How to navigate adult life like a boss, from turning your job into a career, investing your hard-earned money, building relationships and more. Because adulting is not easy.
You may be constantly wondering if your career is on the right track, if you are living your truth or if you’re fulfilling your potential, but trust us that you’re not alone. Not even in the slightest.
There are millions of young professionals around the globe that feel a little lost, a little overwhelmed and possibly a little uninspired.
According to a LinkedIn study from last year, nearly half the professionals they surveyed in their mid to late-30s aren’t even sure what their career path should look like and among those in their early 20s, almost 80 percent considered switching jobs or their career in general.
The lack of a clear career path is what LinkedIn’s career expert Blair Decembrele called “career sleepwalking,” which is essentially going through the motions at your current job.
In fact, Monster.com’s Vicki Salemi said career sleepwalking is the last thing you want to do. Salemi said things should never get to the point where your dislike of your job, your boss and your workplace compels you to start looking for new employment or a new career when you’re in a personal rut.
We’re here to help you avoid sleepwalking through your career and take control of your future.
1. What is your passion, and does this current job fulfill that?
This is the first thing you should always do.
Professionals spend about 90,000 hours of their adult life working, so make it count, said Decembrele.
If things get rough at your current job, maybe “take a step back figure out what is important to you,” she said.
If you don’t have long-term goals, figure out short-term goals. Basically, make some kind of road map before you dig further into your current job or start looking for the next one.
2. Don’t start marketing yourself when you’ve already hit bottom
Salemi used to work in recruiting before she became Monster’s career expert and said it’s a really bad sign if you hate your boss, co-workers and your job.
“It shouldn’t get to that extreme,” she said. “You should always be looking for a job and marketing yourself. Otherwise, you hit this point in your career where you’re in a rut.”
Does this mean you should look even if you love your job? Actually, yes.
Salemi said it’s always better to look when things are going well for you.
“You’re in a position of power if you find a job while you have a job,” she said. “If you get an offer and don’t leave that could mean a raise for you with your current company.”
3. Update your resume regularly and incorporate career planning into your life
This may sound simple, but it’s easier said than done.
Give yourself a daily, weekly, or monthly alert or reminder, so you can actually set aside a small amount of time to update your CV.
“Pick a specific time of the day or week to spend say 15 minutes, make it part of your life,” Salemi said.
Then maybe once a week or once a month casually peruse sites like LinkedIn, Monster and Ladders, she added.
“This is not a five hours every day search,” she said. “Incorporate these things into your day, so it doesn’t consume your life.”
What this does, she said, is allow you to see what your ideal next job or company is, and prepare.
“Then look at skills you should obtain in the coming months, coming years to get that next role,” she said.
Once you know what your goal next position is and if you are lacking in any key areas, she said you can pick up extra projects, volunteer in another division of your company or even take a class to pick up those valuable skills.
4. Network your way in, ask for advice and maybe land a mentor
This works for both those coming out of college looking for a job or those looking to move up.
Decembrele said 70% of professionals get hired at companies where they have a connection.
“Seek out people in your network who have roles you find interesting” and try to invite them to have coffee, she said.
She said you don’t always have to ask for a job, but just pick their brain if they are game.
Also, if they are in your industry and have a higher title that you would like to aspire to someday, ask them how they broke through. What path did they take?
“If you don’t have a mentor, you can find one” this way, she said.
Salemi couldn’t agree more. She said reaching out to people you may not know is also key.
“Maybe keep a spreadsheet of people you would like to and have reached out to for advice,” she said.
5. Get evaluations from your managers and co-workers
You manager is just like you, someone working hard, trying to do their best and help the company.
They may forget to focus on you from time to time, and this especially can be true during review time or after a major project.
A great idea is to reach out on your own accord and try and get feedback if they haven’t reached out first, said Decembrele.
“Ask what worked, what didn’t work and more,” she said.
You can also ask what the positives are to working with you and what you can improve on.
This also goes for co-workers. If you get their positive feedback, that may be a key resource to bring into a potential promotion or raise meeting with your manager.
6. You are your own professional brand
No, we aren’t talking about being an Instagram influencer or anything.
“When you go to conference, sure you rep your company, but also tell people who you are,” Salemi said.
She recommends making personal connections that could come in handy down the road and maybe handing out your personal number or Gmail email to make sure you stay in touch, even if you won’t be working or collaborating with them at your current position.
“Also chat about things outside your job,” she said.
If your company isn’t sending you to events, go yourself to one a month, or every other month.
And after you meet new people in any industry, Salemi said, “The followup is key.”
“Maybe send a thank you note,” she added.
7. Try pursuing a side hustle
This is more for those not satisfied with their current job or looking to switch professions.
Decembrele said starting a side hustle is a great way to check the waters, while also earning a little extra on the side.
She added that more than a third who try find great success with a side hustle.
“It’s a great way to uncover something you may want to do ” full-time, she said. “Also a great way to get the skills you need” to eventually switch.
“Try it on nights and weekends and at your convenience,” she said. “It’s the modern day form of moonlighting.”
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