How Young Professionals Can Improve Their Career

How Young Professionals Can Improve Their Career

1. Ask thoughtful questions for guidance

In most organizations, more experienced professionals expect junior team members to have questions. If you’re facing a new task and are unsure of the best path forward, asking for clarity or guidance can lead to a more favorable outcome. Asking targeted, thoughtful questions might show your supervisors that you’re committed to growth and want to complete your work correctly the first time.

2. Establish productive daily habits

It might take some patience to reach your long-term goals, but setting a daily routine that brings you closer to them could help you stay on your intended path. Some people take a job outside their field early in their career while they look for an opportunity that’s more aligned with their goals. Making time to strengthen the skills that are most important to you could improve your chances of succeeding in your chosen field.

Many people find that setting healthy lifestyle habits has a positive impact on their career, too. Habits like waking up early, getting at least eight hours of sleep, exercising regularly and journaling could help you control your stress levels and focus better at work. Reflect on the career you want to have in ten years, and find small ways you can pursue it each day.

3. Develop a skill to distinguish yourself

You might find yourself competing with people who have similar qualifications and competencies as you, and developing an unexpected skill could distinguish you from other candidates. Possessing a special skill outside of your field could enrich your work, expand your opportunities and create a talking point in interviews and networking conversations. For example, if you work in sales, you could learn to draw, or if you work in accounting, consider taking a coding class.

4. Learn to accept all types of feedback

When you’re early in your career, it’s essential that you can process and implement feedback from supervisors. There are many opportunities to get constructive criticism that can improve your process and product like evaluations, one-on-one meetings and project notes. A willingness to reflect on feedback and demonstrate improvement may help you earn the trust of teammates and managers.

5. Maintain a realistic work-life balance

Many young professionals want to show their supervisors that they’re committed to the team’s success and have a tireless work ethic. While it might be beneficial to be dependable and hard-working, maintaining healthy boundaries may help you control your stress levels, minimize the risk of burnout and find greater job satisfaction. Try to communicate your needs with your manager and be honest if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

6. Identify compatible collaborators

Having mutually beneficial relationships with your peers can be beneficial to your career growth. It might be helpful to align yourself with someone at work or in your field who has similar goals as you but a different approach. Consider fostering a long-term partnership with somebody you can grow with, learn from and build something alongside.

7. Build and maintain your reputation

Remember that people in your industry may pay attention to what you do at work and outside of work. Aim to be professional and positive in your daily interactions and practice boundary-setting between your career and your private life to ensure your workplace behavior is appropriate. Taking on additional responsibilities, volunteering to help teammates and behaving ethically at work are all ways you could establish a good reputation early in your career.

8. Learn from people you admire

Consider finding someone who has a career you’d enjoy and learn how they reached their current status. Learning what opportunities successful people pursued early in their careers can help you set short-term goals. You could identify someone in your network and ask to meet with them informally to ask questions. Alternately, you might research a public figure who’s discussed their career in interviews, on podcasts or on social media to learn what advice they can offer.

9. Work on your sales skills

Sales professionals learn how to tell a compelling story about their products, but it can be valuable for individuals in any field to learn basic sales skills. Knowing how to sell yourself and your work can empower you to make connections, succeed in interviews and build a positive reputation. For example, consider developing an elevator pitch about yourself or a project you’re working on so you’re prepared to discuss your value with people in your industry whenever you’re asked.

10. Stay open to unexpected opportunities

When you’re early in your career, it can be beneficial to stay flexible. There are many reasons for your goals to change. You might take a job in an industry you know little about or you could receive an opportunity to travel or get involved with a meaningful social cause. All these things can influence your career and help you find fulfillment. While it’s valuable to stay focused on your goals, accepting unforeseen opportunities could lead you to a career that suits you even better than the one you’d planned on pursuing.

11. Prioritize self-sufficiency

Having an effective relationship with your manager at work can help you reach your goals, but it can be beneficial to take ownership over your career path. Be communicative about the opportunities you’re interested in and the ways you want to grow, and try to hone your self-leadership capabilities. Being proactive about your advancement could enable you to achieve your objectives sooner than you might if you were to wait for supervisors to suggest changes.