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Invest in Your Human Capital

As a young adult, your developing skills, education and sociability determine your ability to earn an income. Here's how.

First, recognize that your human capital represents the present value of all your future wages.

It matters most for Gen Yers, born between the early 1980s and early in this century, because of its ongoing value over the next 20 to 40 years in terms of funding your lifestyle and allowing you to save for current and future goals. Increasing your human capital enables you to increase your net worth.

Consider these strategies to invest in your ability to earn an income:

Education. What skills or certifications enhance your value or diversify your experience? What conferences, events or training sessions do you need? When it comes to education, subscribe to lifelong learning , using both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout your life.

What avenues help you continue to learn? Don't necessarily stay within the barriers of your current company; look to related industries and fields. For example, many insurance brokers, financial planners, accountants and estate planning attorneys attend the same networking events or conferences for new ideas and to keep up on developments.

Some of the most creative and refreshing ideas come when you explore how other industries or businesses operate.

Industry trends and developments. Do you know the latest news in your company and industry? Are you aware of trends, revenue sources and the overall market for your company or product? Who are your company's competitors?

Stay current as a resource by reading industry publications and understanding imminent changes or advances in technology or product design contributing to the company bottom line.

Make yourself indispensable to your employer or clients . Gen Yers' renowned and often deserved reputation for tech savviness means you likely catch on to technology trends quickly. For example, does your company need a social media refresh or rollout to the likes of Facebook , Twitter or LinkedIn ?

Volunteer to review the latest software products or customer relationship management systems to streamline your business and report on which new systems make sense. If you own your own company, then think hard about details of your clients' operations and provide indispensable advice and value to them.

Relationships. Solidify relationships with key company colleagues or members in your community. Who are you connected to professionally? Do you invest in those relationships? Seek out enough new ones?

Professional relationships take time and commitment. If you look to connect with someone, ask about them and listen actively - make eye contact, avoid nearby distractions and watch the speaker's body language. If you want input on a question, issue or project, appreciate and respect the time and thought of your speaker.

Your goals. Let's say you get fired today. Do you look for a similar position or change industries or careers? Job happiness figures highly in your human capital. Research, learning, relationships and becoming indispensable all come easier when you follow your goals.

Reassess your professional goals and wants occasionally - and never stop learning.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP( R ), is the founder of Workable Wealth, an RIA in San Diego. She is a writer, speaker and financial coach who is passionate about working with individuals and couples in their 20s and 30s to help them organize and gain confidence in their financial lives. She has been quoted or featured in various industry publications on the local and national level. You can find her on Twitter at@marybstorj.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialtyrank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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