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by Lisa Rangel | August 19, 2019

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When people are asked what their biggest assets are, most say their homes. And in most cases, that answer's wrong. Another common answer is the financial investments they hold. This is possible for some, but it’s also wrong for most. So what’s the right answer for the majority of people?

Most people’s biggest assets are their careers.

For most people, their careers will generate more income over their lifetimes than any other asset they hold. And if their careers are managed properly, they can maximize raises, bonuses, and perks for each new role they land.

The bad news is many people aren’t taking the necessary steps to ensure their careers are the assets they need to be. Instead of proactively managing their careers, they’re just sitting back and taking what comes next. That leads them to feeling underutilized, underemployed, and underpaid.

So ask yourself, “Am I proactively managing my career? Or am I letting my career happen to me?”

You have to ask for it

If employers know you won't ask for a raise or position yourself to be qualified for a promotion, they won't give you the raise or promotion. It's that simple.

"I can't believe they didn't give me the promotion" is a statement I hear all the time. And granted, sometimes it’s a promotion that didn't go to the right person. However, there are times when it did go to the right, like when I follow up with someone and ask, "Well, what did you do to try to earn the promotion?" and I get answers that make it clear that the person was banking on commitment, seniority, and loyalty to secure the promotion instead of proactively going after the career bump.

And so, the promotion went to someone who networked with the decision makers, was also committed, and already demonstrated results that were needed in the new role. The person who received it earned it; they didn't just expect it to be given to them.

When you take the steps to improve your skills, network with decision makers and position yourself as the winner, you’re managing your career and not passively waiting for things to happen to you. This is how you maximize your earnings—and manage your biggest asset.

Manage your career like a home you own

Let's think of this another way. Say you buy a home. Every year, you do yearly maintenance. You also paint every three to five years (or, if you’re in my house, every 10 years). Occasionally something breaks and you fix it immediately so it doesn't get worse. You might also put in a new kitchen, update the bathroom, or replace the siding on your house when you fix the roof.

All of these actions help maintain the value of your home—or improve it.

So back to your career. When was the last time you invested in your skills? Connected with fellow executives in your company on a personal level? Developed updated personal marketing collateral? Met new people in your field? Reached out to former colleagues and schoolmates?

These are all activities that keep the value of your career intact. They can also increase the value of your career when done right.

A final note

Are you managing your career as an asset? If so, bravo! And if not, don't complain when you’re not selected for the promotion or when the job search success doesn't come easy. Instead, look in the mirror and know that you can change at any time—and start properly managing your career.

A version of this post previously appeared on Chameleon Resumes.

Lisa Rangel is the Founder and Managing director of Chamelon Resumes  LLC (a Forbes Top 100 Career Website). She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Job Landing Consultant, and Recruiter. Lisa is also a paid moderator for LinkedIn’s Premium Career Group, which has 1,300,000+ members. Chameleon Resumes reviews the goals of each client to ensure career documents serve their goals while meeting the needs of the prospective employers. Rangel has authored 16 career resources, and has an active YouTube Channel with regular tips and advice.

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