Career Resource Center

Maximize Your Earning Potential

Maximizing your earning potential is easier than it actually sounds.  Being successful in your career requires you to add as much value as you can to your employer.  However, you can further increase your earning potential by making yourself more attractive to OTHER employers.  In this article, we’ll discuss how to learn the skills and complete the training necessary to increase your salary.

Although many say that money can’t buy happiness, it’s certainly true that earning more money can make your life much easier.  In fact, many studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between your income and your happiness.  Additionally, adding skills and training to your repertoire can also decrease your likelihood of losing your job.  Remaining consistently gainfully employed is critical to advancing your career and increasing your sense of fulfilment.

What Skills & Training Do You Need?

Before taking off on a wild goose chase, it’s important to first evaluate what skills and training you actually need to get ahead in your specific career.  For example, if you’re a Staff Accountant who wants to become a Senior Accountant, you probably don’t need to worry about learning Python or JavaScript.  Instead, you’ll want to focus on reconciliations, financial analysis, and processing payroll.  Similarly, if you’re just about to graduate with a Computer Science degree, you’ll probably want to focus on Python, JavaScript, and C++ among other coding skills.

The best way to start evaluating what skills you need is to take stock of your current expertise.  Dust off your resume and take a look at what skills you’ve listed.  If you don’t have a resume, you should stop reading and go build a new resume.

Review the skills on your resume and add any that you may have missed when you first wrote it.  Then, take a second look and see what you have to work with.  Hopefully, you’ll have covered the basics like:

Time Management, Interpersonal Communication, Organization, Problem Solving, Team Collaboration

If you’re not confident about ANY of these five basic skills that every employer looks for, this is a great place to start maximizing your earning potential.  Companies like SkillShare can be a great resource for learning everything from basic to advanced skills.  However, if you want to save money, you can practice these five skills easily on your own.

Time Management

When you say you have great time management skills, what you’re really saying is that you don’t miss appointments, you do get your assignments turned in on time, and you’re able to use the time in your workday effectively.  With many employees working from home, and worker productivity posting the biggest decline since 1947, being productive through exceptional time management is a key skill that every employer is searching for.

Using tools like time auditing and Google Calendar are effective methods for improving your time management.  You can practice by creating a daily schedule with specific time slots for the tasks you need to complete.  You should start with fairly open timeslots and then make revisions to your schedule once you’ve more accurately determined where and how much time you’re spending.

Interpersonal Communication

Communicating clearly and succinctly is a key asset that a surprising number of professionals lack.  You can increase your value in the workplace by improving your interpersonal communication skills through practice and discipline.  Learning the art of small talk is essential to interpersonal communication.  Being able to “break the ice” through engaging yet simple conversation talking points will help you build trust and relationships.

Although it may seem simple and obvious, practicing your smile and handshake is essential to open and friendly communication.  Many professionals forget these basic steppingstones of human behavior. Finally, make sure you look the part with the right attire and the right attitude.  People like Ryan Serhant have built entire careers on confidence the ability to make a great first impression:


If you ask any top executive what the key to their success is, they’re all likely to tell you that they couldn’t get through their day without making organization a top priority.  Learning to stay on top of your responsibilities can require different tools and resources.  For example, if you use an email program like Gmail, using labels to mark your messages is an effective method for organizing your inbox.  You can also improve your organization by creating checklists and reminders to ensure no tasks slip through the cracks.

A key factor in organization is learning how to prioritize and delegate.  No one can be organized if they’re overwhelmed because they have too large of a workload for that day.  If you’re learning to prioritize and delegate, there’s no better read than Peter Drucker’s book The Effective Executive.  Don’t let the title fool you, this is a great read for anyone looking to move beyond entry-level positions.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is another skill that is essential and sought after by every employer.  Whether you’re working the register at a McDonald’s or running a Fortune 500 company, chances are that you’ll need to solve problems.  All effective problem solvers are also good at second order thinking.  Second order thinking merely means that you don’t just consider the immediate solution, you also consider the downstream effects of your solution.  You cannot solve a problem by creating other problems with your solution.  With this in mind, whenever encountering a problem, you’ll make yourself a better problem solver by first ensuring that you understand every aspect of the situation.

Once you’re confident that you have a complete grasp of what led to the problem, you can begin the work of figuring out how to solve it.  This means conducting research to determine if anyone else has experienced the same problem and already solved it.  Using simple tools like Google and YouTube to search for pre-existing solutions to problems can often yield excellent results.

Don’t forget to think fourth dimensionally!  Sure, you may have fully considered the problem, the situation, and the possible solutions.  However, have you tried coming at the problem from a completely new direction?  Let’s examine an outlandish example to better illustrate the point: let’s say you’re an engineer who has been tasked by the boss to create a tire that never has a blowout.  Perhaps you could solve the problem by using thicker rubber or changing the compound.  Instead, if you’re thinking fourth dimensionally, you may say “let’s get rid of tires completely and use tracks instead.”

In many cases, the best problem solvers are capable of eliminating the entire process that led up to the problem, thereby removing many other issues along with the one they were tasked to solve.

Team Collaboration

Many teams and workplaces have been ruined by people who can’t collaborate with each other.  Employers value people who can get along with others, share insights, and build working relationships.  These traits require a few very simple personal rules that will do wonders for your trustworthiness and collaboration efforts:

  1. Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to them directly.
  2. Assume that if someone hurt your feelings or spoke more bluntly than they should have that they didn’t do so on purpose.
  3. Take responsibility for your actions and offer credit where it is due.

If you take nothing away from this article except these three rules, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing your earning potential.  Burning bridges and making enemies is highly likely to ruin great opportunities.  LinkedIn recently conducted a study and found that 85% of jobs are filled via word of mouth.  That means your reputation is a valuable asset you should build by collaborating with others and making friends.

Beyond The Basics

Now that we’ve covered the five basic skills you need to be maximize your earning potential, we can take a further look at other skills and training.  Unfortunately, it’s impossible to compile a list of every possible skill for every possible position.  That’s why you should determine for yourself what skills you need to progress in your career.  You can do this by searching for future positions you may be interested in even if you’re not qualified.  Reading job descriptions will give you a cheat sheet of skills employers in your field are looking for.

Compile your cheat sheet into a numbered list starting with the easiest skills to learn.  Next, determine how you can obtain those skills.  You can enroll in a program at a local university, take online courses, or even just watch YouTube videos.  The primary thing to remember is that you need to keep yourself motivated.  Motivation means different things for different people, but the most universal way to remain motivated is to get results quickly.  That’s why you should focus first on the easiest skills to learn.

Now that you’ve learned new skills, consider earning certificates to show them off to employers.  Here is a list of LinkedIn certificates for some of the most popular skills.

Need help with your career?

Consider working with a professional service like Resume Writing Group. We’ve been helping professionals with their careers for two decades!

Further reading:

Boost Your Career by using the Job Market to your Advantage

How To Show Computer Skills On A Resume

How to Negotiate the Highest Salary




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