The axiom “It takes money to make money” is as apropos in finding a new job and expanding ones career as it is in building a sustainable and profitable new business.
I am constantly in contact with professionals at all levels, from CXOs down to entry level new grads, and with career changers in every field possible, both those who are out of work and those who are currently employed and looking to make a strategic career move and I am able to see why some succeed while others fail.
One common denominator I have found is that those who succeed are more accepting of making that often difficult decision to take on some job search expenses to invest in their future, despite the current hardship it may cause, based on the ROI it will yield down the road.
Conversely, I found those who are content in the status quo and feel it is wiser to hold on to their money rather than face any job search expenses that could get them where they want to go are among the long term unemployed and those who end up settling for a job rather than being selected for the ones they really want.
That said, here are, in my opinion, some of the better job search expenses, or investments, people should consider to get on the proper career path for short and long-term success.
College Degrees: Today a 4-year college degree is almost a mandatory for most people in the business world. So if you are an older non-degreed professional it is not too late to go back to school to start or complete your degree. A few years ago people did not look highly on online degrees and sought only people with brick and mortar college diplomas. That has changed and I find many people 30-60 years old back in college to propel their career. This takes a commitment but for many of you the ROI is well worth it. As for a postgraduate business degree such as an MBA, it really depends on the industry you work in, where you live, and the type of company you want to work in. On the other hand, postgraduate degrees such an MSW, MPH or MSN are very valuable in their fields and I suggest going after them.
Certifications: In certain professions such as public accounting certification (CPA) is compulsory to move ahead after a certain point in your career. In other fields it is not mandatory but the gravitas and education you gain are well worth the investment. Examples of some useful certification I have seen are PMP for project managers, CIA for internal auditors, CISSP for IS security professionals, and PHE/SPHR for those in human resources. On a case by case basis you must determine if certification in your field has value and when is the best time in your career to pursue it. For some it may make an immediate difference and for others it may be required a few years down the road but still worthwhile pursing today.
Leadership and Executive Coaching: Some people are natural born leaders and decision makers and some need to be trained. If you are a team leader or aspire to be one soon, or an up and coming executive who is overwhelmed with the advice you are getting, how to get people motivated, how to run productive meetings, how to build consensus and achieve buy-in, and how to make the proper decisions than I suggest hiring a professional coach. If you want I can recommend some for you. People I have spoken to who made this investment told me it was the best decision in their lives and most said it accelerated their career.
Career Counseling: This is something I suggest for all of you who are unhappy in your current career and want to know where you can go from here. Often the testing and assessment process can be a game changer for you and for many is well worth the expense. For some I also endorse and encourage having an interview coach, because interviewing poorly is the #1 factor why qualified people are rejected and a lesser qualified person is hired in their stead.
Your Resume & Job Search: On this topic I am totally biased and with good cause. I write and critique resumes for a living all day and all night long and I can emphatically tell you that 30% of the resumes I’ve seen kill any chance that person has of being called for an interview; 50% of them are acceptable only as long as they are presented to people where the candidate is an already know commodity but are unacceptable when weighed against other unknowns competing for the same jobs. This leaves only 20% of the resumes I see as being of a high enough quality to offer the unique message and personal brand that turns employers and recruiters on. Not surprising, people in this top-tier had professional help. Your resume and LinkedIn profile can open and close doors in the blink of an eye and are well worth the investment to be among the best out there.
As always I am happy to critique resumes and provide constructive criticism when sent to firstname.lastname@example.org