In your early 20s, most people start down their career path and start making their way up. You may or may not have been to college, but this is the time when people start to settle down in their careers.
So, let’s say you're on this path, you've got the job you wanted and you are ready to climb the career ladder. There are some things you can do now that will help your career later on in life (and trust me, it will really be worth it). Below we have outlined some useful tips and goals you should aim to achieve in your 20s.
1. Make The Most Of Your 'Freedom'
You are probably the most 'free' as you will ever be. By this I mean you likely have the least responsibilities you will have in your career life. Yes, you have to pay your bills and your rent/mortgage, but most people don't have spouses or children and the other endless responsibilities that come over the years (for example, pets, ill/aging family members, etc). You should take advantage of this and use this time to make sacrifices or risks. If you have to work endless hours in order to get that promotion, do it.
The same applies for risks, if it’s a career gamble you should do it now, because not only do you not have all the responsibilities that come later, but you have years of career path left to make up in case it doesn't pay off. By all means, this does not mean you should dedicate all your time to working or take ridiculous risks, be responsible but make the most of that freedom.
You just finished school, and so the last thing you will want to do is more training. But if your company offers training, take this opportunity. If your company is paying for the training, take all you can get. This will do wonders for your career and can put you above other candidates for future jobs or promotions as you have that extra learning in your bag. This is particularly useful if you have a particular job title you're working toward.
Take a look at similar job postings and see what skills are required -- this will give you an idea of what training you can do and how it will put you ahead in the running for the job. Even if this particular training won't pay off now, it certainly will later in life and you will kick yourself if you don't take the opportunity. A Manpower Group survey found that one-third of employers have problems finding the right candidate for a job vacancy and this is often because of a lack of job specific certifications and hard skills. This just shows how having a relevant certification can really benefit you later on in your career.
3. Speak to Advisors/Mentors
If you are new to the company, or even if not, it can seem intimidating to seek out a mentor or ask later-stage professionals for advice. Do it anyway. Most of these professionals will welcome the opportunity to share their knowledge with you and pass on expertise. Find people who are doing what you want to be doing in the next 10 to 15 years. Or, alternatively, you could find an in-house recruiter who would have the knowledge of what the company is looking for. They can give you great advice about how to get to where you want to be, whether that be about extra training, skills or experience you should be looking to gain. With this, you have the knowledge to keep on track towards to the career you want and you give yourself plenty of time to achieve these.
There are a few points I want to include under this heading. First of all, you should try to keep some form of contact with old colleagues as this could benefit you down the line. Many people may loop back round and end up working with old colleagues and having this contact could mean you are offered opportunities you may not have been before. The same applies to professional organizations. Most people don't join these groups until later in their career but you could miss lots of opportunities by doing that. Again, networking is key and LinkedIn is great for this. It lets you read profiles and keep that contact with colleagues. Nine out of ten recruiters have said they talent using social networks -- when surveyed by Jobvite. This really demonstrates how LinkedIn can benefit you, as well as Twitter and Facebook, so make sure you get in the early and build your platform.
5. Stay On The Radar
If you are on someone’s radar, you are likely to be considered for any potential opportunities that fit your skills. How can you do this? Social media is one way, particularly using LinkedIn. I'm not talking about following and using LinkedIn to gain information on colleagues and employers, but this is taking it one step further. If you can demonstrate your knowledge and passion for your chosen career path, it can keep you in mind with those who could give you the opportunity to step up in your career. Rather than wait for an interview to show this off, start now. If you show you have this passion before an opportunity even appears, it will show that you mean it and this can do wonders for you later on. You could even consider starting a blog.
These may seem like things you can put off, or something that won't actually benefit you down the road, but I can tell you that they will and this is the advice that career strategists will give you. If you implement these tips, you will benefit and end up standing out from the crowd in the long run.
Photo credit: shutterstock.com/g/Freedomz