With tax season upon us, many are wondering how to get the biggest bang for each buck of our refund. Save it for a rainy day? Take that trip your family’s been talking about? The list goes on. It’s one of the few times each year that we find ourselves check-in-hand and uncertain of how it would be best spent. Sound familiar? If so, consider investing that refund back into your career! Studies show a strong correlation between job satisfaction and overall happiness, so every dollar invested in furthering your career is a dollar well spent all-around.
1. Take an online course for a specific skill.
This doesn’t mean you have to shell out thousands of dollars or return to school full-time. These days, there are tons of online courses available, many of which are free or low in cost. If there’s a particular skill set that is well-regarded in your line of work but absent from your resume, now is the time to add it. Whether it’s a technical skill (e.g. software, statistics) or a soft skill (e.g. management, leadership), learning a new skill can boost your confidence, impress prospective employers and command a higher salary. Don’t forget to add it to your resume.
2. Attend an industry training or trade conference.
Whether you work in a common industry (e.g. healthcare, finance), or one that is a bit more obscure (say, underwater hospitality), nearly all industries have trade conferences, expos, trainings, and other events where you can network, pitch, sell and brush up on your field-specific knowledge. For just the cost of registration (and maybe associated travel), you’ll meet prospective clients, business partners and mentors. Plus, you’ll learn what’s brand spankin’ new in the industry, which you can leverage in the name of a promotion.
3. Buy a modern, well-fitting suit.
We don’t advocate blowing through your entire refund check on all the latest fashions, but there is one item of clothing that is a must in every professional’s closet: a modern, industry-appropriate, well-fitting and comfortable suit. Even if you don’t believe that style matters in your particular line of work, a sharp suit can make a strong impression and boost your self-confidence at the next interview, business meeting or networking event. Have at least one neutral-colored, clean and pressed suit, ready to roll at all times. You never know when the next opportunity will arise.