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A few career-related complaints have shown up on my radar a lot lately. People have commented in this community about companies taking advantage of them; a few of my private coaching clients are having trouble getting paid; and I witnessed a conversation where someone stated that setting boundaries made them very uncomfortable.

 

What’s the common theme here? These people are struggling to advocate for themselves in their careers. The truth is you have to be your own biggest advocate when building a career. Otherwise, you run this risk of being taken advantage of, missing out on a lot of money, or missing out on other important aspects of your life.

 

Fortunately, learning how to advocate for yourself is a skill you can improve like any other. Here are some areas where you can get started.

 

Set Boundaries Based On Your Priorities

 

The first step in becoming your own best advocate is to figure out your personal and career priorities. By becoming clear on your priorities, you’ll be able to make better decisions moving forward.

 

For instance, let’s say you decide that family time is a priority to you. So what happens when you stay late at the office without thinking about it? Well, that tells your boss you have no other priorities. This is because we teach people how to treat us through our actions.

 

Now, when a busy season comes, you’ll be the first person they think of when they need someone to stay late—and you can bet it will likely be at a very inconvenient time (like the night of your mom’s birthday celebration). By determining your goals or boundaries when you enter work situations, you can help avoid this.

 

Ask For Help

 

Asking for help is one of the greatest ways you can advocate for yourself in your career. Too often, individuals are afraid to ask for help, assuming they need to do everything to demonstrate their value. However, this only leads to unnecessary stress or, worse, mistakes that could have been avoided.

 

The next time you find yourself needing help—like when the workload is too much or you have a question about one piece of a project—ask for the assistance you need.

 

Ask For More Money

 

In my work as a financial blogger and business coach, the area in which I see people fumble the most in terms of advocating for themselves is failing to ask for more money. Usually, it’s out of fear that they won’t get it.

 

However, consider the alternative of not asking for more money as your responsibilities increase. Before you know it, you’re doing three people’s jobs for the price of one. To get over this, one thing you need to do is to stop taking on more work if you know you’re not being properly compensated for it.  If a raise at your current organization isn’t feasible, some may even consider finding a new job where you can negotiate a higher salary.

 

Have you ever found yourself needing to advocate for your needs in your career? How did you go about it? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your tips.

When I was thinking about selecting my major in college, I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I go for something like Econ, which I had no interest in but had great job prospects? Or should I pick something more aligned with my interests, like English or Psychology?

 

My dad told me to “do what I loved, and all the rest would follow.” He was a great case study in this: He had followed his love of travel his entire career, working his way up from throwing bags on the ramp at Logan Airport to running American Express’s travel division. After a long phone conversation with him, I declared an English major the next day. I haven’t looked back since.

 

So many students face the passion vs. profit question: choose one, forgo the other. I strongly believe that this is false. The two aren’t mutually exclusive; they’re complementary. Here’s why.

 

Passion Leads To Skill

 

As a kid, and still now as an adult, I hated all things sports. Regardless, my parents kept putting me in new athletic activities, hoping to find something that I’d eventually like and commit to.

 

It never happened. And it didn’t happen because I was “naturally unathletic” or any such nonsense like that. It didn’t happen because I was never willing to put in the time and effort to learn the game, teach myself the skills, and get better at it.

 

Why not? Simple: I wasn’t passionate about it. Sports felt like a sweaty chore rather than something worth dedicating myself to.

 

It is a lot easier to develop skills and expertise in something that you actually care about. I think back to if I had studied Econ, and had become, say, an investment banker after college instead. I imagine my working days would be sheer agony because I’d be doing work that didn’t interest me and I wouldn’t be motivated enough to gain more skills and advance my career.

 

Following interests you’re not passionate about for the sake of a dollar is a trap. It can quickly put you into the lose-lose situation of getting “stuck” doing work you don’t love, which will halt your growth (and probably your happiness).

 

Skill Leads To Money

 

Let’s consider another example: If I were to take the mythical world’s best investment banker and world’s best writer and put their paychecks side-by-side, do you think there’d be a reasonable difference between them? Maybe. But I’d venture to guess both would still be paid pretty damn well.

 

That’s because there’s a path to expertise and mastery in any field. And while the compensation rungs for different fields look very different when you’re just starting out, becoming great at anything leads to a fat paycheck because there will only be so many people in the world that have the same mastery you do.

