Career Advice for Millennials

Career Advice for Millennials

Career Advice for Millennials

In a 2018 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, Millennials made up 35% of the American workforce, making them the largest age demographic for workers. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2020 they are the largest of any adult age demographic in the U.S. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. This means that they are either just starting out their careers or in the early stages of advancement.

What do Millennials have in common besides their age? Actually quite a bit. As a group, they have the highest percentage of women working, the highest rate of cultural and ethnic diversity, and the highest rate of education. Compared with Generation X, they're not that much more likely to job-hop, and as a group they're about as well off economically as Generation X people were when they were at comparable ages. In the areas of starting households and paying off student debt, though, they're behind. And economic inequality is higher among Millennials than in any other group.

That's a big range of factors. Good career advice for Millennials will be based on how the world of work has changed since Generation X workers were young. But the principles hold true for everyone. It's how they're applied that will depend on the situation of your age group, and on your individual situation. Here are some rules of thumb.

Find a Career You Enjoy

One message that many Millennials hear all the time is to follow their passions and never settle for anything less. While it’s always a bad idea to pursue a career in an area that you hate, fixing on your current passion as a career path isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s important to realize that what you enjoy most will change over time, as it should. In addition to that, any job you have will come with its own ups and downs.

When it comes to finding a career path, fix on your values and on the impact you want to make in the world. Career paths should be exploratory. Jobs can be vehicles for learning what is most important to you through work. Rather than fulfilling "a passion," look to try out responsibilities that energize you and bring you a sense of personal fulfillment. If the main component of your job consists of one or both of those things, you'll be able to evolve a successful and meaningful career.

Focus on Results

While it’s important to be sure that you're performing the tasks that are assigned to you, if you want to advance in your career, it’s important to focus on results that also move you towards your own future goals. This means not only going above and beyond your current job description. It means always being willing to learn the new things that will enable the future you.

Focusing on the results of your projects at work will help you to stand out to your boss. It can help you gain promotions within your company. It also helps you to write a results-oriented resume that can bring you bigger and better job offers from inside or outside your current company.

Take Risks

Now is always the best time to take reasonable risks for your career. This can mean anything, from being willing to work for a small start-up or starting a new career path, to looking for new ways to contribute in your current job. It’s never too late to experiment and begin working on the things that you’ve always wanted to do. Taking risks allows you to continue to grow your skills in ways that make you an appealing candidate for future jobs.

Career Insights for Millennials

While establishing a fulfilling and meaningful career is important for many Millennials, to get there you have to be willing to put in a lot of hard work. You also have to be willing to listen to the advice of those who have come before you. Working with a mentor (or mentors) is a great way to speed up your learning and build your confidence.

Starting at the Bottom

"Starting at the bottom" is an unfortunate expression. People learn what their future opportunities will look like by working where they are. The place where you start is not the bottom, it's the beginning. The beginning may be less interesting than what you envisioned for yourself, which can be frustrating. But it's also a reliable way to get a better understanding of what your true dream job will actually be.

Get to Know Your Colleagues

It’s important to connect with colleagues and other professionals to help you grow in your career. Many people are put off by the idea of networking, because it seems shallow and inauthentic. That's a good instinct. The task ought to be to develop real relationships with people you can learn from, and who can learn from you. These are the types of relationships that will really help you to get your foot in the door when you want to move forward in your career. And, more importantly, some of them will become rich friendships.

Develop Time Management Skills

When you're trying new things, it will always be a challenge to manage your time efficiently. One strategy that will help is to manage your energy carefully. You should devote enough time in your work schedule to perform tasks that require concentration and deep thought while you're fresh. Avoid checking your emails and other lighter tasks during those times. Once you’ve done your “real work,” you’ll be able to move on to other things like meetings, messages, phone calls, etc. You'll be most effective if you can develop the skill of quickly restoring and refreshing at key points every few hours in your day. Even 15 minutes can make a huge difference when repeated over time.

Success Takes Time

Establishing yourself in a fulfilling career takes time and effort. Those are table stakes. What will truly move you along is cultivating an attitude of patient and consistent experimentation, of becoming good at exploring your way into every successive dream job. By thinking strategically about where you want to be in the future, you’ll be able to find and keep a career that both pays the bills and that you enjoy doing.

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