career advice for millenials

Career Advice For Millennials In 2020

Us millennials often cop a bad rap. We’re often seen as entitled, ungrateful, and impatient. But we all know that’s baby boomer B.S.!

As a millenial, you’re probably living in the best time of human history. Failure to grab your career by the horns and own it will be no fault but your own. So in this article I’m going to share some of my BEST career advice tips for millenials:

#1: Chase the skills, not the money

Money follows skills – period. If you want to make bank in the long run of your career, then you need to skill up fast, widely, and early!

A skill is literally something than you can do. Can you run a team? Can you operate and navigate complex analytics software? Can you solve diverse commercial problems? Can you improve operational efficiencies? Can you devise and execute a killer social media strategy?

There’s a tonne of ways you can develop these skills, including:

  • Books
  • Investing in online courses
  • Finding a mentor to reach you
  • Learning from others around you in the workplace
  • Attending events
  • Starting your own project to get hands on experience
  • Online blogs, articles, guides, and free Youtube videos

#2: Align with people and businesses that will provide steep and valuable learning curves

If you work in the same kinds of businesses, you’re not really going to sharpen the saw. And continually sharpening the saw is a CRITICAL strategy for career success.

So when you decide to change careers, don’t just move from one tech company to another. Get outside your box. Everything you learn in one business will help you in your next role, so it’s important to keep diversifying the mix of your business knowledge.

For example, I’ve worked with companies ranging from insurance, activewear manufacturing, digital marketing, mindfulness & meditation, and local plumbers & builders! Understanding how these businesses work makes you a more effective employee.

#3: Invest in yourself with books, courses, guides, events

Some of us millennials think we have all the answers.

If you’re in your early, mid, or late twenties, then you have some answers, but in the scheme of things, you have very few. Your toolbox and bag of tricks is still incredibly green.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not just important to invest in education, it’s absolutely vital for career success. Just because you scored a great job early on doesn’t mean your top stuff, you need to retain the humility of being a student for life.

I practice what I preach. In the last few years I’ve spent $4,000 on paid courses to improve my marketing acumen. This included courses on video marketing, copywriting, email marketing, conversion rate optimisation, and sales.

This strategy isn’t just for millenials! In the company I work for, the C-suite executives all spend time away each year to attend classes and workshops. For example, my current boss (chief marketing officer) spent a week at Harvard doing an intensive workshop on leadership – which no doubt will pay dividends for him.

#4: Get outside the tech bubble

We millennials love tech. Many of us grew up with MSN, and then completely ate up Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Youtube as they rose to popularity. Now for many of us, we aspire to only work for these tech giants, whether its WeWork, Slack, Google, Facebook, AirBnb, or Uber.

But here’s the deal…there’s millions of other companies out there! Well, maybe not millions, but there’s so much opportunity outside of tech it’s crazy. Whether its a marketing agency, a bank, a law firm, a construction company – get inside it and learn its economics. Understand the industry and all of its facets.

Almost all companies are becoming more technological and digital anyway, so you’ll have the added advantage of picking up some broader business acumen, as well as getting on-the-tools tech experience along the way.

For example, I do currently work for a business which would be considered “tech”. It’s an Australian aggregator based website for insurance policies. And let’s get this straight, there is nothing fun or sexy about insurance. But the combined technology and digital-first aspect, combined with product/legal/commercial/data/marketing understandings, and industry knowledge, has put me in great stead for my career.

#5: Learn how to manage, save, and invest your money

I guess this isn’t so much career advice as it is life advice.

And let me caveat this by saying I’m FAR from having all the answers. I’m just like you on this never ending quest for wisdom and truth.

But when I was retrenched from my first professional job as a copywriter, I learnt some harsh lessons about money, including:

1) Aim to save a LOT, because you’ll almost never save as much as you plan anyway
2) If you don’t save it, you will spend it
3) Money is made in days if not weeks and lost in seconds
4) You need to track your spending every single day (I use a google sheet)
5) You need to find some way of investing your money to grow it long term (I invest in stocks)
6) If you can freelance to make money on the side then you 100% should
8) Newton’s law of probability states that if something can go wrong, it will: which for me meant when I didn’t have a job and income, then my car needed a service and the exhaust pipe fell off costing me over a thousand dollars (that was a bad day)
9) $1 in the bank is worth $5 yet to be paid to you (in short, the money you have NOW is precious, use it wisely)
10) There are ALWAYS unforeseen expenses. Plan for them and save aggressively

#6: Get inside a medium to large sized business and get a deep understanding on how they work

For me this included:

  • Finance team
  • Legal & compliance team
  • Product team
  • Call centre operations
  • Product & UX teams
  • Data science teams
  • Commercial teams
  • Senior executive team
  • Other arms of the marketing team

#7: Don’t take your job for granted

I know for me personally, I’m incredibly impatient. I want more money, a better job, more cash to invest, more savings, a better car, a more challenging position, and I want it now!

