It seems like everyone around me is either looking for a new job or starting one. Most of us are at a crossroads and wondering which way to turn. What’s next? Maybe you’re also at that point in your career where you feel it’s time for the next step. If that’s the case, it’s likely your current job no longer feels challenging or just isn’t what you really want to be doing. Luckily, there are a few ways to improve your career in your 20’s that will help set you up for success down the road.
Post graduation is a scary and exciting time as you’re figuring out what this whole working world malarky is all about. Once you’ve adjusted to full-time job responsibilities, it may feel like the right time to re-evaluate what it is you really want from your career. A co-worker once told me “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s just different”. No matter what career choices you make, there will always be pros and cons. No job is perfect – that’s why it’s a job! The important thing is that you’re always learning, growing and challenging yourself.
I think the best part about your 20s is that you have the opportunity to be a sponge. Though you’re never too old to learn something new, I think young people in the workplace can wear so many different hats and really put all of their unique skills to use. Maybe you currently work within the marketing department, but have always been interested in event planning. I’m sure the events team at your company could use an extra hand and it will look good on you to offer to help them! You just never know what doors will open from making a good impression even if it’s as simple as doing a small favor for another person or team within your company. And on that note, let’s get started…
1. Take Advantage of Your Freedom
Generally, people in their 20s have less responsibilities and obligations as people in their 30s, 40s and beyond. Yes, you still have responsibilities in the form of paying your rent/mortgage, going to work and maybe caring for your cat or dog. There’s a good chance you don’t have children, a spouse or aging parents to care for. At this point in your life, you can afford to take more risks and shoot for the stars because there isn’t as much holding you back. Take advantage of the fact that you can work those long hours in order to get the promotion. If you decide to take a risk and go for a completely different career path, you’ll still have plenty of time to get back on track if things don’t go your way (hopefully they do!).
2. Speak to Your Mentors/Industry Professionals
Many companies have mentor/mentee programs for employees. After I filled out a questionnaire, I was matched with someone who would serve as a valuable mentor for my personal goals and interests. Even if your company doesn’t have a mentor/mentee program, you can reach out to someone who has the career you want to be doing in the next 10-15 years. I’m sure they would be happy to share insight with regard to getting you where you want to be.
3. Network, Network, Network!
Developing good networking skills early on in your career will help you immensely in the long run. My favorite tool to use for networking purposes is LinkedIn. Almost all recruiters use LinkedIn as a resource to attract top talent. Also, you should always try to keep in contact with former colleagues as you never know if you’ll end up working with someone you used to know in a former job. Staying in contact could give you opportunities down the line that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Some companies offer free training to employees where you’ll have the opportunity to learn a new skill or software/program. Having a certain skill or knowledge of a program could put you in front of other candidates for future job opportunities. Let’s also not forget about education! If you’re leaning toward getting an MBA or graduate certificate, go for it. It goes without saying that a postgraduate degree with not only strengthen your resume, but will help you stand out amongst those with just bachelor’s degrees.
5. Go The Extra Mile
The job market is extremely competitive nowadays. Give yourself an edge by establishing yourself as having authority in your current field early on in your career. Luckily, you can do this easily through social media as there are a bunch of platforms you can use to share your passion and knowledge. Post articles, ask thoughtful questions and show your work on your platforms. Maybe even consider launching a blog (that’s what I did!). As you become a credible authority in your field, opportunities you could only dream of will fall into your lap. But you have to be willing to put in the work!
Best of luck!