 

It Doesn’t Happen Overnight

 

Just to make sure I’m not inappropriately setting anybody’s expectation here, I firmly believe the above is true—but it does not happen overnight or by magic. With any degree, you need a clear idea of what kind of work you want to do after school and, most importantly, the skills you need to build to get a job doing that work.

 

If you’re a liberal arts student like me, your major probably does half the job. It amps up your soft skills (debate, critical thinking, communication, etc.) more than a professional major does, but often, it leaves out the hard skills a lot of employers look for from new college grads. Make sure you use internships and other work experiences to build complementary skills.

 

Do you agree or disagree with this theory? Did you pursue passion, profit, or both? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments.

By the end of my freshman year in college, I pretty much knew my 5-year plan. I would graduate, complete my school’s 4+1 master’s program, give back to my community, and work at the hospital where I’ve interned since high school.

 

Now that I’m in my junior year, I’m ready to switch my plan up—to avoid falling into the post-college career path trap.

 

Education Changes

 

For starters, I don’t want to do a 4+1 master’s program anymore. I’ve decided that I’ll really need a break once I graduate from undergrad. As fun as college is, it’s also really stressful. As a result, I don’t think I’d be able to jump into a master’s program right after graduating.

 

From speaking with my mentors, they agree that this program is not something you should do until you're absolutely sure. It’s OK to work and then go back and pursue a master’s degree if you want one. This is what I’m looking forward to now.

 

Career Opportunities

 

Another factor was that my internship this summer at the health center went extremely well. In a short amount of time, I managed a grant for the Boston Public Health Commision, fostered great relationships with both my bosses and assimilated very well into the center’s community and culture, knowing patients and staff on a first-name basis.

 

I think I made a great impression. In fact, one day, both my bosses were out of the office, and out of their seven interns, they chose me to be in charge. I got to run a whole health promotion center by myself. Of course, my bosses were available by phone, but the fact that they trusted and believed in me enough to keep the show going was astounding.

 

Because of this great experience, I feel as though I should recenter my plan around obtaining a job after college, possibly at the health center. I expect to intern there for two more summers, and if all goes well with school, it’s looking very bright in terms of getting a full-time job there post-graduation.

 

Don’t Get Stuck

 

Many college students worry so much about picking a path—and then not deviating from it. But the older I get, the more I realize I do not need to follow a cookie-cutter lifestyle and that things happen at their own pace. Most importantly, there is ALWAYS room for CHANGE.

 

Will my latest change in plans be permanent? I doubt it. But that's exactly why I’m doing it. I now see that you can’t really put things in stone at this age. I’m constantly exploring, finding new passions, and networking so my plans for my future keep changing.

 

Never think you have to have it all figured out in the moment. Instead, have some goals that you hope to accomplish and frame your life in the direction you want it to go in.

 

What do you guys think? Has anyone had similar experiences? Log in or sign up with your Salt account to share your stories with me. I’d love to hear other perspectives!

Relocating for a job is not uncommon. My roommate ended up in Miami because of it. My brother just moved an hour away for a job. And I’ve had friends move due to their spouse’s jobs requiring relocation.

 

To make matters more interesting, much of the economic recovery of the last 7 years has been centralized in cities, particularly coastal cities. This means more people may find themselves moving to where the jobs are.

 

That being said, if you do have to relocate for a job, how can you make it less expensive? Moving is not cheap, so here are some ways to lower the cost.

 

See If Your New Employer Covers Relocation Costs

 

If you already landed a job that requires relocation, your employer may cover the costs. Many companies use what is referred to as a relocation package as a recruiting tool. According to the Houston Chronicle, relocation packages typically range from $11,000 to $33,000 depending on the size of the company and the position. In my roommate’s case, her new employer covered most of the costs of her move. She was working for a major company so it was easier to negotiate.

 

Deduct Moving Expenses From Your Taxes

 

I’m always looking for ways to save money on taxes. So when my brother announced he was moving about an hour away, I asked my accountant if he could deduct any of his moving costs.

 

The answer is yes, but it must meet certain requirements. Specifically, you can deduct moving costs if you’re moving more than 50 miles away, and you must work full time for at least 39 weeks shortly after moving. Since my brother meets these requirements, the next time he files his taxes he should be able to claim a few deductions.

 

Also, note that this refers to costs that came out of your own pocket, not your employer’s. Expenses you can deduct include a storage unit, transport of items, parking fees, highway tolls, and gas.

 

Find Other Ways To Save Money

 

Once you move, there’s the issue of furnishing your new place and other expenses you may have forgotten about (like towels and kitchenware).

