Practical Advice for Early Career Professionals

If you’re a recent college graduate or early career professional, you may be feeling overwhelmed as you look to start your career. The amount of information available to you may be similar to “drinking through a fire hose,” but don’t worry; everything will start to slow down eventually.

When looking for advice as it pertains to your career, you might not even know where to start. It seems like everyone has a say in how you should progress along your career, but that advice seems to be more generalized and might not pertain exactly to your career. Because of this, you might find yourself falling down an “advice black hole” and finding random tidbits from every corner of the Internet.

If you’re about to set off on your career journey or are already in the early stages, the best kind of advice you can seek is practical advice. These lessons are often not taught in the classroom, but rather through life experiences. In an article for Forbes, Dana Brownlee offers up 10 top career advice tips for those in this demographic. You can read the full article here.

Build Relationships Before You Need Them

A common misconception about networking is that you’re only supposed to network when you need a new job. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You should be networking throughout your career, because you never know where a connection or relationship can lead.

When going to networking events, you can usually easily distinguish the difference between those trying to expand their network and those solely looking for a new opportunity. While these conversations can certainly lead to new opportunities, networking is a two-way street and should be beneficial for both parties. If you’re only talking to people because you need something, that is usually pretty apparent in your discussion and can close doors before ever having the chance to open them.

Developing relationships with other industry professionals, and even those in different industries, will prove beneficial down the road when you actually do need something.

Arrive Early To Everything

A popular saying is “If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late.” There is nothing worse than someone who is chronically late to everything, regardless of the time of day. By arriving early to everything, you can easily distinguish yourself in the workplace. People will take notice.

Manage Your Personal Brand

Personal branding has become a hot topic in today’s society. Whether it is your style of dress, email syntax or choice of music, everything you do relates to your personal brand. This can be a way to stand out, but it is important to consider your industry and office culture before going too crazy. Regardless of your choices, remember that everything you do reflects on your personal brand and how people think of you. Managing your brand can take you a long way.

Be Relentlessly Responsive

Thanks to today’s constantly connected world, responding to emails/calls/texts has become easier than ever. There is almost no excuse for someone to not respond for days on end. Another way to stand out is in your response time. Remember: there is a difference between reacting and responding. If you need to do some research on the topic, that is fine, but you can let the individual know that you got their request and are working on it.

That said, there is a fine line that differentiates your work-life balance. Depending on your work, you likely don’t need to be responding to emails at 3:00 AM. Knowing when to shut off for the night is almost as important as how quickly you respond.

Wrap Up

Depending on where you’re at in your career, the advice you seek varies. Just as your resume changes for the type of job level you seek, so too does the accompanying advice. For recent, or soon-to-be college graduates, and early career professionals, there are certain topics that aren’t covered in your coursework. Your mentors or parents may have advice from their own careers, but in all honesty, this is a different time so your advice will be different as well.

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