As Millennials enter the workforce and Gen Z rapidly approaches behind them, it’s a scary thought for young professionals (me included) to be considered part of the “workforce.” We’re all sitting here asking ourselves how the hell do we land that stellar job after graduation?
As we study our brains out in college thinking “all right, once I get this degree, I’ll be set.” HA! Joke’s on us, it doesn’t work like that in the real world and you have to put in a whole load of effort to even get your foot in the door or your resume on that recruiter’s desk. There is no magic HR fairy recruiter just waiting to plop a job in your lap — you gotta get your hands dirty and your networking grind on.
So, where do you start? Take a look at these career tips EVERY young professional should have/know/and be able to do when recruiters are looking for them:
Raise your hand if you’re still not sure what your resume should look like. (I will raise my hand in this scenario). To be honest, you’re taught this A LOT in college, but how many of you are actually implementing this into your resume writing? Your resume is your first impression with whatever company you are applying for. Better yet, it’s not even an impression on a human. Say what? Yeah, that’s right…most companies will file the thousands of resumes they receive through an ATS (application tracking software) before it even crosses a human eye. So, that generic resume you have isn’t going to cut it. While it may take extra time to tailor your resume to the job description, it will be worth it in the long run.
DO YOU HAVE A BUSINESS CARD?
“Have you ever heard of email?” is the reaction I typically get. So, yes, I’ve heard of email and I use it religiously. I understand it’s the digital age and we are known for being the tech generation. That still doesn’t change the fact that business cards make a better impact and impression over some email that likely will get sent straight to spam or lost in the bajillions of emails business managers or HR pros get a day. “Will it get thrown in the trash?” Great question…maybe, but the chances of them looking at it before they toss it are more likely than someone opening up a random ass email sent to them.
GET A COACH
I’m not talking about your high school volleyball coach, although they might have been great at sports, they aren’t what you should search for as a career mentor. This person should be a business mentor, someone well connected in your community and business-minded. It’s easy to get lost, overwhelmed or distracted when you don’t have someone guiding you. Reach out to past professors or someone you work with to help you stay on track with goals and aspirations. Plus, they are a GREAT motivator when you’re feeling like all you’re doing is failing (which might be a lot as a young prof just starting out). Remember J.K. Rowlings got turned down 12 times before she made her big break. Don’t fret, failure is a lesson within a blessing.
SHOOT ME AN EMAIL
LEARN EMAILING ETIQUETTE! (Did I say it loud enough for the people in the back?) As a generation who gets thrown under the bus because we write how we text (*facepalm*)…it’s about time we change that. You want to be noticed and taken seriously? Stop the texting lingo and learn how to write a well thought out (grammatically correct) email. I know we aren’t all well-spoken and English majors here, but have you ever heard of Grammarly or spell check? It’s definitely worth the FREE investment to help you further your career. Also, a tip for those who didn’t learn this rule: it’s considerate and professional to email a person back within 24 hours.
DIDN’T YOU GET MY VOICEMAIL?
First of all, you’re interviewing for a potential job, the hiring manager does not want to hear your middle school giggling voicemail as they leave you a message. Time to put the big kid pants on and record a new one. Secondly, if you ALREADY have a job and your boss calls you, what are they going to think if they hear little Suzie Pigtails laughing in the background of your voicemail? Time for a new one. Lastly, CLEAR OUT your voicemail inbox. You can bet your boss will be pissed if they can’t reach you and your voicemail inbox is full OR, even worse, a recruiter can’t leave you a voicemail about a potential interview. They don’t have all the time in the world to keep calling you and dealing with your stupid “full inbox.”
So, what is this rule and how can you apply it? It’s also known as the Pareto Principle. Stating that 20% of the inputs or activities are responsible for 80% of the outcomes or results. Still not making sense? Apply it to your life as a young professional. You’re eager to try EVERYTHING and do everything. But if you’re spreading yourself too thin — you’re not going to get anywhere. Focus on your priorities and spend your time there, not chasing those false leads. This will help with your time management and in achieving those goals you set.
TIME IS MONEY…AND NONREFUNDABLE
Time is the most precious gift given to you and if you aren’t using it wisely and spending it on things that matter, you’ll end up in a graveyard of failure. It’s time to buckle down and learn how to be efficient and automate where you can. Stop wasting time on little things like what you should wear in the morning. Solution = Plan your outfit the night before. Feeling pressed for time? Solution = Prioritize and organize. A planner is your new best friend. Once you’re in a position, that company is literally PAYING for your time. So, don’t waste their money and get your priorities together.
TIME TO SCORE A GOAL
Did you know there’s a right and wrong way to set goals? People set goals ALL the time, from those New Year’s resolutions to that summer bod dream. But if you aren’t setting your goals the RIGHT way…how are you supposed to hit that bullseye? A good resource for any professional at any age is to use the SMART goals method. This will help you stay on track, focused forward and reaching each of those mini-milestones to achieve your overall goal. I was once told by a professor that “a dream is only a dream until you write it down, then it’s goal,” and if that didn’t hit you like an inspirational rocket, then you are definitely needing to revamp your goal setting strategy.
QUARTER LIFE CRISIS? IT’S A THING…
Not a lot of people like to talk about it… you know that thing… “having a meltdown.” I’m not talking about your “oh shit, I got a bad grade, I’m gonna fail” type of meltdown. I’m talking about a full-blown mental breakdown. You’re young and for some reason, we get this pressure put on us to have EVERYTHING figured out as quickly as we possibly can. I don’t know about any of you, but that seems a bit intense for a twenty-something-year-old. So, if you’re like me, I’m here to tell you that IT’S OKAY! You DO NOT need to have the rest of your life planned and every little detail figured out.
We get caught up in the fact of breaking our backs to put in all the work we can to land that amazing job or take on a crap ton of work at this brand new job because you feel like you HAVE TO. That’s not the case to some extent. While you do have to put in your fair share of the work, especially at the beginning of your career while you are building up that credibility….I’m saying…no. I’M TELLING YOU. DO NOT BURN YOURSELF OUT.
I can’t stress this enough, mental wellness is something you need to be aware of. It’s okay to take those mental health days and just breath. Don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle and forget to take care of yourself and your brain.
About Maren Hogan:
Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer, writer and business builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. Founder and CEO of Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and outsourcing and thought leadership to HR and Recruiting Technology and Services organizations internationally, Hogan is a consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques. She has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies and been a thought leader in the global recruitment and talent space. You can read more of her work on Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and The Red Branch Media Blog.