 

Rather than wasting money, see if there are ways you can save. For example, you can buy furniture secondhand. If you change your address with USPS, they also give you coupons for home improvement and home goods stores. Nearly all of the furniture (and even some appliances) in my apartment is secondhand. When I initially moved and changed my address with USPS, I used to the coupons they gave to buy some kitchenware that was missing.

 

Have you ever moved for a job? How did you find ways to save money? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share them in the comments.

I’ve been at my current job at Facebook for about a year. After somebody has been with the company for 9 months, they typically start participating in the interview process for their respective team.

 

For the last 3 months, I’ve been speaking to candidates from across the world, trying to determine if they’d be a good fit for our content strategy team. As somebody who was hunting for his first job not too long ago, sitting on the other side of the table has been a strange adjustment.

 

There are so many things that I see clearly now that I wish I had known back when I was job searching. Sometimes, in the middle of an interview, it takes every ounce of effort I have to not give the candidate a helpful hint or nudge them in the correct direction.

 

While there are a lot of things I look at when interviewing folks, these are my personal top three.

 

1. Do You Pass The Airplane Test?

 

The airplane test is pretty simple: If I had to sit next to you on a very long flight, would I be happy, neutral, or annoyed?

 

Yes, it sounds shallow. When a (pre-Facebook) coworker first explained it to me, I was a bit taken aback. Weren’t we supposed to hire people based solely on their skills and ability? Well, kind of.

 

The issue is there are a lot of qualified people out there, and when you put a handful of them next to each other, as you would in a final round interview, their skills start to look very similar.

 

Often, the only things left to distinguish people are soft skills. Are they conversational and approachable? Do they take feedback and critique well? Do they seem collaborative? These are hard questions to answer, and it’s important to be aware of potential biases when making a judgement call.

 

At Facebook, no one person can make a hire or no-hire call—it’s always decided by committee. That way, if somebody gave biased feedback (consciously or unconsciously), we’re able to calibrate it against what the rest of the committee says.

 

2. How Well Do You Know Your Work? 

 

This one is especially important for creative positions, but I think it also holds true for other types of jobs. When you walk me through your portfolio, I’m looking to see how well you remember your past projects, and to what degree of detail.

 

Why? As a creative, intentionality is essential. Why did you write the sentence this way? If you chose one color for a screen when another could have worked just as well, what motivated that choice?

 

If the answer to these questions is “I just felt like it,” “Ummm,” “I don’t remember,” “It just sounded better,” etc., these are red flags. They not only show that you’re making choices on whims, but also that you may not have been involved enough in the work to know its intricate details.

 

An analogous version for a non-creative job: If you claim that you “led” a major project at work, I’m looking for you to explain it clearly, in detail, and without major stumbling. Gaps or a lack of detail may make me wonder how actively you “led” that work.

 

3. Are You Passionate And Enthusiastic?

 

Interviewing is hard and exhausting. Despite that, your interviewers want to see that the prospect of working at their company excites you. If you’re aloof, dozing, or not engaged during the interview, these are warning signs that you might not be passionate about the job.

 

I used to think this advice was silly. It’s a job, after all. How reasonably excited could you expect a person to be about a thing they need to do to support themselves?

 

While you don’t need to be bouncing off the walls with sheer joy during the interview, letting your passion shine through is important.

 

That’s because people who aren’t passionate about what they’re doing tend to not be the best folks to work with. They’re the first to leave work half-finished or poorly executed, and they’re unhappy the entire time they’re doing it. Nobody wants to hire somebody like that (see airplane test), which is why we’re paying attention to it during an interview.

 

Job-hunters, what questions do you have about what job interviewers look for? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post in the comments, and I’ll answer them!

A few weeks ago, the internet blew up with stories about instituting a universal basic income. In short, this means the government would ensure that everyone gets a minimum income—regardless of age, wealth, job status, location, etc. In other words, everyone gets a check even if they don’t have a job.

 

Those who are for it (like Mark Zuckerberg) argue that this move would give people greater financial security—especially as we move into an economy where machinery can take away jobs.

 

The jury is out on whether or not UBI actually works. I’m not about to make an argument for or against it. What I am going to do is teach you how to ensure a machine doesn’t take your job because that is a reality we need to deal with. Truth be told, there’s really only one solution for this …

 

Become A Go-To Person In Your Field

 

To my knowledge, machines will eventually be able to do any skill. Even my job as a writer is at risk thanks to software that can mimic human writing and marketing copy.

