The sooner you learn certain things as a young professional, the sooner you will be on your way to achieving overall professional and personal wellness. Start with these tips to get you on the right track by age 25.
For new grads and people entering the corporate world:
1. Forget and remember everything you learned. Forget the textbooks because they’re ideal for tests and exams, not so much the “real world.” The books don’t teach about politics and pecking order at a company. Understanding tact and how to sell your ideas internally are almost more important than the ideas themselves.
2. If you use someone as a reference, ask permission and then let them know they may be contacted after your interview.
3. You don’t need to add the word “RESUME” to the top of your resume. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
4. Don’t be the person that finishes the pot of coffee and doesn’t make a new one.
5. Talking on a speakerphone is only acceptable if you sell speakerphones and you’re showing the features.
6. Being young is an asset and a detriment. Growing up “connected” is a huge asset. While all of us old folks are trying to wrap our heads around the change in the past ten years, you just lived it. It’s also intimidating for many industry lifers and veterans. If you act or the think you know more than them, they will work ten times harder to ensure you don’t get heard because you “don’t know your place.” Experience, as in tenure, doesn’t mean much these days when industries get upended and go through fundamental changes. It used to be you out in your time, paid your dues and eventually you got an office with a window. Now a lot of people are seeing “young people” get the office, want to remove them all together or are now managed by someone 20 years their junior. Nothing wrong with any of these changes, but it’s a giant mind screw to the system. I love a system that rewards productivity versus age, but Millenials is a term that is used in code to say “young people we don’t like.”
7. Be on time. Meetings, appointments, lunches. Being there when you said you’d be says “I value your time.” If it’s unavoidable that you’ll be late, let them know.
8. BCC’ing someone on an email is a dangerous game, be ready if they don’t realize they’ve been blind-copied and reply-to-all.
9. Use Reply-to-all only in rare circumstances and make sure you weren’t BCC’d.
10. Looking at your phone when someone is talking to you or presenting at a meeting is the ultimate insult. If you have to take a call or answer a text/email, excuse yourself for a moment. Just because we’re in a digital world, doesn’t mean we can forget common courtesy and manners.
11. If you bring your lunch, someone will eventually steal it.
12. Don’t microwave fish in the lunch room. Hard pass on the popcorn too.
13. Try to leave the office at lunch. Go for a walk, eat at the park, something that gets you moving.
14. Don’t be known as the person that says “Hump Day” “TGIF” or answer “Too short” when asked how your weekend was.
15. Office Space is not only one of the best comedies of all-time, some would argue it’s more of a documentary. Watch it, if only for the printer scene.
16. If you update your LinkedIn profile, everyone will know you’re looking for a new job.
17. Find your passion but realize it’s a privilege. Finding out what you love in this world can be a very long process. It’s ok to work, in the pursuit of finding that thing. Doesn’t mean you’re going to make six figures in your passion, but building your career while figuring out what that passion is, is pursuing your passion if that makes sense.
18. Not everyone who is friendly likes you and not everyone who is harsh hates you. Some of the best bosses are the ones who challenge you because they see your potential.
19. Nobody knows what they want to be when they grow up and no one has it all figured out. Don’t worry because you haven’t yet. Neither have I.
20. Relationships are everything. Remember that person at College who helped you out unconditionally? On time for group projects, didn’t talk about others behind their backs? Well, a workplace is like a school but you get paid. There are cliques, jocks, geeks, weirdos, awesome people. Be the person you liked at school. And if someone starts talking behind someone’s back, when you leave, you’ll be the next topic.
21. Your quarterly performance review will happen once every three years.
22. There is no such thing as a probation period. Your work will always be judged and graded against others and expectations. Work accordingly.
23. Go to your industry events. Networking is the investment in your future job you don’t know you need yet.
24. You are always an employee when it comes to your behaviour. Conferences, off-site meetings, Holiday parties are all places where people don’t think they’re “at work” but impressions are made more there than most places. It doesn’t matter how often you show up at work on time, if all people can think about is you throwing up on the sidewalk in Vegas after “ClosetCon 2017” sponsor party at Omnia.
25. You’re always an employee virtually. Just because you don’t name your employer on your Twitter account, a quick LinkedIn search finds it out. Don’t Tweet/Snap/Post anything you don’t want to see on a billboard with your boss, your client and your mom driving by.
26. Learn how to golf. If you don’t you’ll be in a group with the VP of Finance who really wants to win the company tournament and there won’t be enough mulligans to save your reputation.
27. Learn to enjoy eating sushi. It’s the most social business dinner.
28. Most vacancies are never advertised. They’re filled by people who know the best candidate.
29. Projects will take twice as long, at twice the budget, with 50% of the predicted returns.
30. Be kind to everyone. It’s not because they may influence or help/hurt you in the future, it’s because the world needs more kindness overall. Be especially kind to the Admin Assistant. They are the ones that really make companies run and can make your life heaven or hell. (I know, I was one).
31. Leave work every day with your head held high. Integrity isn’t a renewable resource.
32. Don’t stop learning because you’ve finished school. The last thing I wanted to do after graduating was to read a book or learn something. However, the day you stop having a willingness to learn is the day you stop getting smarter. The older I get, the more I realize, the less I know. I was at my peak of knowledge at around 24 (if you ask my mom, she’d probably say 17) and every year since I get more aware, gain more wisdom and better than I was last year.