How these 2 high-value skills can help you earn more money
The best advice I have ever received about money is to increase your income and invest the difference. However, this is often easier said than done.
Most people will increase their income and increase their lifestyle to match.
A bigger home, nicer car or more lavish holidays are often at the top of the list. That's assuming, of course, you're able to increase your income in the first place.
The key to increasing your income, in my experience, is not trying to establish multiple streams of income but rather maximising your first source of income.
It's easier to go from a salary of $60,000 per year to $70,000 a year than it is to start a $10,000 side hustle off the bat.
The other advantage is, for the most part, your salary will require you to work similar hours, but a new side hustle will need your attention outside your normal 9-5 job.
So, how exactly does one increase their income?
From what I have observed working across the government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors, organisations are willing to pay more money for 2 specific skill sets:
When I speak about sales here, I'm not necessarily talking about selling the product or services of an organisation.
While that skill can increase your income in certain roles, in this instance I'm talking about selling the organisation as a whole and generating opportunities. People who do this well have a natural ability to connect with others.
Can you introduce your manager or executive to someone in your network that could lead to a bigger strategic outcome or partnership? Perhaps you have a friend who works for an industry publication that would be interested in showcasing management or the organisation.
The art is doing it in a meaningful way that generates a win-win for both parties.
You don't want to approach anything with the mindset of asking your network for a favour. That's not how good business is done. Offer them something relevant and newsworthy.
If you can consistently deliver on "selling" through the connections you can make, your perceived value will significantly outweigh what's laid out in your job description and give you leverage when asking for a pay rise.
2. Management and leadership
For the purpose of this article, I'll be using these 2 words interchangeably as you're often required to demonstrate both when starting your career in management.
Because great leaders and managers are hard to come by, organisations are willing to pay good money for these skills. It's often an investment in efficiency and productivity.
The skills that you learn in management are universal. My first paying job at age 15 was working at Hungry Jack's. The skills that I observed from management then are fundamentally the same as what I have seen throughout my career and what I use now.
Creating an environment where people want to show up and do well is essential.
We can all think of jobs we've had in the past and the feeling of relief when we knew we'd be working with a certain manager and a feeling of anxiety when it was working with someone less desirable. The organisation and the work were the same, but the person in charge made a massive difference.
Then, it's a matter of managing the workload. As much as HR would like people to leave their personal life at the door when they start work, it just doesn't happen.
Still achieving KPIs while staff deal with personal issues or illness is a skill that will serve you well throughout your career.
Your game plan to management
Here is a game plan you can implement that will lead you to landing a higher-paying job in a management or leadership role.
First: Reverse engineer it
Find a few people who have the job that you want and take notes. I did this with people who held CEO or senior executive positions, which generated the skills and qualities listed below. Again, these skills are universal.
- Managing budgets
Being responsible for budgets and finances is a key skill. The size of the budget you've managed doesn't matter as much, but more so how you managed it and the ROI.
- Managing staff
Funnily enough, leaders and managers need to manage staff. This is the most important skill and something worth moving outside of your comfort zone for.
That means moving sideways in your organisation or perhaps taking a pay cut to learn this skill. Don't feel as though you need to know the product or skill in detail. That has little to do with great leadership.
I've seen experts in their field get promoted to management and be awful at it because managing people is a skill set on its own.
We are at a time when an MBA isn't critical to landing a top job. Universities offer short courses so you can cherry-pick the education that you feel is most relevant to your desired job.
Ethics, risk management, compliance and administration are all part of the governance framework. I like to refer to it as dotting the i's and crossing the t's.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors has a lot of short courses (both free and paid) and is a good place to start. The higher up you go in your career, the more governance will play a role in your day-to-day activities.
What to do when you get there
Once you've increased your income, the next critical part is to invest the difference.
I'm a believer in behavioural finance so I know it's not realistic to invest every dollar of your pay increase. You'll certainly want to enjoy some of it and reward yourself for going further in your career.
I use the 80/20 rule here: invest 80% and spend or enjoy 20%. If you increase your income by $20,000 per year, investing $16,000 and enjoying $4,000 is a good balance to staying financially disciplined and enjoying life as well.
Phil Usher is the CEO of Australia's only national Indigenous financial wellbeing provider, First Nations Foundation. Since 2014, it has helped the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community reconnect with $24M in lost super. It was also named the My Business Indigenous business of the year in 2020. Phil, a Wiradjuri man, born and raised on Gomeroi country, also uses his business and culture expertise to advise organisations, including the University of Newcastle, CBA, Australian Super, ANZ and NAB. He is regularly featured on ABC Breakfast TV, The Sydney Morning Herald, Smart Company and other media outlets. His podcast, Beyond The Gap, is among the top-ranking management podcasts in iTunes.
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