So you’ve graduated college with that degree you worked so hard for, and now it’s time to find a big-kid job. Is it exciting? It sure is! Is it stressful? Absolutely. The habits you develop in these next few years, and the impressions you make, may very well stay with you through your entire career, so start off on the right foot. Here are a few professional habits you should develop in your twenties.
It’s never too early to start networking in your new job or career field. I have a confession. I dread networking events. I’m typically the one standing in the corner with my closest work friend while we talk more about our dogs than anything work-related. But don’t follow my lead there. Networking is important and is the reason I was able to get my foot in the door in my current field.
Clean Up Your Online Presence
We live in a digital world, meaning much of what prospective employers want to know about you is available right there online. While they may not be able to find out your typing speed from your Facebook page, they will be able to figure out whether you go out drinking every night, whether you know how to spell, and whether you’ve skipped work to go shopping, and then posted about it online. Go through you social media pages and clean out anything a prospective employer wouldn’t be happy to see, then head over to LinkedIn and start creating your online presence there. While LinkedIn isn’t popular for all fields, it’s best to have it ready anyway.
Social media privacy is a difficult thing to balance. While you don’t want strangers to be able to see everything about you, you probably want to show employers that you’re adept at using social media across the board. Especially if that’s going to be part of your new job! So allow them to find you on social media, but keep the personal information private.
Being organized will only be an asset as you move forward in your career. And while most of us probably tout organization when we’re asked our greatest strengths in an interview, your employer will learn pretty quickly whether or not it’s true. From the cleanliness of your desk to your ability to manage your calendar, it’s always best to start mastering organization early.
Dress For the Job You Want
This one is easy for me because I love the self-confidence I get from wearing a great dress with heels. But maybe you’re someone who would rather be in sweatpants. Regardless, you should find a way to dress professionally (without abandoning your personal style). When it comes to the professional world, it’s better to be overdressed. It’s better to show up for an interview in a suit and realize everyone at the company is wearing jeans than to show up in jeans and realize everyone is wearing a suit.
Become a Good Writer
If there is one skill that literally everyone should have, regardless of what career they work in, it is writing. I can’t tell you how many resumes, emails, or letters I have read and cringed because of the spelling and grammar mistakes littered throughout. One of the best ways to become a better writer is to write often, so try to take on writing projects at work, or write in your free time (like on a blog). If you aren’t in a writing-intensive career and really struggle with it, hire someone to look over your resume and cover letter for you when you’re job hunting.
I would recommend anyone in the early stages of their career to take on more than they’re expected to do, and work harder than you think you should have to. Yes, it’s important to value your time and your worth. But the positive impression you’ll leave on your boss and colleagues in those early years will benefit you through your entire career. I think my husband is a great example of this. From the time he started his career, he always volunteered to take on extra projects and did things well outside of his job description because he happened to have a talent for them. He’s worked incredibly hard over the last several years, and I know at times he’s been frustrated with the amount of responsibility that has been given to him, but it has led to quickly rising through the ranks and regularly getting his name in front of the big-wigs at his company
What professional habits do you wish you had mastered earlier?
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