 

What a machine cannot do is have knowledge. They can have facts, sure. But they can’t come up with ideas on their own. They can’t reason the way you do, and they certainly can’t have opinions.

 

That’s why I make the argument that the best way to ensure that a machine doesn’t take your job is to become an expert in your field. Once you do that, people will want to pay you just for the chance to work with you.

 

Trust me on this one. I make a lot of money just because I’m the one doing the thinking, writing, and teaching. A machine can’t be me. Period.

 

How To Position Yourself

 

That being said, here are some ways to position yourself as an expert:

 

  • Build your brand. Create a personal brand online with high-quality content that showcases your expertise. I’ve been blogging since 2010, and I have consistently put content out under my own name for years. Eventually, this snowballs.
  • Be seen. Do speaking engagements and workshops around your town. For example, I was recently on a panel where I taught a group of business women how to market to millennials.
  • Make connections. Network and connect with influential people in your field. A machine can’t build relationships so this is definitely an advantage you have.

 

Above all, don’t just focus on being good at a skill because that’s replaceable. You need to have the skill and take advantage of what makes humans great—knowledge, creativity, influence, and the ability to build relationships. By combining both, you’ll be irreplaceable.

 

What makes your irreplaceable? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

In the last few years, we’ve seen a major job-hopping trend in the market. People just aren’t sticking around at the same job for very long anymore. The interesting part is the why behind it.

 

According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, 25% of professionals have their eye on a promotion. The problem? Research also shows that the reason so many people leave their current company for a new job is being overlooked for a promotion.

 

In other words, there seems to be a disconnect where it seems like companies overlook their own employees for promotions. In fact, recruiters often look for people outside of the company to fill hire positions due to various reasons.

 

Here’s how you can avoid getting overlooked so you get the promotion you deserve.

 

Sharpen Your Skillset

 

The data HBR reported on showed that one of the main reasons that companies aren’t doing internal promotions is because managers feel like their current employees don’t possess the right skills.

 

They either think existing employees aren’t ready or they are looking for specific skill sets that they haven’t seen within the company yet.

 

As an employee, you have two options. The first is to focus on keeping your skills up to date through classes and certifications. The second is to look for opportunities within the current organization to show these skills.

 

This will let hiring managers know that there’s potential for them to find what they need within the existing organization.

 

Ask For A Promotion

 

You don’t have to wait for a promotion to fall into your lap. Instead, you can ask for one.

 

If you know your organization is looking to fill higher positions, don’t be afraid to put your hat in the ring.

 

Even if there doesn’t seem to be an open position, you can still ask your manager about the possibility of being promoted.

 

The opportunity can arise at any moment, so make sure that you’re keeping a running list of your accomplishments for when the time comes. The more data you have, the better.

 

Unfortunately, this is where certain things are out of your control. Like the HBR article points out, a company may still not be open to promoting existing current employees either because they are expecting high turnover or they don’t have a culture that encourages it.

 

That’s where the third tip comes into play.

 

Get A Promotion Somewhere Else

 

Just because your current organization may not be offering promotions doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade somewhere else.

 

My brother actually experienced this recently. His current organization kept promising a promotion when he asked for one, but after a year of waiting, my brother realized it wasn’t going to happen.

 

So, he got another job instead. Not only did he get another job, but he also negotiated a significant salary increase—and got a bonus on top of it.

 

The moment you a realize a promotion just isn’t going to happen within your current organization is the moment you should make a move elsewhere.

 

Have you ever gotten a promotion? How did you make it happen? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments.

 

“Hey, Jose, how are you? Everything good? Listen, I’m reaching out because I have an amazing entrepreneurship opportunity that I want you to be part off.”

 

Have you ever had a friend start a conversation like that? Maybe over the phone or on Facebook? These “opportunities” are usually multi-level marketing business—and they’re far from “amazing.”

 

The products may change—from drinks to creams to groceries—but a lot of the same slogans surround them. “This is an easy way to make money.” “Your life will change instantly.” “You do not have to put in any work.”

 

This pitch can be very tempting, especially for busy people looking to make some money on the side. But like most things that sound too good to be true, the promise of multi-level marketing is often better than its profits. 

 

What Is Multi-level Marketing?

 

Multi-level marketing is a business strategy in which a company recruits people to not only sell its products but also to recruit more salespeople. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that just an illegal pyramid scheme? Well ... maybe.

