Last week in this blog post I shared what I do for work and that I’ve been working on content centered around career advice – like a mentor via A Mix of Min! The feedback I received from you made me even more excited for this content vertical! I’m so happy it resinated with such a large chunk of you. All career posts will live under the ‘lifestlye’ –> ‘career’ tab on the nav bar or access it here.
Being in our 20’s, we have our whole career ahead of us. Although we’ve been putting in years of work, we’re still very young in Corporate America and our careers. While we may “have our whole career head of us” our 20’s set the foundation for our careers for success down the road. Today I’m sharing 6 Career Moves to Make in Your 20’s.
1. DON’T FORGET TO THINK BIG PICTURE
If your ears perked up about a new position within your department or a different role at a new company, weighing the long term results of this change is very important. I often have seen people get very excited for the short-term because change can be wicked exciting. Who doesn’t want to ditch their current job headaches and get that % salary increase in their wallets now? Those are short-term solutions to a long-term decision.
When a new position presents itself, I suggest always asking yourself “where do I picture myself in six months, two years and five years?”. Think through each of these questions with this new career opportunity set aside, making it a neutral reflection. By doing this, you’re allowing yourself to think through your career ambitions without the short-term excitement creating hazziness.
Thinking through this big picture allows you to plan your career strategically and ensure your short term decisions are feeding these ambitions.
2. UNDERSTAND HOW YOU LEARN AND COMMUNICATE IT
Two years ago, I started a new job. I was learning about a new target audience, new industry, new competitors, new products – lot of new things! I also shifted from in-person meetings at a small company with one office to meeting via webcam with people spread globally. One thing I quickly noticed is that meeting virtually means I need to own how I learn and be more vocal about it. I’m a visual learner so when meeting in-person, grabbing a marker and whiteboarding is natural. It’s not as natural when you’re meting virtually through a computer screen, so I just need to be more vocal when I need to see something mapped our on a whiteboard.
The same can apply to you in any office situation. I suggest understanding how you learn, owning it and ensuing that no matter what the environment is, you pivot the conversation to a way that works for you.
3. EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS
After getting your feet wet in the working world, you may realize the job you’ve worked so hard and put a lot of finances towards is ultimately not for you. That’s okay! Your 20’s is the decade to explore what you are interested in and what you see yourself doing in the years to come.
If you feel this way, my suggestion is to leverage your peers. Look beyond your job within your current company and seek out team members in jobs that spark your interest. Ask them to lunch to chat about their typical day or job shadow them for an afternoon.
Once you prove yourself within a company, can really speak to why you want to make this career change and what you can bring to the table.
4. KNOW YOUR WORTH
Before accepting a job offer, know your worth. One slice of this pie is researching the salary range for the title within your geography. You can do this through many different websites, but a starting point is just googling “job title XYZ salary in XYZ city”. This will allow you to see a salary range and use this to know one piece of the puzzle for your worth and ultimately, confidently counter.
You should also factor in what you can bring to the table from your experience, the urgency as to which the company needs to fill the position and your total salary package (base, bonus, 401K matching, commuter benefits, HSA contributions, etc.).
At a point in my career where I was open to a new job opportunity, they started at a certain rate and I countered because I knew I was worth more. Through this counter, they went up by 25%. 25%! That means, they stated a salary range and the ending point was 25% higher than what they said.
Always keep in mind that company’s are running a business and use negotiation tactics. They aren’t going to come out of the gates blazing with the high end of their budget for the role. They are going to start low, so be prepared with knowing your worth $$$ before any phone screening, interview or potential offer call.
Another thing to keep top of mind is the percent increase in salary this new role or this new job is offering over your current job. While every situation is different, keep in mind that accepting a role with a lateral pay will keep you within that pay range for awhile, until you either 1 – move companies again or 2 – move up in the company which both take a chunk of time. [NO matter what a recruiter tells you about “quickly being promoted/moving up”… they all say that]. I suggest doing that “big picture” thinking again before accepting an offer. Will this pay (with the average 3-5% annual increase), bring you to where you want to be for a couple years.. at least until you get promoted or move to another company?
One other thing to note is that there is an 18.2% (!!!) wage gap between men and women. There is no shame in countering a job offer and getting paid your value… just be prepared to justify your counter amount. And honestly, if a company gives me vibes of frowning upon this [never had that happen, but just noting..] than it’s simply not a place I want to work!
. Remember.. after countering for one of my jobs, I did this and my offer was raised by 25%! That’s tens of thousands (!!!) more than if I settled with their first offer and it’s now set me up to only increase this as my career progresses with annual reviews, promotions and company movement.
5. KEEP UP-TO-DATE RECORDS
When it comes time to sitting down and update your resume, you can hit a wall. How do you go back to projects you completed a year ago? Resumes should have quantitative data (like increased email CTO rates by X% or exceeding sales bookings by X% in Q1, surpasses goal for event registrations by X%, etc) and thinking of these important nuggets of information is hard if you don’t maintain records on an ongoing basis.
To maintain my records, I update my resume on a 1/2 year basis. Although I’m happy with my current job and am not actively job searching, I’m now prepared with an opportunity arises and I have the impressive, golden quantitative nuggets readily available. In the past, I’ve also done this my simply updating my LinkedIn job description so I can quickly copy and paste it to my resume. You could also keep a Google Sheet or a notebook that you update on a quarterly cadence. Whatever works for you!
While it may seem like a hassle in the moment, you’ll be so thankful you had a system in place to maintain your quantitative job accomplishments later in your career.
6. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF COMPANY PAID LEARNING
From accreditations, certificates or attending conferences – take advantage of getting these while in your current role. Companies want you to become a larger asset to them, so expressing interest in a certification or conference and then explaining the cost benefit allows you to bring more to the table in your current role while also boosting your resume. At my first company, I got certified in a product that’s vital for my career and now at my current company, my manager supports me in attending marketing conferences all the time!
If you feel like your company is too small or won’t provide budget for that… is that an assumption? Do your research, communicate the benefits your manager/company will receive from this learning experience and be passionate about it. Company’s should support employee learning whether small or large.
I hope these 6 career moves to make in your 20’s was helpful. I’d love to know your #1 piece of advice in he comments below!
And we can’t leave a blog post without mentioning some fashion, right? Below you can shop some of my work wear favorites.
SHOP WORK WEAR FAVORITES