How To Grow as a Professional: Invest in Career Capital

9 months ago   •   3 min read

By Zero Machina

Professional growth requires strategic planning, sharpened skillsets, and a strong network.  You can’t just rely on passion and luck—you'll want to be proactive and make things happen.

There's a surefire way to improve your odds of success: build career capital. This is the culmination of assets and resources that increases your value in the marketplace. And it can be strategically developed over time.

Let's explore how you can unlock future opportunities by investing in career capital.

What Is Career Capital?

Career capital is a collection of assets and resources that improve your professional success.

This involves your:

  • Skills and expertise
  • Network and contacts
  • Reputation
  • Credentials
  • Experience

The marketplace is competitive, whether you're starting a business or looking for a job. You become more sought-after as your career capital expands. More opportunities open up to you, and you're able to start a successful company or command a higher salary.

Building career capital requires proactivity. It's not enough to be passionate and have a great idea—you need the right infrastructure to make things happen.

How To Start Building Career Capital and Grow as a Professional

If you want to build career capital, it's important to focus on activities that have the biggest impact.

Keep these tips in mind as you invest in your professional growth.

1. Prioritize Skill-Development

The first step to building career capital is to focus on skill development.  

Ask yourself: Which skills will unlock future opportunities?

Expanding your expertise makes you more marketable and sought-after. Choose a lane aligned to your core strengths, then double down. If you're not crystal clear on the skill you want to develop, you may need to explore different avenues first. Perhaps you take on new projects, take a class, or become certified in a vital area in your industry.

Always be learning and expanding your skillsets.

2. Build a Strong Network

Your network can be a powerful resource.

There are people who can open doors, make introductions, and provide insights for taking your career to the next level.  Make an effort to connect with them. Go to events and collaborate on projects. Talk to professionals who've accomplished what you want. And seek out organizations with ambitious members.

A strong network builds your career capital.

3. Develop a Good Reputation

What do people say about you when you're not in the room?

Integrity is attractive–professionals and opportunities are drawn to it. To build a good reputation, always deliver on your promises. Be a respectful team player. Help others, share your expertise, and be humble. And when you make mistakes, own up to them.

Your reputation will open doors (or close them).

4. Acquire Credentials and Experience

Credentials and experience give you an edge in the marketplace. They signal to others that you're qualified and have a track record of success.

Earlier in your career, you'll be less picky—taking on internships, volunteering, or doing freelance work in your field. The key is to get your foot in the door and start building a track record of success.  But if you're further along in your career, you'll be pickier—choosing projects and opportunities that will elevate your success.

The right mix of credentials and experience will make you more competitive and help you stand out.

Next Steps

Investing in career capital makes you more marketable, giving you the assets and resources to excel.

Develop skills through credentials and experience. Build a strong network. And always be aware of your reputation. By building your career capital, you'll be able to take advantage of opportunities and thrive as a professional.

Want to learn more about learning skills for the future of work? Check out our article: Essential Skills Professionals Need To Succeed In The Future Of Work.

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