It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on your job when your job is meant to make you money, but the reality is that sometimes it’s worth spending a little bit of extra cash to invest in a career. Any money that you put into sharpening your professional skills or making you look more professional should come back to you in spades when your boss (both current and future) sees all the effort you’ve put in.
Here are some of the best ways to smartly invest in your career:
Sure there are plenty of ways to hone your skills while on the job, but that can take time, especially if you’re teaching yourself. If you instead decide to take some classes, you might be able to garner those same skills—taught to you by a professional—in a shorter period of time. As an added bonus, there’s always the chance that your current employer will be willing to pay for, or at least chip in for, classes that further your job skills.
Even if you work remotely or as a freelancer, dressing for your role is a big part of success. You might be surprised how throwing on a pencil skirt and blouse makes you instantly feel more professional, as opposed to working in yoga pants from your bed. You don’t need to spend a ton here to make a difference, either. A couple of staples—like some white shirts, a couple of skirts, and a few pairs of pants—should do it.
Setting Up Your Home Office
Especially if you work remotely—but even if you only occasionally need to work from home—it helps to update your office with at least the basics. A good computer (assuming your company doesn’t provide one), a printer, and a scanner are probably a must, but some additional things like an ergonomic chair, some plants, and good lighting will go a long way as well.
A Professional Portfolio Review
These days it’s about way more than your resume—your name is probably out there in more ways than one, from Facebook and Twitter to your own professional website. Since first impressions are so important, it doesn’t hurt to have a social media expert help you out by looking over your existing profiles to catch any glaring things that you might want to change. If you’re in a career where branding is important, these people can help ensure that your objectives are clear across all of your channels as well. While we’re at it, it might not hurt to have a professional help you set up your website (especially if that type of thing really isn’t your schtick) and glance over your resume.
Besides any courses that might help you further your specific professional skills (like copy editing, for example, or writing code), you might also consider signing up for a class that teaches leadership skills. It’s pretty much a given that in any type of career, leadership skills are a must, and an employer that sees you’ve taken the initiative to improve your own is sure to be impressed.
Taking the time to up your professional game doesn’t have to cost a ton—especially if you spread the suggestions out over a given period—but investing in your job in strategic ways could actually be one of the smartest things you do to advance your career.