and I want to start a family right away. My job does not have paid maternity leave. Would it be premature for me to advocate for paid leave? My initial thought process was to figure this out as soon as possible. Maybe I should start looking for another job; researching other companies I noticed that most (all the one's that I saw) require employees to have been employed for a year before being offered paid maternity leave.

    If I could have my way I would stay where I am at and get paid leave.

    I have a positive relationship with my boss and can talk about this with him, however; he isn't the one who ultimately makes this decision, corporate does.

  • I am trying to change career paths. I was laid off in Nov. 2016. I spoke with a master resume writer yesterday who recommended an entirely new resume, LinkedIn overhaul, valuation letter and summary/biography all for close to $3000. I also received a call for an interview for a part-time job, $10/hour, no benefits. Needless to say I burst into tears by the end of the day.

    I had high hope when I obtained my law degree (especially after working full-time & attending night classes). I've tried contacting the law school and my undergrad career centers but have received only nominal assistance. They both wished me luck, gave me login's to their job portals and had nothing more to suggest.

    Someone mentioned networking & I agree that is an option but here in Michigan is comes with a fee to attend events, seminars or join associations. I understand we are all trying to make money but I graduated from law school during the recession and have 6 figures in student loans. I also am running out of unemployment.

    The master resume writer explained only 15% of people get hired from online applications. Is that true? If so then why are we even bothering with an online system at all? She suggested I find the hiring manager & connect with that person. The hiring manager is sometimes 2 people deep in the company so how do I find the person who told HR that they need a person for X job?

    I've reached out to people on LinkedIn and have not gotten much response or advice. Are there any mentors or HR people that can suggest anything that is free? My mom thinks I should go back to school but with a BA and JD that I am still paying for adding to the debt with no promises that another degree will land me a job doesn't seem wise.

    I am frustrated, disheartened and angry that the process of finding a job has become so convoluted but understand why it has. I've read so many articles on LinkedIn that they conflict with one another...you need a cover letter, no you need a pain letter, don't bother you don't need these because HR won't read it. Your resume needs skills, don't list your skills, list dates, don't list dates, take off references. Which article do I believe? Adding insult to injury the unemployment agency here requires your resume to be uploaded to the talent network. Do you know what companies contacted me expressing interest in my skill-set? Tru-Green lawn care as a fertilizer sprayer and a local manufacture as a line-worker. Is that all I am capable of and are they even reading my resume?

    If there is anyone out there who can help please respond and as 1 talk-show host says everyday at the end of her show remember to "be king to one another".

  • My friend just told me (she was trying to be nice) that I'm limiting my career potential because I don't wear makeup to work. Do you think she's right? Do I need to wear makeup to be "professional?"

  • Does anyone here work for Earnst & Young? I see their communications department is hiring for multiple roles I think I'm qualified for. I'd like to learn more "inside scoop" from a current or former employee. Also looking to learn more about how this department is structured so I can figure out which of the positions I should apply for. Don't want to apply for all of them and have it look as if I'm spamming them with my resume.

  • Any advice for someone searching for work during their first trimester of pregnancy? I currently work with a temp agency for income and am applying for my next role. From what I've read on the boards, it seems that most women are firmly established at their companies but I was forced to look for a new role outside of my former company due to a health condition. They were unwilling to move me to a different role within the company. Any suggestions on how to navigate the next 4-6 months before giving birth?

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7 Skills To Boost Your Earning Potential

7 Skills To Boost Your Earning Potential

Do you ever feel stuck? Or like you’re not on the right career path to make the kind of money you want to? In many circumstances, your current e...

Do you ever feel stuck? Or like you’re not on the right career path to make the kind of money you want to?

In many circumstances, your current employer or manager may not be providing you with the kinds of development opportunities that will help you advance up the pay ladder. In that case, it’s time for you to become your own career coach. There are some key professional skills that you should work on becoming excellent at. If you can demonstrate excellence in these areas, you’ll be sure to either get the promotion you’ve been wanting...or land a great new job somewhere else.

