When it comes to building wealth, young investors are told over and over that they’d be wise to take advantage of their heightened capacity for risk. Over the long term, the thinking goes, riskier assets have the potential to deliver higher returns. The younger you are, the more time your portfolio has to withstand the temporary bouts of volatility that come with such investments.
But what about the other way you build wealth — you know, your job? Young people would be wise to take risks there early on, too.
“Your human capital — your earning power over your lifetime — is a form of wealth as well,” says Christine Benz, director of personal finance and retirement planning at Morningstar. “Young people have an opportunity to push further out on the risk spectrum by taking career risks. It comes down to how flexible you can be, which you invariably are when you’re younger.”
Hunt high-reward career opportunities
The fewer obligations you have, the more risks you can take with your career choices, says Renata Dionello, chief people officer at ZipRecruiter. “If you’re younger, you likely have fewer financial needs. Maybe you’re not married and you’re not providing for others. You’re not worried about living in a good school district or paying a mortgage,” he says. “That puts you in a position where you might be able to take more risk.”
One form that risk may take, she offers, is taking a gig at an earlier-stage company that offers a lower salary upfront but that comes with stock options that could grow in value over time. “That can help both in terms of growing your career more quickly and also in wealth generation,” she says. “It’s an obvious risk because you’re tying much more of your personal success to the success of the company.”
Video by Mariam Abdallah
Another option is using the early part of your career to explore as many opportunities as possible. Gone is the notion that spending your early career at several different companies would be a red flag for the next company looking to hire you, says David Hehman, chief financial officer at FlexJobs. “That’s out the window,” he says. “The average length that someone stays these days is fairly short.”
In fact, changing jobs is one of the best ways to improve your salary. Since 2011, wage growth for people who switching jobs has outpaced growth among folks who have stayed put, according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s wage growth tracker.
Entrepreneur and podcast host Mandi Woodruff-Santos, for example, talks about how she upped her salary significantly moving through a series of new positions. As …….