In today’s post, I will share some of my best career tips for young professionals. These career tips should inspire you if you are a 20-something entering the frightening corporate world!
I have been working for only six years, but I managed to get a job in one of the world’s biggest companies before graduating from University.
I started as a finance assistant under a two-year contract and worked from 7 a.m to 4 p.m and then went to University in the evenings and on Saturdays.
While I was in my second year at University, the company renewed for two additional years. A few months after getting my new contract, I was promoted to a fixed Finance Specialist position. I graduated from University a few months later.
While all my classmates were stressing out to find a job during the pandemic, I was lucky enough to say that I already had a good position and made over 70,000$ per year before graduating.
I am not saying this to brag, but to let you know that if you are willing to do your best, you can get a well-paid job without having +10 years of experience. During my studies, I was not the smartest in the room, but I was the one who got the job everyone else wanted.
If you want to take your career to the next level, find a job you love, and make enough money to forget payday, keep reading. The career tips below can help you get there!
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1. Listen to your older colleagues
Entering the Corporate world can be overwhelming, especially if it is your very first job. You will discover a brand new world and will need to adapt your behaviors to be professional.
You will also have to learn new skills to excel at your job. The truth is that it won’t be easy. You will feel like everything you have learned at University or college is useless, but you must trust the process.
The best thing you can do when you enter a company is to listen to your senior colleagues. You have valuable knowledge and can bring a lot to the company, but you need to learn from others first.
Experts surround me, some of them went to Harvard and other prestigious Universities, and I see this as an incredible opportunity to learn.
Never be afraid to ask for advice. You will learn more during your first year at work than during your whole university curriculum if you do so.
2. Avoid the Gossip
Gossip is everywhere. I used to think, in High school, that people were immature and that there would be less gossiping at University, but I was wrong.
I was also wrong when I thought that there would be less gossip at work because no matter where you work, there will be gossip.
You can be tempted to repeat gossip to create relationships with your new colleagues. If you hear any gossip at work, you can listen to them, but you should never repeat them. This will help you stay out of the drama and focus your attention on what matters: work.
There is nothing less professional than gossiping. It is a waste of time, and productivity and never brings anything positive.
3. Have a Plan
This career tip is important because it can significantly impact your behaviors and dedication at work.
After a few months of working in the company, you should be able to say if you want to stay, look for another job within the company or seek new opportunities outside the company. Figuring this out early is important because you will need to adapt your strategy accordingly.
If you don’t want to get promoted in your current company, you need to start looking for a new opportunity without wasting your time.
If you are willing to stay and are eager to get promoted quickly, you will have to find strategies to make yourself stand out.
4. Don’t be afraid of challenges
This will probably be the hardest career tip to follow. If you want to excel at your job and get promoted quickly, you need to see challenges as an opportunity to grow. As an introvert, I can tell you that my very first months within the company were daunting.
I can tell you from my experience that you should never be afraid to take challenges. No one is perfect, things might go well or not, but people will see you as someone willing to learn and progress in both cases.
5. Understand the importance of networking
Networking is so important in today’s world. Knowing people with different experiences will help you be more open-minded.
It will also be a great help if you realize you don’t like your job and want to find other opportunities inside or outside the company.
When working in a big corporation, networking can make a difference between an average employee and a star.
Knowing people from different departments or subsidiaries can help you get a bigger picture of the company and its challenges. This career tip helped me gain credibility in my job. I am in contact with colleagues from different departments and countries and know their pain points.
Knowing the challenges my colleagues worldwide were facing helped me provide them with solutions. This made me somehow irreplaceable to them. This is one of the main reasons I was promoted to a fixed position even before graduating.
6. Be prepared
You probably already heard the quote saying that you should fake it until you make it. I couldn’t relate more.
You might find it hard to gain credibility at work as a young professional. The best way to do so is to be prepared. Never go to a meeting without knowing exactly what it will be about or without reading the slides.
You should also be prepared to take notes in every circumstance, whether at a meeting or discussing an important subject with your line manager.
Another simple way I like to get prepared is to plan my workday the evening before. Before arriving to work, I already know exactly what’s to be done.
This is a simple way to ensure you never leave anything behind and are on time for all your projects. Being prepared will help you gain credibility fast!
7. Know when to say “no”
This career tip is essential as it will allow you to find the perfect balance between being too nice and being … a bitch.
Being able to say “No” is important to make sure people respect you. This is something I struggled with at the begging of my career. If you keep saying “yes” and doing things for others, the problem is that you might end up doing all the annoying stuff nobody wants to do!
I have a simple rule to define whether I should refuse to do something at work. To take the decision, I ask myself two simple questions :
- Will I learn anything valuable by doing it?
- Will it put at risk other tasks part of my scope of responsibility?
