8 Best Pieces of Career Advice To Excel in Your 20s

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As a fresh-faced graduate straight out of university, the thought of finding your dream job can seem exhilarating at time but also equally terrifying. All the hours you’ve put into your studies and now, you’re embarking into the real world. For some of us, finding that first job is hard enough. However, finding a first job without proper career advice when you haven’t truly figured out what you want to do is a whole other story.

At the early stages in our career, it’s completely normal for us to think that we are not experienced or skilled enough for a role.

And sometimes, that feeling never really goes away.

As with most things in life, there are certain things that is better to not go into blindly. Thus, to help guide you in this journey, here are some career advice that you can put to good use before starting your career!

1. Master the Art of Professional Email

You would be surprised to hear how many young graduates or even people who have been working for over 10 years, that still send professional emails like they’re sending a text message to a high school friend.

Saying “I’m not really fluent in the language” is just another way of excusing your lack in manners. It’s not about your fluency in a language, it’s about how you construct that message to approach someone with respect. The key is to remember, they’re not your friends. So, the next time you want to send a professional email, remember:

  • Give a proper greeting.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Tell them the purpose of your email.
  • End with a proper closing line such as “I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.”


2. Do Not Follow Your Passion

Now, you might be thinking, “Wait, what?” but hear us out. This is for the people at the back who still don’t know what they want to do with their lives. We have heard it time and time again to follow your passion if you want to have a successful career while also living a long and happy life but that’s not always the case with reality.

Let’s face it, we go through so many phases in our lives, but we will never be good at everything that we do. Yes, practice makes perfect but if there’s one thing you’re extremely good at, stick to it and drive your passion into that because true passion grows out of something you are already really good at. Additionally, when you’re already good at what you do, you’ll produce quality work and develop a fulfilling career.


3. Set a Clear Career Path

At the start of your career, set a clear career path for you. Ask yourself, where do you want to be in 5 years, and plan that road for you to reach it. When you’re applying for a job, don’t simply apply for anything and everything that’s available. Aim for roles that will have you learn new skills or improve a current skill that you already have that is something you are interested in.

Make sure that the positions you held build on each other and is leading you towards your dream, only then will you end up with a fulfilling career.


4. Stand Out from The Crowd

Recruiters receive hundreds of applications a day from candidates who have similar qualifications and experience. With that knowledge, how can you stand out from the crowd and have your resume in the ‘yes’ pile instead of the bin?

This is why it is so important to take all the necessary steps available when it comes to applying. There are so many other ways you can impress the recruiters aside from the typical CV and cover letter. Prepare a video cover letter, engage with the recruiter on LinkedIn, or even consider pursuing a professional qualification to attract different people in different industry.


5. Be Curious and Inquisitive

No matter what age you are or what level of career you’re in, there is always something more to learn and the moment you stop learning is the moment you made the choice of stalling your career. 5 years ago, we could perhaps get away with having a single qualification and a few surface-level skills but in the current job market, that simply is not enough.

You are constantly going up against other candidates who have way more experiences and a broader set of skills. So, throw yourself into the deep end. Don’t just settle with being spoon-fed, ask questions and seek answers. Everything you do is a learning experience that will help you to avoid being left behind.

6. Listen More

According to Mark Wayshak, there’s an 80/20 listening rule that we have to follow and that is, spend 80% of your time listening and only 20% of your time actually talking. This tip is extremely important especially for those that have just started a new position and is still in the midst of adapting to the new workplace culture.

Listen to what your coworkers are saying, to how your boss is communicating and believe me, a great first impression is when you can repeat some of their words back to them because it shows that you “get it” and listened with authenticity to hear and understand.


7. Speak Up

Have you ever gone into a meeting and just sat there quietly for the next hour or two because you feel like you’re only there to listen? If you have, then you’re probably doing it wrong. Some of the smartest people with the best ideas tend to not say anything so remember, the next time you’re having a discussion with your team, don’t feel intimidated to speak up.

We always hear stories in the corporate world. How the most outspoken ones who is brave enough to be frank and give respectful opinions have a higher chance of elevating their career status as a result. You are there for a reason. You are the expert at what you’re doing so your opinion matters and people will respect you for giving it.

8. Don’t Be Disheartened If Things Don’t Go as Planned

No matter what qualification you have, the beginning of your career will probably not go as how you would imagine it. Not everyone has the luxury to kickstart their career with the perfect job that will utilizes their degree to the fullest and that is totally fine. Sometimes, it will take more than a few tries before you find the right fit for you.

As such, do not be disheartened if your first job isn’t what you expected it to be. It’s just the beginning of a long journey, so make use of every single experience you gain. Learn from it and broaden your skill set, that might end up helping to boost your job prospects in the future. Everyone has to start somewhere so remember that and build on what you’ve learned.

As the saying goes, the journey is just as meaningful as the destination.


Related: 5 Reasons to Consider BAT Malaysia as Your Employer of Choice


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