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5 Career Tips on How to Become a
Successful Professional in Your 20's

Employability Skills

As a graduate, instead of jumping straight into a job once you complete your degree, you should be looking for a career in which to find a base.

You are going to need to use the skills you acquired through your time at college, communication and interpersonal skills for example, to help you find and develop your career, and turn it into a lasting job.

In this article, we examine five important steps to take to set yourself up for success; steps to take even while only in your 20’s. You’ll be surprised how being prepared early in life can lead to rewards further down the line!


Career Tips

Image courtesy of Flickr

1. Set Goals from the Start

Priscilla Claman, president of Boston-based Career Strategies, advises meeting with your manager to identify your goals for the future within the first 90 days of being hired.

The list of goals that you should discuss include who you would like to meet in the industry, what you hope to learn, and what kind of work you hope to accomplish. This way, you make a professional impression on your boss. Not only will you be seen as someone they can count on, but also as someone who sees a bright future ahead for themselves.

While at work, you should keep a small notebook to record your achievements so that you can report back to your boss on a quarterly basis. This way, you can show your supervisor all the work you have accomplished and get feedback that you can learn from. Monitoring your progress and accomplishments establishes your professionalism and your care for the job you are employed to do.


2. Always Continue to Learn

Learning is not just for college. In order to become a successful professional, you must become a lifelong learner. Continuing to learn and grow can not only make you a better person, but it can also help you get a step ahead in your career.

Certifications relevant to your industry look great on a resume and make you look more desirable to employers. In fact, at least a third of employers have difficulty filling positions because of a lack of relevant experience and industry-based certifications. By expanding your base of knowledge, you become a better candidate and get a leg up on the competition.

You can choose to take a class on an industry topic or you may choose to get training for general work skills, such as a class on PowerPoint or public speaking. To determine which class to take, check out some relevant job descriptions and look at the list of desired skills. For example, if you were a dental hygienist, look up a dental hygienist's job description, compare your skills to the job listing and determine where you need the most improvement.

There are a few places where you can look for classes in order to broaden your knowledge. You could first check with your local community college if you learn best in a classroom environment. You can also look for online classes on websites like Coursera and Udemy. They offer a wide range of classes, provide certificates, and are often free or very inexpensive.

You should also check with your current employer before you enroll in any course. Some companies will pay for your training, especially if they believe it will make you better at your current job. Who knows, your boss may even be able to suggest some relevant courses for you. This way, you can be sure that you are spending your time developing the right skills.


3. Connect with Mentors

Most newly hired workers are too nervous to talk with mentors, or even consider the idea of a mentorship.

However, a mentor will share their experience with you to help you learn and this will highlight your desire to both learn and work harder at your job. This way you get specialized training and can reach your career goals even faster.

The best type of mentor to reach out to is someone currently employed in a job that you see yourself doing in 10 years’ time. Your mentor can help establish new opportunities for you in your chosen field and even help you talk to other industry-based professionals who can help you develop your career.


4. Improve Your Network

Networking isn’t just a word to toss around: it’s an important skill that those just beginning their career must get good at to help them find better work and mentors. Plus, it really helps to know people in an industry when you’re just starting out. 

Networking can play a big part in your future, too. When you are looking for a new job, having a contact at a company can be the difference between landing the job and getting passed over. Try to network with people who work in all aspects of your industry. It may also be in your best interest to network with professionals from other industries as well as you never know where your future will take you.


5. Don’t Be Afraid to Journey Out of Your Comfort Zone

Being successful in any field is all about taking risks. You must be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This is the only way to grow as a person and within your career. You can meet new people, learn about all aspects of your industry, and continue to grow your professional career.

The key is to remain open-minded. It is absolutely OK to be hesitant to jump into new situations and this response is only natural. However, it is crucial to remain flexible, especially if you hope to succeed in the ever-changing marketplace. Start out slowly and you will gradually become more and more comfortable exposing yourself to new situations.


Starting a new career can be tough but, hopefully, with these five tips, you can turn yourself into a successful professional, even at your young age.

Believe it or not, starting early and accumulating experience and mentors will help you build a better foundation for yourself in that life-long career you’ve always dreamed of having.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out and build yourself the career you’ve been waiting for!


About the Author


Addison Jenning is an Editor at jobdescriptionswiki.com and an HR manager.

Her profession enables her to do what she loves most: recruit, motivate and contribute to the development of employees, in order for them to be as successful as they can. She oversees the effective and successful execution of the company's internal strategy.

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