Without asking, parents, family, neighbors, and everyone else will offer young adults their unsolicited opinions and advice about your job search and career. They mean well. Unfortunately, although their intentions are honorable, their guidance is sometimes questionable. Here is some contrarian takes on what people starting their careers should do. Be prepared; your parents and relatives may disagree.
Stand Up For Yourself
Just because you haven’t been in the workplace for a ‘hot minute’ doesn’t mean you can’t advocate for yourself. You’re in an awkward position. Almost everyone around you is older, and you don’t want to make waves. Conflict is uncomfortable. You’ll have to get accustomed to talking with senior-level people to succeed in your career.
Before you speak up, get a lay of the land. You want to find out which folks are important and can make things happen and those who couldn’t care less about your situation. Feel out the vibe of who would be a strong ally, mentor and champion of your causes.
No one else will do it for you if you don’t ask for a raise, lateral transfer, or better assignments. Don’t use a combative or accusatory tone when you speak up. Think of how you’d like your boss to talk to you, and use that demeanor.
Over time you will feel comfortable speaking with managers. People will notice you and the cutting-edge career-making assignments will be offered. The more you speak up, the greater your visibility becomes.
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Pace yourself. In large bureaucratic organizations, it’s hard to enact change. If action isn’t immediately taken on your requests, ideas and suggestions, don’t think they were dismissed. Usually, there is an internal hierarchy that needs to consider and review new policies and programs. Politely follow-up to track the progress.
Switch Jobs When It’s Right
Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers were taught to take a job and stay with the company for an extended period. Your parents will brag that they worked at the same place for over twenty years. For both generations, if someone left their position only after a couple of years, they’d be derided as a ‘job hopper.’
It’s different now. If you feel that you’re not learning, growing and advancing, ask for a conversation with your direct manager to find out what plans they have for your future within the firm. If you are unsatisfied, it is perfectly acceptable to start searching for a new job.
The next role should offer better opportunities for growth and development, more money, a higher title, and a sense of purpose and meaning with a firm that shares your values. This doesn’t mean you should incessantly switch jobs as it could work against you. If you move too often, interviewers may become leery over why you can’t keep a job. Make sure that the reasons for quitting are valid and thought through.
At each new company, you want to cultivate a mutually benefiting network of people who can continually help with your career objectives. Reciprocate with advice and guidance when asked by others within your network. You’ll continue to learn new technologies, gain additional skills, and progress toward your long-term goals.
Go Into The Office Almost Every Day
Gen-Zers generally want to work remotely. The reasons make sense. You have more time, can enjoy a social life, don’t have to commute three hours roundtrip, and have autonomy over your day. It sounds like a sweet setup.
Despite the benefits, you should go into the office five days a week for the sake of your long-term career. It’s essential to learn how things work from the inside. You can find mentors, advocates and like-minded work-friends. There is the opportunity to find new friends now that you’ve lost contact with high school acquanitances and college buddies scattered across the country.
Proximity bias will give the young adults a halo effect. Since managers and executives see them daily, they’ll get juicy assignments. Compared to their peers, who are dots in a box on zoom call, the in-office people will gain the lion’s share of attention.
Socializing Can Wait
You won’t like this piece of advice. Give it all you got for the first few years of starting your career. Put in the time and energy. Learn as much as possible. Take on challenges. Work nights and weekends if needed. This isn’t hustle-porn; it’s reality.
You had four years of fun at college. Four years of working hard balance things out. Putting in the effort is like investing in the stock market or buying cryptocurrencies. You risk putting in all the time, missing out on fun with friends, and not progressing as you’d hoped.
There is also a likely chance that the time you invested places you far ahead of the pack. You’ll be head and shoulder above your peers. When you are young and have energy, it’s the right time to do what it takes to succeed. It gets much more complicated as you age, gain more responsibilities, and start a family. Your future self will thank you for all your hard work and efforts when you’re sitting at the beach, retired in your forties.
Don’t Only Shoot For Top Marquee-Brand Companies
When you work for a top firm such as Goldman Sachs, Apple, Google or Amazon, your family will be proud, friends will be impressed, and being with the company gives you bragging rights and a certain social status. The challenge is that when you work for a gigantic global corporation with tens of thousands of workers, you will be told to stay in your swim lane. You will work on one sliver of a project. That is fine, and you could become an expert in a niche.
The other side of the equation is to take a risk and join a small, fast-growing company. At startups and growth companies, you will be able to juggle multiple jobs. Every day you will learn, stretch yourself and grow. Your confidence will improve. You’ll likely interact with management, top executives, and premiere clients. The experience will make you feel comfortable speaking with senior-level people in the future. You’ll cultivate a reputation for being a fast-track star. Soon you’ll be highly sought after within the organization and recruited by other companies.
Move Back Home
After paying several hundred thousand dollars for tuition or having burdensome loans, you need to start earning and saving money. Move back home. I know you don’t like this idea. Unfortunately, your generation is forced to cope with runaway inflation, exorbitant apartment prices, and everyday expenses that are incredibly high. When you add in your iPhone, clothes, food, vacations, going out to dinner, shows, concerts, dates and sporting events, it leaves you with a tiny paycheck after taxes are taken out.
If you move back home, you can bank your check and not worry about living off of credit cards that charge gangster interest rates on top of your already burdensome tuition debt payments. You won’t be able to put aside money for investments and retirement.
With the cost savings of being at home, you will have extra cash flow instead of debt. The move may bruise your ego and social life for a while; however, it will set you up financially and pay off in the long run.