 

Multi-level marketing is legal, but some of these companies focus on making money from recruitment, not products—which is a problem. For example, imagine a restaurant that recruits employees to sell hamburgers. Yet instead of selling hamburgers, those new employees recruit more and more hamburger sellers.

 

That’s because those new people make the most money by recruiting more people (getting membership fees, then fees from the people those people sign up, etc.). The cycle continues until the company can no longer recruit others or sell its products—and it's usually the latter. Then, everyone loses.

 

My Experience With Multi-Level Marketing

 

I will never forget one of my experiences with multi-level marketing. A friend of mine from high school told me about one of those life-changing, amazing opportunities. I was hesitant but decided to meet with his contact because my friend promised to buy me pizza. (I know ...)

 

The presentation immediately turned me off. My friend’s contact promised riches—but he couldn’t even fully explain the product he was selling. I just had to give him $365, get several others to pay for the membership, and then watch the magic happen. I’d be in my dream car in no time, he said.

 

Thanks, but no thanks. My business teacher in high school told me, “There is no such thing as an amazing opportunity. Everything in business is hard work.” I believed her a lot more than I believed this other guy.

 

What To Watch For

 

If you want to be part of a multi-level marketing company, by all means go right ahead. They’re not all fly-by-night operations. In fact, some have been around for decades, for better or worse. Just be careful that the company you choose focuses on selling the actual product, not memberships.

 

The presentation I attended was basically pay the membership, recruit others, and the product comes last. That’s a definite warning sign. Here’s another one: programs that require a lot of upfront money—either to join or to build up your sales inventory.

 

And of course, your eyes and ears should be on high alert for messages about how “easy” a multi-level marketing program is. Building a business is hard work, but that hard work shouldn’t come from recruiting others to sell a product that people could probably get way cheaper at the supermarket anyway.

 

Have you had a positive or negative experience with a multi-level marketing opportunity? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share it in the comments.

When speaking with my business-coaching clients, I see one thing that trips up these potential entrepreneurs all the time: putting their money where their mouths are.

 

They are fired up about their ideas, and they’re ready to invest all the time and effort it takes to make it happen. But as soon as you tell them how much money they’ll need to invest as well, they back out.

 

This stops lots of people with great ideas dead in their tracks. And I get it—because I’ve been through it too. Once I started investing in my business, though, it really began to grow.

 

If you happen to be in this situation yourself, here are some things you need to know about investing in your business based on my experiences of getting over these fears myself.

 

1. You’re Going To Need To Spend Money Eventually

 

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my business—and one of the biggest mistakes I see potential coaching clients make all the time—is trying to run a business on the cheap.

 

There’s a difference between keeping your overhead low and investing. Not investing will also end up costing you more in the long run.

 

For example, I wasted years trying to learn how to run a business on my own. I eventually got over my fear of investing and hired my first business coach. Thanks to what she taught me, I was able to quit my job within 6 months.

 

2. Get Comfortable With Risk

 

Investing in anything—whether it’s the stock market or your own business—requires risk. That’s just the name of the game when it comes to money.

 

There are two important things to remember when it comes to risk.

 

First, there is no such thing as no risk. Even if you are getting a regular paycheck every 2 weeks, you run the risk of being laid off the next time a recession hits. You also run the risk of not earning as much as you could have had you decided to start a business.

 

Second, there’s a difference between taking a risk and gambling. Most people think investing is the latter when nothing could be further from the truth. The key is you need to learn how to take calculated risks.

 

This is why businesses do future planning when they are about to make an investment—so they can create a Plan B if things don’t go as planned. They’ve also already mapped out how they are going to make a return on their investment before they make it.

 

The problem is most people start spending money without having thought about these two things. That’s when it turns into gambling and businesses run into problems.

 

3. Don’t Neglect Your Personal Finances

 

Another mistake I see beginning business owners make is completely neglecting their personal finances—especially if they are bootstrapping.

 

I understand the desire for fast results and capital, but I also understand the importance of making sure I’m taken care of.

 

That’s why I always saved a portion of my income even if that meant I couldn’t invest as much in the business at that time. That money has allowed me to ride out rough patches, pay for an unexpected surgery, and move out.

 

Have you started a business? What lessons have you learned from investing in it? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments.

I saw a piece on Investopedia recently about why people should invest as much as they can early on. And while that’s usually due to the power of compound interest, this article didn’t talk about investing just money. One of its main points was how you need to invest in your career as well.

