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Making the Most of Your Job In 2021

Feb 22, 2021

The past year has reinforced the value of having a job, but in 2021, it’s important that you continue making the most of it. Before the coronavirus pandemic, several employee benefit programs and offerings were overlooked or underutilized. Since then, more employees have chosen to opt-into benefit offerings, which has provided a lifeline to many when they needed it most.

Below, we’ve listed a few ways you can make the most of your job to help set you up for success in 2021 and beyond.

Take advantage of benefits available to you, especially a 401(k).

Many employers have benefits packages available for employees, including health, medical, dental, and life insurance plans, 401(k)s, and others like discounts on gym memberships. 2020 showed us that these benefits are invaluable, especially if they offer discounts you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

If these benefits are available to you through your employer, take advantage of them if you don’t already! Though it comes at a cost, you cannot put a price tag on knowing you’re covered in the event of a potential medical or dental emergency.

One of the most valuable benefits is a 401(k), which is a workplace retirement account that allows you to contribute a portion of your pre-tax paycheck to this tax-deferred investment and reduces the amount of income you must pay taxes on that year. You will, however, pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it in retirement.

If you just landed your first job out of college and your employer offers a 401(k), consider opting into the program. There’s no better time to start saving for retirement, especially since you can typically transfer your 401(k) to future jobs. If your employer offers 401(k) matching contributions, that means they deposit money in your 401(k) account to match the contributions you make, up to a certain threshold. Depending on the terms of the 401(k) plan, an employer may choose to match your contributions dollar-for-dollar, or they may offer a partial match. If you’re eligible to take advantage of this benefit, it can mean a major increase in savings for you in the long term, as an important part of saving early is the power of compound interest and letting your money earn money.

401(k) contributions are usually made through automatic payroll deductions, which makes saving money for retirement that much easier. If you’re hesitant about committing, consult a 401(k) savings calculator or a similar tool to see what this investment could mean for you in the long term.

Ask for a raise.

Though asking for a raise may sound odd given the current climate, every industry, job, and employer is different, and you’ll never know if you’re eligible for a promotion until you ask for one.

If you’re looking for a raise within your current role, start by conducting market research to find out what the industry standard in your profession is to ensure you’re at least making that. If you don’t meet the industry standard but your responsibilities and performance match or exceed it, you can use these findings as justification.

If your goal is to prompt your employer to give you more money and more responsibilities, be prepared to mention relevant work history during your conversation. It is crucial that when you meet with your employer you exude confidence in both yourself and your abilities, so tell them why you deserve a raise and let your work, peer reviews and feedback, and overall performance support your claim.

Before approaching your employer, practice a few different scenarios where you ask for a raise with your spouse, roommate, or family member. You can also practice in the mirror, but the key benefit of practicing with someone else is to receive constructive feedback. When doing this exercise, focus on your breathing so that you’re projecting your voice when speaking, rather than getting flustered or letting your nerves get the best of you. Speaking with authority will show them that you are not only willing, but eager and ready for more responsibility!

Network, network, network!

The past year has shown us that we need to constantly brush up on our skills, including networking skills. Even though life can be hectic, maintaining consistent communications with your network—even if just through quick engagements on platforms like LinkedIn or an occasional coffee chat. You never know when you’ll need to lean on them, whether for advice or to source a new/temp job in the event that you’re furloughed, laid off, or decide to leave your current job.

Members of your network can also help you further improve your trade skills, as well as explore and tackle other things you didn’t know you could accomplish, like learning new e-skill that could prove handy to an employer in this digital era.

After a year of such uncertainty, nothing is guaranteed, and unfortunately that includes your job. That’s why it’s so important that in 2021, you take the steps to ensure you are maximizing the benefits that come with your job to make sure you are covered and prepared for whatever the new year has to offer.

Erin Elis 
Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
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