I ask myself these two questions because if something is not part of my scope of responsibility and I will not learn anything valuable in the process, I refuse to do it.
It is probably a tedious task no one wants to do. Why would YOU do it if this task is not part of your responsibilities ?!
If I can learn something valuable by doing the task but can’t do it without putting another important task at risk, I also refuse to do it.
No one can legitimately complain because you did not do something out of your scope of responsibility. Nevertheless, if you accept the task and fail to keep up with other essential parts of your job, it will be nobody’s fault but yours!
8. Don’t overshare personal information
This career tip is essential to protect your credibility. You need to have good relationships with your colleagues, but you should not overshare personal details at work. No one needs to know you fought with your hubby last night.
I used to have colleagues who shared way too much about their personal lives, and these people were not seen as great professionals.
Be friendly with your colleagues but keep in mind that you’re at the office to work and not to make new friends.
9. Ask for what you deserve
This is another point many young professionals struggle with. No one likes to ask for a raise, for days off in busy times, or to be treated differently at work.
Nevertheless, if you think you are not getting what you deserve or are not being treated correctly, you have to express it.
Take the time to analyze the situation and write down things you want to discuss with your manager. It will be much easier for you to discuss it if you have prepared selling points.
This is particularly true when it comes to asking for a raise. Many websites, such as the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, can help you gather the necessary information.
These websites give you current median and average salaries in your profession. Using this legitimate information to ask for a raise is a great selling point to help you negotiate.
10. Do more than “average”
If you want to get more than the average people, have a better job, and make more money, you need to do more than the average. This career tip is important if you want to get promoted and plan to evolve in your current company.
You want to show the world that you are ambitious and eager to succeed. If you know that there are opportunities for your to evolve within the company you work for, you need to invest your time and energy to become irreplaceable. You want people to think of you to lead important projects.
You need to become a safe bet. During my 2-3 first years at work, I would work extra hours when required, reply to emails and messages outside of working hours, and even work on weekends if needed.
You might think this is not great for work-life balance but believe me, a high level of investment will make you progress so much faster. I did not have a lot of spare time during these 2-3 years because I was studying simultaneously.
Now that I got promoted and graduated, I have 5 weeks of holidays per year, work flexible hours, and have so much spare time. These 2-3 years working like crazy were worth it!
11. Surround yourself with positive and ambitious people
People surrounding you can have such an important impact on your behavior and success. Staying motivated and focused can be hard. You will go through bad times when you will forget why you started and want to quit.
Finding other ambitious people can be a great help in these moments. It can be a mentor at work, friends outside of the company, or both. As long as positive and ambitious people surround you, you will have good chances to keep up and succeed.
12. Be confident
Being confident at work at the beginning of your career can be hard. You’re entering an entirely new world and are surrounded by much more experienced people.
When in doubt, remember that YOU have been given the job. You competed with other candidates, and experienced people trusted YOU were the best fit for the job.
Keep that in mind, take a deep breath and do your best. You are going to do great.
13. Invest in yourself
Successful people all have one thing in common: they invest in themselves. Reading books, enrolling in courses, and listening to podcasts are great ways to invest in yourself.
Taking care of your physical and mental health is also very important to succeed in the long run.
Meditation and working out 3-4 times a week completely transformed my life. It helps me keep a peaceful mind, and you need one to crush your goals and remain consistent!
14. Be conscious of your gesture, look, and behaviors
We all know that first impressions are important. You never get a second chance to make an excellent first impression.
Unfortunately, the first thing people will see when you enter a room will be your gesture, facial expressions, and how you are dressed.
Make sure to have this first impression under control by preparing your clothes, shoes, and accessories the night before. Make eye contact when entering a room and take a few seconds to say “Hello” to everyone. Even though you will not be presenting anything, people will notice you.
15. Start saving!
I cannot stress this enough: be smart with your money. This is particularly hard as a young adult. I was not able to do it myself and made so many money mistakes in my early 20s. Be smarter than I was!
You will be working hard and will want to treat yourself, and you are entirely right. Yes, you deserve that nice bag or a great vacation, but treating yourself by spending money should not become a habit.
No matter how much you make, set financial goals and do your best to achieve them. Save as much as you can without making you feel miserable. Savings will add up over time, and you will be building wealth.
This wealth will bring greater opportunities and will help you live the life you have always wanted!
These general career tips are suitable no matter where you stand in your career and will help you become a great professional, get a promotion quickly and become irreplaceable in the workplace.
No matter the career you decide to start, keep in mind that you should have a long-term vision and work to learn and not only to save money. If you only go to work to make money, take some time to re-evaluate things.
You deserve to do a fulfilling job, and taking your career to the next level does not have to be hard! If you need help figuring out your life goals, my free eBook will help you write your own plan.