 

Admittedly, it can be hard to invest in your career in your 20s. You may put in a lot of time on the job, but you may also feel like you don’t have the money to invest in things like additional training. Fortunately, you can complete much of the skills training you need online at reasonable prices.

 

To pay for this training, you can do what I did and find ways of earning extra money to cover investments that can help propel your career further. I made money freelance writing on the side of my day job for years, partially so that I could afford stuff like certifications.

 

And finally, investing in your career does actually lead to more money. In my case, all that training I did has led to earning three times was I was earning at my last job.

 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are the four best ways you can invest in your career in your 20s.

 

1. Upgrade Your Skillset

 

You can find several classes online that cover a wide variety of skillsets, from online marketing to coding and web development. Websites like Lynda, Udemy, CodeAcademy, and Skillshare offer tens of thousands of classes on various subjects at reasonable prices. As @josef recently wrote, if you work full time, your current employer may even offer this type of training for free.

 

2. Attend Webinars

 

If you hang out online long enough, you may run across Facebook ads or Twitter posts from experts offering webinars to teach certain subjects—many of which are free. Attending a free webinar is actually how I was able to teach myself Facebook Ads.

 

3. Hire A Coach

 

Sometimes, we need accountability and guidance to help us reach the next level of our careers. Hiring a coach gave me the confidence I needed to quit my job back in the day. A few years down the road, and I’m now earning way more money.

 

I also keep hiring coaches whenever I want to reach a new level. I just signed up for a group coaching program that will help me systematize and scale parts of my business so that I can create multiple streams of income.

 

4. Start Your Own Business

 

Perhaps one of the best ways to invest in your career in your 20s is to start a business. First, because having your money coming from different places is smart financially and can help you overcome economic downturns.

 

Second, because you have the energy to do it in your 20s. You also likely have fewer financial responsibilities because you may not yet have a mortgage or children. This allows you to take on a little more risk.

 

This is what I decided to do in my 20s, and it’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m earning more money, there’s no limit to how much I can earn, and I have more flexibility.

 

How do you plan on investing in your career in the coming years? Sign up or log in with your Salt account and let us know in the comments.


 

When I was building my start-up, I was also working a full-time job and getting out of credit card debt. It was not easy balancing all of this. When I focused on my start-up, I lost focus on my full-time job—and vice-versa. I knew that one day I would fully commit to my start-up, but I wanted to be respectful to my full-time job until then.

 

To do this, I had to identify ways to learn about entrepreneurship outside the hours of 9-to-5. If you have that entrepreneurial itch like I did, consider these tips to help you scratch it while holding down a full-time job.

 

Get Professional Development

 

In my last post, I wrote about the value of professional development—and I cannot emphasize this enough. Learn from the material, talk to others, and buy the extra material if necessary.

 

Just remember, when attending a professional development course on your company’s dime, put their interests before your own. You may not realize it, but others can tell when you lose focus on your job. Take advantage of whatever professional development your employer offers, but do not forget you’re getting it to help them first and foremost.

 

Take A Class

 

You don’t have to get a master’s in entrepreneurship like I did, but you should find a way to get the basics. Universities, colleges, organizations, and open education resources offer courses on important things like how to write a business plan, how to manage a business, marketing, finance, accounting, and taxes.

 

Even if you’re working full-time, you can take an online class through sites such as Udacity and edX during your lunch, break time, and after work. And if your employer reimburses you for taking courses, even better! Take advantage, but remember you’re working for a company, not yourself.

 

Watch, Listen, And Read

 

You can read, listen, and watch countless online and published resources on your own time, and my previous posts include many of these resources.

 

Some of my favorites include Entrepreneur Magazine, Seth Godin’s podcast, Bloomberg Online, Investors Archive YouTube channel, TED Talks, Harvard Business Review, and Forbes—just to name a few. Subscribe to these sites’ newsletters, read their books, listen to their podcasts, and most importantly, keep an open mind. After all, your “eureka” moment may hit when listening to a podcast about science technology innovation.

 

Do you have that entrepreneurial itch? Share your secrets for scratching it! Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post it in the comments.

Throughout my career as a financial expert, I’ve always been very transparent about the fact that I’m a recovering underearner.

 

I’ve had to learn how to value my work and ask to be compensated appropriately. It can be a terrifying process because you run the risk of getting rejected, but it’s also very liberating when you finally face the fear.

 

Here are three lessons I’ve learned from asking for more money.

