Getting started in your first career is no doubt a climb up hill. But there are a few things that I think can really help you stand out among your peers.
I know this from experience. I’ve been an interviewee and an interviewer several times, and I worked as an attorney for four years and am now a financial planner in a firm. So, I have experience here!
I believe this stuff matters — a lot. So, here’s a list of the top 5 career habits I think millennials should be doing.
1. Write handwritten thank you notes
Always write handwritten thank you notes after an interview (or to thank someone for anything, really). The handwritten note will go so much further than an email. Everyone loves getting them and it sets you apart from your peers. A thank you note is expected after any interview, but a handwritten thank you note really adds so much more than an email. People in the office will mention it to each other, and it will leave them with a really good impression of you.
2. Network regularly
When you’re starting out in your career, it’s important for you to network regularly. This means you need to get around people who are doing what you want to be doing. Go to lunch and happy hour to make connections and network in your field. My advice is to choose where you spend your time wisely – make sure you’re going to events that will help you either meet new people or connect deeper with people you already know.
It’s not always what you know, but who you know. For more on this, watch Gary Vee’s epic video about the importance of networking when you’re starting out in any field.
3. Get a mentor
When you’re starting out in a new career, it’s important for you to have someone who’s been where you’ve been and who can help you get where you want to go. Try to find someone who you really admire, look up to, and want to be like professionally. You shouldn’t take advice from someone who isn’t doing what you’re doing. But you should take advice from someone doing what you want to be doing. Find someone and ask them to mentor you. It doesn’t have to be in person either – you can always have mentoring meetings via Skype.
One of the best life hacks I know is to get around people you want to be like because you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Take your new career as an opportunity to learn and grow from someone who is already a pro in your field.
4. Always carry business cards
Make sure you always have your business cards on you. I’m amazed at how digital we are today, and how much business cards still continue to be used. You don’t want to make the faux pas of not having your business cards on you when someone asks for one (trust me, I’ve been there and it’s embarrassing!). Keep a couple in your wallet so you’re always ready.
5. Act like a professional
The last habit is more of a way of being. You should always act professional when you’re in a professional setting. This may seem like common sense, but it’s really not. If your office is somewhat professional dress, you should be dressed on the conservative side. If you’re around your superiors, you should use appropriate language. More than that, use your judgment.
Things that have been said to me that are not appropriate for the office, include:
- “I’m so glad this office is so laid back.”
- “I am just not a serious person.”
- “I’m glad I don’t have to dress up too much here.”
Notice in the three statements above, none of these are necessarily bad, wrong, or false. But I can tell you they left a bad impression on the people who they were said to. Err on the side of professional, not on the side of casual.
If you’re a new person starting out at the bottom, it’s so important that you put your best foot forward and make a really good impression in the office.
There are five musts that I think every career millennial needs to be doing:
- Write handwritten thank you notes,
- Get a mentor,
- Carry business cards, and
- Act like a professional
These may seem obvious to you, but I promise you that everyone is not doing them. So, if you are, then you’re ahead of the curve already!
- Up Next: How to Find Your Dream Job
Up Next: Read more career blog posts