The Millennial’s Guide to Building a Career

millennial career

This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Michael Deane.

Entitled, narcissistic, and lazy. That’s how the world sees millennials.

Oh, and let’s not forget – as avocado-on-toast obsessed, fancy coffee enthusiasts too. Not exactly a flattering reputation.

On top of it all, some employers even complain that millennials are demanding at work, blaming social media for puffing up their self-image and giving them an exaggerated sense of self-importance.

But generalization and gossip aside, millennials are currently the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. In other words, one out of three Americans working or looking for work is a member of this demographic cohort.

So, given that our future rests on you and your fellow millennials, let’s discuss some career-building tips that will help you land decent jobs that will pay in more than just experience.

building a career

Identify Your Goals

Not everybody expects the same thing from their job. Some people’s motivation is a big fat paycheck, while others are more willing to work for a company that shares a similar set of values and beliefs.

Set your priorities and ask yourself what kind of work you’d enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis. Don’t forget that 8 hours or more a day can be a real drag if you’re stuck in a dead-end job that’s not fulfilling – even when the salary is good.

However, once you’re clear on what you want and don’t want, as well as what your dream job is, be prepared to lower the bar for your first two or three jobs.

These should be mostly perceived as a means of learning the ropes, polishing your skills, and acquiring valuable knowledge. And even an unpaid internship, combined with a side gig which will put food on the table, can be a good idea until you qualify for a good job that requires a certain level of experience.

networking event

Leverage the Power of Networking

Your network is one of your most valuable resources when it comes to looking for a job. Did you know that 70% of jobs aren’t listed as well as that 85% of positions are filled through networking and recommendations?

But don’t despair! Your alleged smartphone and social media addiction will come in handy when it comes to your career.

Namely, you can take advantage of all those social media platforms that you use for food-stagramming as well as to share and like memes and filtered images for something else other than fun and visual appeal.

By expanding your network and connecting with others on a professional basis, you can advance your career.

Here are a couple of tips on how to do that:

  • Sign up for LinkedIn. This social media network for professionals is a must if you want to connect with other people from your industry and strike up some meaningful business relationships. But it’s important to engage with others and be proactive.
  • Remove anything inappropriate from your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. This doesn’t mean that your posts should be devoid of any personality and humor, but make sure that nothing you wouldn’t like your employer to see ends up on your social media profiles.
  • Connect with your fellow alumni. This can be an excellent way to expand your network, as fellow graduates of your alma mater can help you keep pace with the latest industry trends and share valuable insider information about new job postings in their companies.

Apart from online networking, you should also use every opportunity offline to meet new people from your line of work and connect with them.

For example, if you’re among the lucky ones who don’t have to put up with the dreadful nine to five and enjoy the benefits of a flexible schedule and telecommuting, you can hit your local coworking space.

Not only will you be able to eliminate potential distractions such as Netflix or taking a short nap in your comfy armchair, but you’ll also have an opportunity to meet different creative people and get some new business ideas.

Find a Mentor

It’s important to have someone experienced and well-versed in navigating the complex and ever-changing ecosystem of the business world by your side. This person can be your former college professor, boss, someone whom you hold in high regard professionally, or an expert business coach.

You can greatly benefit from their experience and expertise, and they can offer you valuable advice related to your career path or your new business idea.

Sometimes simply having someone to talk about business over a cup of coffee can be enough to help you broaden your horizons and set you in the right direction.

Build Your Personal Brand

In an age of influencers and brands, it’s essential to establish yourself as an authority in your field. You need to convince people that you’re worth being given an opportunity.

Start by creating your portfolio and updating your LinkedIn with examples of your work. It’s also a good idea to ask your employers and existing clients to give you recommendations or put in a good word for you with their networks.

Attending industry events, meetups, and seminars is also a great way to connect with others and draw their attention to yourself. Once you feel confident, you should apply as a speaker at these events and make sure to offer your unique perspective on things to your audience. This will help you cement your reputation and get word of mouth going.

However, if you suffer from stage fright or don’t feel competent enough yet, then sharing your opinions on relevant topics and helping other people with your tips and advice in different LinkedIn and Facebook groups can be your stepping stone towards building your own brand.

millennial career

Focus on Your Talent

It’s true that “do what you love” seems like a common-sense tip, but it’s much better to identify your talent and build your career around it.

Why? Because, like it or not, we’re not always endowed with the right set of skills for being painters, pianists, data scientists, or marine biologists.

Instead of pushing your agenda and trying to take your passion or hobby to the next level by turning it into a job, make sure that you have objectively analyzed your skills and talents.

This isn’t supposed to discourage you from following your passions. However, if you’re not excelling at the thing you enjoy doing, then maybe it’s a better idea to regroup and start relying on you what you’re good at when it comes to building your career.

Launching your career in such a fierce and saturated job market can be tough, but luckily, as a millennial, you’re very well equipped with what the modern world and companies need. The trick is to recognize your advantages, work hard, and follow these simple tips.

Michael Deane

Michael Deane has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle, or catch up with him on Twitter.

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