The Best Career Investment You Can Make

If personal growth and professional development rank highly on your list of priorities, an important question to ask yourself is ‘what is the best investment I can make early on in my career that will reap the largest rewards later on?’.

Auren Hoffman, a serial entrepreneur and prolific startup investor who’s built and sold 5 companies and worked with the likes of Peter Thiel, knows a thing or two about the value of good investments.

Hoffman recently took to online question and answer community Quora to share his best career investment, and his advice is well worth heeding:

‘The best investment you can make is to invest in yourself’.

Specifically, Hoffman highlights the value of taking advantage of online education as a means of up-skilling yourself in your spare time.

‘You should be investing in your education. That doesn’t necessarily mean college or grad school, but it does mean massive knowledge accumulation to advance your career. Luckily, the cost of attaining knowledge has gone down dramatically’.

In a world where technology is evolving at breakneck speed, and new best practices for how to keep your skills and knowledge base relevant are continuously emerging, it’s more important than ever to place skill and knowledge development high on your list of priorities.

Sites like Coursera, Udemy, Lynda and Fizzle offer thousands of courses from UX design to digital marketing, web-copywriting, data analytics and beyond, and offer practically unlimited access to crowd-sourced expertise.

So why is continuous learning so important to the 21st century careerist?

Here are our five top reasons.

There are huge opportunities for digital migration.

As people and companies continue to use the power of the internet to create value, it’s crucial to explore every opportunity to migrate your existing skills into a digital medium. For example, if you’re a talented writer, you can take online courses on how to write web-copy that optimises for conversions or click through rates. If you’re an illustrator, learning graphic design software such as Adobe’s Illustrator and InDesign is a great way to turn your doodles into logos, and in so doing increase your asset value.

It keeps your ‘Rate of Learning’ up to speed with the world’s rate of change.

Google’s Analytics Academy – a wonderful free resource for anybody interested in learning about how to measure and interpret user-generated data – requires their certificate holders to renew every 18 months. In so doing, Google are ensuring that their information is relevant and always ahead of the curve. A great career, like a great startup, is almost never planned; it’s optimised over time. By engaging in continuous learning, you’re maximising your optimisation potential by keeping yourself fertile for new opportunities.

It’s a crucial part of managing yourself.

A company wouldn’t shut down its Research and Development department just because it was turning a profit, so why would you shut down your Learning department just because you’ve got a day job? Continuing to invest in your ‘in-house’ knowledge and expertise is an essential part of any growth strategy, not least for your own career.

It’s a crucial part of knowing yourself.

Author, teacher and management guru Peter Drucker in his gem of a book Managing Oneself writes “only when you operate with a combination of your strengths and self-knowledge can you achieve true and lasting excellence.” Mark Hla, our CTO here at Talent Rocket, believes that failing to continue expanding our mind risks limiting your chances of unearthing a hidden talent. “As you get older you change as a person, so exposure to new learning will help you understand whether what you are good at and enjoy is changing too. If you’re only learning about what you’re already doing as a job, it’s going to limit your ability to identify things you may now be great at.”

Because innovation is the only job that can’t be outsourced in the future.

“Going to university far from guarantees you an education”, according to Talent Rocket founder Chris Platts. “If the focus of university was instead to help each student understand what their strengths are, and help them find a career that they could be truly passionate about post-education, then there would be more people in jobs that were better suited to their values. Standardised testing throughout school has conditioned us to believe that making mistakes is wrong, which is at odds with the changing world of work which requires innovation.” In Chris’s view, the best strategy for your continuous education is to approach it from a position of strength by building on your natural talents.

Taking advantage of online education platforms is just one of the ways you can get started on firing up some fresh new noggin neurons. The past decade has seen an explosion of online courses being created by individuals who are condensing their areas of expertise into digestible and affordable online content. Whether you want to become a better blogger, learn how to create a podcast, or crank up your social media marketing skills, there’s no end to the access to knowledge and learning.

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Talent Rocket Blast Off:

3… Go – right now – to Udemy, Lynda and Coursera and make a list of 10 courses that get you excited even at the prospect of filling your head with all that learning. That thing you’ve always been curious about and wondered ‘how do they do it?!’ – now’s your chance!

2… Choose one of them. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on more than you can handle, especially if you have a full-time job. Focusing on one course at a time means that you can go into depth, take your time, and learn around the subject (yep, all those things you didn’t do in school!).

1… Create a learning schedule giving yourself a minimum of 5 hours per week, and get started. Today. I’m not kidding.

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