 

1. You Probably Know More Than You Think You Do

 

One of the reasons people undercut themselves when they ask for money is because they assume that they don’t know enough to deserve a raise. As in, they feel like they don’t have the skillset or the expertise. I recently learned the hard way that people probably know more than they think they do.

 

One of my clients offered an SEO training that I attended. Everything they mentioned, I already knew and had implemented. In fact, I found myself thinking, “Wow. If other writers out there don’t know this stuff, then I should be charging way more because I do.”

 

2. Just Ask, And See What Happens

 

I’ve gotten in the habit of asking for more money just to see what happens.

 

For example, I recently asked to have all my expenses covered for a speaking engagement I was invited to. They agreed. I also pitched a client what I thought was a ridiculous amount of money for an article—and I got it.

 

I’ve even changed my coaching payment structure and am earning more money from one client in 2017 than I did from all of my clients in 2016. I also increased my content marketing consulting rates and got a new client at the new rate.

 

The reality is if we don’t ask, then we don’t receive. So, I’ve begun asking—even if it totally terrifies me.

 

3. “No” Doesn’t Mean “Never”

 

There have been plenty of instances in my career when I’ve gotten rejected. In fact, I still get rejected all the time.

 

What I’ve come to notice is that “no” doesn’t mean “never.” A pitch may not work for one client, but it may work for another. Someone may not be ready for coaching right away, but they are game 3 weeks later. Heck, sometimes it’s taken months for a deal to come through!

 

The key in these situations is to stay consistent. I am on top of my follow-ups so that when someone is ready to pay me, we can get right to it.

 

And even if it does seem like the opportunity is never going to come through, there’s usually another one right around the corner.

 

Have you ever tried asking for more money? What did you learn in the process? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments below.

This past week, I attended a 1-day project management seminar. Although the course cost $199 (without breakfast or lunch included), I received valuable knowledge that I will use in my career.

 

While this course was helpful, I’ve attended other professional development courses that wasted my time. Unfortunately, not every professional development course you attend will be worth the price—even if it’s free!

 

Often, you won’t know if a session is worthwhile until you attend it. With time and money at stake, some shy about from professional development as a result. That is a mistake. Instead, here are some ways to identify valuable training options.

 

Define “Success”

 

When figuring out which session to sign up for, the first thing to ask yourself is what you want to get out of it. What does “success” look like for you? Do you want to learn a new skill? Increase your work production?

 

When I was teaching personal finance to 8th graders, I attended numerous professional development courses on how to teach that topic. For me, I wanted these sessions to help me improve my teaching skills, which would help my students improve their test scores in turn.

 

By knowing what “success” looked like for me, I was able to select sessions that fit these goals. And with their help, my teaching skills evolved—and my students’ scores significantly increased. In short, I saw the results I hoped for.

 

Look For Quality

 

A big part of my success with those professional development courses was due to the quality of their content. The instructors provided valuable knowledge, real-life examples, and in-class role-playing to work out the lessons.

 

By reviewing a training’s content in advance, you can gain a better sense as to whether a session will be valuable. A course’s promotional blurbs and emails will only tell you so much about what it includes. Instead, I like to search out reviews for a course. This is easier for online courses where people don’t hold back their experiences in their comments.

 

If you can’t find a review for a specific course, look up the organization offering the training. If that organizer has a lot of positive or negative feedback overall, it’s probably a good indication of the quality for any of their offerings.

 

Be Involved

 

In my personal finance training sessions, I only felt my time was wasted once. One of the participants decided to argue with the instructor about the difference between the United States and European education systems—for half the session.

 

Look, it’s great to be engaged in a session. Having fun, networking, and learning from others will help make any training worthwhile. But word of advice: Please do not argue with the instructor. Save it for after the training because others want to get the material.

 

Also, know what kind of learning style works for you. Many organizations offer online courses where you can learn at your own pace or during off-work hours. Will this work for you, or do you need a classroom setting to be productive? If it’s the latter, find out if your employer will reimburse a course or talk with a tax professional about writing it off.

 

How do you determine whether a professional development training is worth your time? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your tips in the comments.

Back when I worked as a recruiter, I noticed certain patterns that held people back in their careers—and I fell into them myself, too. Now, as I coach business owners, I still see a lot of the same negative patterns appear again and again.

 

Here are the three most common career myths that I’ve seen hold people back. Don’t be one of them. Read these myths, internalize them, and then bust through them.

