Invest in yourself: boost and maximise your human capital

Invest in yourself: boost and maximise your human capital

Our ‘Protecting our Families’ report highlights the repercussions of recent ‘unexpected’ events – such as the UK leaving the EU – revealing that more than a third (36%)1 of people are concerned about the impact of Brexit and Government changes. More to the point, our current economic climate has cast a shadow of doubt over people’s future job security, with two in five (42%) families saying they worry about the main breadwinner losing their job on a monthly basis. Now more than ever then – suitable skills, training, and education are paramount to making headway in a volatile and ever-changing job market.

Why investing in yourself could be the best investment you’ll ever make

In times of uncertainty, investing can often mean greater risk, as a positive return on investment is more doubtful than would normally be the case. There is one investment, however, that could prove profitable even in an adverse environment: your human capital. In fact, as one of the most famous investors of all time, Warren Buffett, once said: “The most important investment you can make is in yourself.”

Human capital is defined as, “the collective skills, knowledge, or other intangible assets of individuals that can be used to create economic value for the individuals, their employers, or their community.”2 In view of this definition, investing in yourself can be considered a great way to become more successful, fulfilled and secure, both professionally and personally. Just like any other investment, investing in yourself involves trading something now in return for something greater in the future.

Top ways to invest in yourself and your career

We spoke to Aimee Bateman, CEO of Careercake, an online career service solutions platform, to get her top tips on ways in which you can invest in yourself, and what you should look out for in terms of future employment market trends.

“First of all” suggests Bateman, “always remember a business owns your job, but you own your career. To invest in it is to take control of it.”

Develop and polish your transferable skills

Transferable skills is a term Bateman describes as, “core skills you can use in multiple industries,” such as communication, presentation, and planning. Improving these types of skills won’t only help in the workplace, but in all areas of life. As with most things, practice makes perfect, so the best way to improve these skills is to keep working on them.

Ensure these are really polished, as they are needed in virtually every market.

Discover your strengths and weaknesses, and set yourself achievable goals

Self-awareness is an extremely important trait to have in order to be successful; as Bateman points out, “always be aware of what you’re great at, and what you’re not so great at.” Once you’ve found the gaps in your abilities, and have established your strengths and weaknesses, “look to fill them.”

You can’t be great at everything, but you can show a great level of self-awareness, and identify the steps you need to take. You do this by setting yourself achievable goals.

Plan ahead and keep yourself in the loop

Planning ahead can be one of the most effortless ways to invest in yourself and your career. Bateman recommends “always being one step ahead, and planning for your next role.” The likelihood that you’ll be in the same position a couple of years down the line is becoming increasingly slim, “so look at what skills are needed in your next step – and reconcile with where you have gaps.”

Keeping yourself in the loop in regards to future trends and industry developments could also play in your favour. Bateman suggests “trying to anticipate future trends so you are aware of what could affect your job;” a good way to do this is by “attending networking events, watching webinars and learning.”

Acquire skills that are in demand

One of the fundamental concepts of a market economy is supply and demand, and this principle certainly also applies to the job market. The more demand there is in a market for a certain skill, the more valuable that skill is to have.

As most industries now use technology to carry out day-to-day activities, “there’s more demand than ever for IT, digital and computing skills.” This means that “people who keep on top of the latest trends in software, but who also have the tenacity to learn about new developments,” will have an advantage over those who don’t. Acquiring and updating these skills doesn’t need to be expensive, you can do this by taking free courses, reading books or watching online tutorials.

People should be confident navigating around a computer; it shouldn’t phase them. Technology will be firmly ingrained in the next wave of workers’ abilities – just like it is in millennials.

Mix it up

“The concept of a job for life has gone,” says Bateman, “people don’t tend to stay with a company for 10, 15, 20 years anymore.” Working for a number of companies isn’t seen as a negative anymore, as long as you don’t change jobs every couple of months. In fact, the experience of working for several companies or in different markets will, alone, “enrich your skills, and you won’t be seen as working in just one industry.”

Try not to pigeonhole yourself in just one industry by staying within an organisation for a really long period of time. Mix it up a little.

Adapting to a changing world

Bateman offers her opinion about the factors she thinks will affect the future employment market, suggesting that “automation is, and will continue to play, a big part in future trends.” As has been the case for a number of years now, people and businesses are “looking to streamline, to automate – to keep costs down.” Automation shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a threat, rather a way of simplifying day-to-day activities. One of the benefits is that if technology carries out the boring, mundane tasks, it will leave you more time to focus on the more interesting and enjoyable aspects of work.

Automation will always be a part of working culture, the key here is to firstly, understand it and secondly, learn how to use it to your advantage.

Investing in yourself today will improve all areas of your life, both professional and personal, and will set foundations for you to potentially earn significant dividends in the future. If you are, however, worried about losing your main source of income, there are ways to protect this and make sure your financial health is secure.

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Additional Sources

[1]The ‘Protecting Our Families’ study was designed by Aviva in collaboration with ICM Unlimited and Instinctif Partners. All findings quoted, unless otherwise referenced, are from research carried out independently by ICM among 1,593 parents with dependent children during Q4 2016

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