Should you learn more to earn more?
Jess Ellerm - career - 23 Jan 19

Love him or hate him, Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and early Facebook investor, is the master of seeing the unseen. In his book, Zero to One, he explains why the only way to truly break the mould in business and in life, is to uncover a secret no one else knows. This, he argues, is what allows you to build ‘the valuable company no one else is building’. It’s what puts your ahead of your competition, and positions you to dominate a market segement, creating wealth and value.

If we thought of ourselves as a business, could this same type of thinking be used to amplify our own value in the talent market, and therefore fast track our earning potential? What is the secret that the top 1% of the talent pool have figured out, that has their resume float to the top of every recruiters pile?

They’ve become the hunted

To become the hunted and not the hunter in today’s job market, with your pick of jobs and salary negotiation power, it all starts by differentiating yourself. That’s the ‘not so secret’ secret, and one a surprising number of people haven’t cottoned on to.

When it comes to differentiation, we’re not talking about peacocking in job interviews, instead it’s about having a suite of skills that are high in demand and low in supply. Talent economics 101.

These days, that Bachelor of Business or Arts degree that you landed 5 or 10 years ago isn’t really enough to set you apart from the pack. To stand out against the thousands of other degree candidates, you need to continuously invest in new skills, primarily digital ones, although as more processes get automated, the need for complex soft skills is also on the rise.

Better skills equals better job prospects, which equals more money. So investing today to earn more tomorrow in your pay packet is how you need to think. You are your best investmnet, and the sooner you factor this into your wealth creation strategy, it starts to work harder and smarter on your behalf.

Not convinced? Well, think about it.

Where does most of the money that goes into your super come from? Where does most of the money that goes into your savings come from?

Your salary.

That is the cash generation engine of your ‘personal business’.

Your career is the engine of your wealth

If you’re still in the prime of your career, the largest source of your wealth isn’t what’s sitting in your bank account or your superannuation - it’s your labour potential. Every day you sell your skills, energy, and time to someone or something, whether that’s your boss, or your own business. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the sooner you can sell it for more, the better off you’ll be in the long term.

To do that, you need to have skills most don’t.

CNBC recently listed the 10 most in-demand skills of 2019. It’s a mix of soft and hard skills, and includes:

Soft Skills

  • Time Management
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration
  • Persuasion
  • Creativity

Hard Skills

  • UX Design
  • People Management
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • Artifical Intelligence
  • Cloud Computing

If you don’t see any of your current skills on either list - some from both is probably best - and you’re serious about boosting your earning potential, maybe it’s time to start investing in upskilling?

Online and micro learning makes it easy

Luckily it’s pretty easy and cost-effective to do this today, thanks to all the online edutech platforms and companies like Academy Xi and General Assembly that offer short courses, evening classes and weekend workshops.

Academy Xi are strong on the data and design front, and offer courses in User Experience Design, Data Analytics, and Service Design, among many others.

General Assembly could be great for finding some courses that help on the soft skills side. Their Professional Skills course is perfect if your presentation skills need an update, or your elevator pitch needs a little tightening. They are also strong on the coding front, and their Web Development Immersive course will let you add ‘full-stack software’ developer to your CV.

And don’t forget platforms like edX, Coursera, Udemy and MIT OpenCourseWare, that publishes virtually all MIT content for free.

The year of you doing you

Saving more and spending less is a useful wealth creation concept, and it should underpin our wealth creation strategy. But saving is amplified when we leverage our earning potential. Think on that this year, and you’ll be amazed how you can fast track your way to prosperity by differentiating your self in the talent market better.

Btw, you go-getter… before you leave…

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Jess Ellerm

CEO and Co-Founder at Zuper Superannuation. Loves fintech, writing, pilates, Campari and sodas and, as of 2018, marathon running.