And there’s nothing wrong with wanting any of those things, but it’s important to be patient. Just because your job isn’t fulfilling you, don’t become complacent. Don’t phone it in. Your current job is paying you a much needed wage, and there is more than likely a queue of people behind you who would GLADLY take it away from you.

Like I said earlier about savings, where $1 in the bank is worth $5 coming at the end of the month, the same goes for your job. The job you currently have is worth 100 promising job interviews. A great job is not easily come by, so don’t take the idea of jumping ship lightly. Which ties in nicely to the next piece of advice…

#8: Understand that the job market is incredibly competitive, and increasingly so!

Getting a job isn’t easy. The job market is incredibly competitive, and it’s only going to become increasingly so! Every new thousands of graduates flood the job market looking for full-time work. They are competing with each other, and in time, they will be competing with you.

If you were a competitive athlete, you’d work on your form, develop your fitness, increase your strength – in short, you’d always be striving to be better. You need to think of your career in the same way.

You always need to be sharpening your saw – building on your existing skills, broadening your skillset into new areas, picking up more knowledge, reading more books, networking with people within your company to understand all of the pieces of the puzzle. It’s a never ending journey, but it pays off to be curious!

#9: The older people in your organisation have incredible knowledge, take advantage of that

I’ll admit that I’m honest of falling victim to this. At times, older people in a company can appear cantankerous and out of touch, but don’t be fooled, senior members of an organisation usually have an incredible wealth of expertise that you can learn from.

Take for example my last manager. He was about ten years my senior, had worked for a few companies in India before moving to Australia, where he held senior analytics roles for one of our major Australian airlines, as well as two different though large and well known companies in the financial services & personal banking space. Contrast that with me who had, before my current position, worked only in a digital marketing agency for 16 months, and a wholefoods distribution business for three years before that.

While he and I had respectful disagreements on many things related to my actual role, I learnt incredible things from him, including:

  • Methodologies and approaches to tasks and projects
  • Patience & perspective
  • Work-ethic
  • The important of get up off your desk to talk to people and not hiding behind email
  • The importance of taking on more responsibility and developing new skills
  • And so many other aspects related to my job which are now day-to-day habits

#10: Develop your wider business acumen

One of the best things you can do to propel your career forward, is improve your wider business acumen.

What I mean by this, is that it’s super important to understand how all of the pieces of a business function together. That way, you understand how changes made in your department are felt all throughout the business.

This gives you an incredible perspective as to how to drive cross-department collaboration in order to drive a significant business improvement or result. And take it from me, most of the biggest gains made by businesses don’t come from one department working in isolation, but from two or more departments working closely together to leverage their teams and expertise.

In light of that, if you work at a medium to large company, business, or even a corporation, then you want to go out of your way to make friends with and learn from people in the following departments:

  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • HR
  • Legal
  • Compliance
  • Finance
  • IT
  • Product
  • Data science
  • Commercial
  • Product

I believe that working with people from the above teams has given me incredible perspective on how to drive results in the business I currently work in. It’s made me more effective at my job, a better communicator because I understand their departments and their thinking, and I can talk to their language, and has set me up for success in more senior roles in the future.

#11: Be prepared for massive change

My grandfather grew up poor in rural Australia. He had to leave school in year 10 to work and help support his family. He then fought in World War 2, where he lost his brother. After the war he moved to Melbourne, and worked in the mailroom of an advertising agency. He later went on to become the chairman of the company.

I’ve grown up to live an incredibly fortunate life. I went to a great school, had a great family, grew up in Australia where I had direct access to great (free-ish) university, and while I struggled at first to land a full-time job, I was never completely out of work, or at least out of opportunities to make a little cash while between jobs.

But – and this might seem a little unnecessarily heavy – in the west we have not (in my lifetime) been completely decimated by world war, famine, or economic depression. But these things could very well occur, which makes it critical to ensure you’re prepared in your career for massive change. This is why you need to diversify your skillsets and not just be a one-trick pony, it’s why you need experience in a variety of businesses, and it’s why you need to have your finances in order with money saved for a rainy day.

Wrapping up!

In short, here’s the ten biggest tips I have for millenials looking to hack growth in their career.

#1: Chase the skills, not the money
#2: Align with people and businesses that will provide steep and valuable learning curves
#3: Invest in yourself with books, courses, guides, events
#4: Get outside the tech bubble
#5: Learn how to manage, save, and invest your money
#6: Get inside a medium to large sized business and get a deep understanding on how they work
#7: Don’t take your job for granted
#8: Understand that the job market is incredibly competitive, and increasingly so!
#9: The older people in your organisation have incredible knowledge, take advantage of that
#10: Develop your wider business acumen
#11: Be prepared for massive change

will vaughan your career mastery

Will Vaughan is the Founder & CEO of Your Career Mastery. He’s dedicated to helping young professionals discover and land the job of their dreams using a mix of proven strategies, tips, tools, and mindsets. He currently works as a Content & SEO manager for a 100 million dollar tech company in Melbourne, Australia.

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