 

Myth #1: If You Build It, They Will Come

 

Many people have a real Field of Dreams-type mentality when it comes to their careers, money, and more. They think putting their heads down and getting the job done will get them just about anything they want to achieve in life.

 

In reality, creating a career that is fulfilling, well-paid (whatever that means to you), and has upward mobility takes more than hard work. It requires you to constantly seek attention and ask for stuff.

 

Ask for the raise, ask for the sale, ask for the promotion, and ask for the opportunity. None of these things falls into people’s laps, and even if it seems like they do, it’s likely because they’ve put in a lot of work beforehand and have been asking for a while.

 

I didn’t get to where I am in my career because it just happened that way. I’ve put in the work and consistently asked for things like more money.

 

Myth #2: Other People Have All The Answers (Because I Don’t Know Anything)

 

I’m a big proponent of things like mentorship, coaching, and asking experts for help. However, this comes with a caveat—you can’t get stuck there.

 

Often, people keep looking to others for answers because they don’t have confidence in themselves. So, they research stuff to death, keep wasting money on training they don’t actually need, and stall any forward movement in their careers.

 

This comes from a deep-rooted fear of not being good enough, and it stops people in their tracks in the form of perfectionism and procrastination. Remember, you got to where you are for a reason. Trust yourself to keep moving forward.

 

I’ve definitely made the mistake of not trusting myself enough in the past. As such, I’ve wasted money on coaches who told me answers I knew all along. I eventually put a self-imposed ban on buying books and trainings so I could focus on taking action.

 

Myth #3: You Have To Play By The Rules

 

Playing by the rules to get ahead may be the most detrimental myth of all because it keeps people from using their full potential.

 

Let me be clear: By breaking the rules, I don’t mean breaking the law or doing something unethical. I mean not being taken for a sucker or thinking you have to do things a certain way because someone told you to.

 

For example, I could have easily not even tried to build my own business as a financial expert because I have no formal training in finance—but I didn’t let that stop me. Now, I make more money than I did at my last job and have more career opportunity than ever.

 

Breaking the rules may also look like not giving up easily when people tell you something can’t be done. Stop taking no for answer and watch how your career blossoms.

 

Have any of these career myths sidetracked you as well? How did you overcome them? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your tips in the comments. 

A few years ago, I walked out of a supermarket and, out of curiosity, grabbed the local newspaper to look at its job listings. I was a few weeks away from graduating college, and my start-up had not generated cash. I needed a job to make ends meet.

 

One job captured my attention: a sales position for a Hispanic newspaper, which happened to be the newspaper I was reading! Fate, right? I quickly realized that wasn’t the case—and that I’d gone about searching for a job the entirely wrong way.

 

If you’re graduating this month (or simply looking for a new job), avoid making the same mistakes that I did.

 

Waiting Until The Last Minute

 

As I finished my master’s in entrepreneurship, I was so caught up in making my start-up generate revenue that I lost sight of the real world. I did not look at job postings, call up old friends for references, or even bother to freshen up my résumé.

 

Because I waited until the last minute, job opportunities were not abundant. I had to take what was available, which was a salesman position for a newspaper. If you haven’t started your job search yet, what are you waiting for? The sooner you get going, the better off you’ll be. 

 

Accepting Before Asking

 

After a successful job interview and presentation of my sales skills, the newspaper offered me the job. I would start the Monday after my graduation. I was so excited simply to have a job that I forgot to ask about a couple important things: benefits and pay.

 

After accepting the job, I found out I wouldn’t get any benefits except for biweekly pay of $500 plus 10% commission on sales. The first month, I made no commission. In the second month, I closed almost $10,000 in sales—which equaled just an extra $100 in pay. By the third month, I found a new job with better pay and benefits.

 

Forgetting About Fit

 

The newspaper company was small and had great people, but I did not fit in with them. I was a fresh, new professional—an outsider with college degrees. I couldn’t relate to these much older individuals at different points in their lives.

 

The company also did not fit my goals professionally. I wanted to work in a place with room for growth and benefits. If I had done my research, I might have realized the newspaper offered neither. It’s not like the company and the individuals there were bad, but growth and fun were on my agenda and not on theirs.

 

Before seeking a job, do your homework and assure a place fits you. Desperate times make for desperate measures, and sometimes we give into those. But if a job doesn’t feel right, do not take it because you may waste their time and yours.

 

Have you made mistakes when searching for a job? What lessons did you learn from them? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post them in the comments.