The Millennials’ Guide to Building a Career

How many times have you heard that “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” quote?

Millions, I suppose. 

And, you know what? It sucks. 

Sorry, Confucius (Mark Twain, or any immensely wise and popular thinker who came up with this piece of advice.) 

It just doesn’t work in the world we live in. 

The American Dream doesn’t equal the white picket fence anymore. The days when the holy trinity of a stable job that you’ll be stuck in for the rest of your life, a happy family with a dog, and a big house are long gone and Millennials have reinvented this concept, though perhaps not deliberately. The 2008 financial crisis played its part in their reluctance to follow the steps of their parents.

They play by different rules and here are a couple of career-building tips for the members of currently the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.

1. Networking Is a Must!

This shouldn’t be a particularly difficult task for any Millennial, given that this generation has been dubbed digital natives, as they have been brought up in the world of the internet, Google, and social media. 

So, it’s very likely that you already use LinkedIn, but it’s important to do it properly. It’s not enough to simply update your profile and add connections. The point of this entire networking thing is in establish relationships with the people you get to know either online or IRL. 

So, once you connect with someone, start a discussion about your mutual industry or field of expertise, and don’t hesitate to comment on other people’s posts and engage in conversations. 

The same goes for your offline efforts. It’s crucial to attend different conferences, meet-ups, and conventions where you can meet some new interesting people and learn more about the latest trends from your niche.  

2. Be an Agent of Change

Instead of waiting for change to happen, be proactive about your job and take the initiative when it comes to ideas and innovations. 

When you notice that there’s something that needs fixing – a slow and outdated process, a clunky tool that you’re using, or anything else that can be improved, research and come up with suggestions and methods that will make things better. 

Only by going out of your way to contribute to your department and company as a whole, will you be able to build your position as a reliable and trusted employee. 

But change always requires courage and self-confidence that basically stems from your own sense of accomplishment and your own internal feeling of success, which means that you have to invest in your own professional development to get there. Career coaching can help you with all this and kickstart your career.   

3. Find a Mentor

Having someone successful, whom you trust, to turn to at crucial moments of your career and life is essential for navigating the rough waters of the business world. 

This can be your college professor, boss, or even somebody whom you professionally admire. This person can give you useful advice based on their experience, encourage you to explore a certain career path, or simply someone whom you can talk to about your latest business idea. 

Just don’t hesitate to ask whether they will be willing to help you and whether you can reach out on a regular basis – people are happy to provide mentorship. 

4. Build Your Own Brand 

Again, leverage the benefits of social media and start establishing yourself as an expert in your field. 

Update your profiles on a regular basis and provide excerpts of your work. 

It’s less complicated than it sounds and the sooner you start the better. Join different business groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, and provide valuable feedback, answer the other members’ questions, and use your knowledge and skills to help them as much as you can.

Such an approach will result in your name appearing in front of the right people’s eyes and popping up in different searches on LinkedIn. In other words, HR agents and talent scouts will take notice of you and the next thing you know, you’ll get a job offer. 

Volunteering in community service projects and joining a professional association are also great tactics that will allow you to showcase your skills and expertise, as well as connect with people who can play an important role in the growth of your career. 

5. Work Smarter, Not Harder 

Being a hard-working employee will get you far. Here’s another tip which belongs in the past. 

Nowadays when there are different technologies that you can leverage, there’s no need to stay at work even after everybody else leaves and slave away only to prove that you’re a valuable asset to your company. 

Modern-day managers don’t expect you to spend hours on a single task; efficiency is what they’re looking for in an employee. 

Some of the tactics that will help you achieve this include:

  • Avoiding multitasking. Instead of that focus on one task at a time. The human brain operates much better when you don’t spread yourself too thin. According to some research, multitasking can even reduce your cognitive performance by 17%.
  • Automating your tasks. Don’t hesitate to automate as much workload as possible. This will allow you to focus only on your core, high-value tasks and complete them faster.
  • Creating a routine. Your brain runs like clockwork when there’s a routine it’s accustomed to following. That way there’s no reason to “think” about the task. In other words, it’s like switching on the autopilot mode. 
  • Change your mindset. Having a positive attitude to problems and challenges will help you solve them quicker. Besides that, if you believe that you can do something, you’ll roll up your sleeves and get down to work without procrastinating. 

As you can see, all these tips are common sense and all it takes is the determination to apply yourself to following them. As simple and obvious as “networking is a must” seems, ask yourself whether you’re actually doing it right and don’t brush it off as something that won’t yield results because it’s not something complex and challenging. 

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