Here are some skills you may want to think about honing:

1. Project Management

No matter what you do or where you do it, project management is key to success in most jobs. (Even if you’re renovating your kitchen!) Project management requires strong organization, collaboration, communication, and constant follow up.

In my experience, the best way to improve your project management skills is to observe how your peers and managers lead projects and emulate the best of what they do. If there is a person at your company who is a great project manager, you should try to get some time on his/her calendar and ask for some pointers.

If you feel you need outside help, the American Management Association offers courses in project management. They’re not cheap, so see if you can convince your company to pay for you to take the course. (Many companies offer tuition reimbursement as a benefit, and it’s not always obvious.)

2. “Customer” Service

At the end of the day, no matter what level you achieve, you’ll be judged by the satisfaction of your “customers.” And “customers” is in quotes, because depending on your job, customers might be the people buying your product, but it also might be your boss or colleagues in other parts of the organization. If you’re the CEO, your “customers” are the members of your Board of Directors.

As you think about your working priorities for the week, spend some time considering who your “customer” is, and what he/she/they want. Check in with them, to make sure they’re happy. Try to anticipate their needs. The more satisfied they are with your performance, the better your reputation will become...and the more opportunities you’ll have.

3. Digital & Social Media

In every corner of every arena, the world is becoming digital. And digital skills are in high demand in the workplace. No matter what you do, there is some aspect of your job that you may be able to do better if you were more proficient in digital and/or social media.

Digital skills are also key for career opportunities because they are extremely tangible. Once you understand web development, or SEO, or social media marketing, or whatever other skill you might be interested in learning, you can list it clearly and prominently on your resume.

There are a few great online resources through which you can take courses in digital. Check out General Assembly or Udemy. And again, talk to your employer about tuition reimbursement. Most companies are chomping at the bit to have more digital talent in house, so they are likely to appreciate your initiative.

4. Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is an oldie-but-a-goodie. Excel is an incredibly versatile tool, that can help with many things -- accounting, analysis, project tracking, list management, and more. As a manager, whenever I’ve had someone on my team who excels at Excel (ha!), I’ve been eternally grateful.

If you feel like your career could be enhanced with stronger Excel skills, check out Lynda (from LinkedIn) or Coursera. Or, another way you can get good is by just experimenting or checking out free videos on YouTube. Challenge yourself to solve complex problems.

5. Public Speaking

When I went to business school, many alumns told me that public speaking and interpersonal communication were the most important skills I would develop at business school. I was always skeptical...but they were so right. Your ability to impress through verbal communication -- whether it’s in front of room, at a meeting, in an interview or in the hallway -- can make a huge difference to your career.

If you want to improve your verbal communications skills, practice, practice, practice. Take a video of yourself and watch it for improvement. Join Toastmasters, which is also a) a great way to network, and b) a great thing to put on your resume. And seek out scary opportunities to speak in front of a room. Proactively do a deep dive about a topic and offer to present it to your colleagues. Or (one of my personal favorites), go back to your high school and speak at career night.

6. Business Writing

Because so much of business is conducted via email these days, it’s essential that your written communication is top-notch. Don’t let bad email be your Achilles’ heel.

While there are courses that teach business writing, for this one, I’d recommend finding a colleague to partner with. Offer to be each other’s email coaches and read each other’s email before they go out.

Check to make sure they are cogent, easy-to-understand, friendly but not too casual, and effective. Hold each other to a high standard. Check out tips here from Harvard Business Review on how to improve your business writing.

7. Negotiation

On Fairygodboss, the #1 thing we hear from our members is that they wished they’d negotiated better for themselves when starting a new job. Negotiation is an important skill for you to use in your business dealings as well as advocating for yourself.

Negotiation most definitely comes better to some personality types than to others, but everyone can work on refining their negotiation skills. Some business schools offer advanced negotiation programs -- which again would be worth taking if you could convince your company to pay. Otherwise, check out some great books about negotiation.

There’s always opportunity for improvement -- no matter how good you are. But also, don’t feel you need to bite off more than you can chew. Think about picking one or two skills you’ll focus on every six months or so.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

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