#1: Work on your hardest task first
This is something that I do almost every single day. This is typically the calmest time of the day before all the meetings and emails start piling in, so make good use of this time to get that task you’ve been dreading all week completed. Working on your hardest task early on in the work day will help you be more productive the rest of the day and crossing off that big to-do from your list is a huge bonus!
#2: At the end of each day, make yourself a to do list with the most important tasks first
I learned this one after a few months at my first “big girl” job. I found it so much easier to write down what tasks I needed to do first the next morning before I left work for the day. By doing this, I was able to remember what was left to do and prioritize my work for the next day. I’m still a huge fan of writing my to-do lists on paper, there’s just something about crossing something off my list when I’m done that is so satisfying – but if you work best with keeping a digital to do list there are so many tools out there that you can use.
#3: Set goals for yourself and come back to them at least every 3 months
I’m a BIG fan of setting goals – both personal and professional. They are a reminder to yourself of what you’re looking for in life, work, health and more. Setting goals for yourself early on is a great professional habit to develop.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for yet – that’s totally OK, you will start to learn what you’re looking for as you begin working and finding what you’re passionate about. Come back to your goals at least every 3 months so you can check-in with your progress and re-address if you need to make any changes to achieve your goals.
Related Reading: Monthly Goal Planning Ideas
#4: Be confident in yourself
Honestly when I started my first job, I wasn’t very confident – I didn’t know what my worth was but I learned that I had a lot of skills to offer and a valuable viewpoint to contribute to my team. This ultimately led to my success and helped me be seen as a leader among my colleagues. No matter what, know that you have valuable skills to bring to every situation.
#5: Clean up your social media
Have photos on Facebook from a crazy college party? I hate to break it to you, but it’s just not professional. Your online presence is super important in not only getting a job but to also growing your career. Cleaning up your social media accounts are something that should happen even while in college, especially if you’re looking for internships. Recruiters and hiring managers look at social media, so think twice about posting those photos of you chugging a beer.
#6: Find a mentor
I talked about this in my tips for your first 90 days at a new job, but this is also important to do early on in your career. Having a mentor and someone to talk to about your professional goals is so helpful when you’re establishing your career. A mentor can be someone you work with or used to work with. They can also be a college adviser or career placement professional. When I was a student at Penn State, I was so lucky to have such great career guidance thanks to the College of Communications Career & Internship Center that helped me find internships in my field.
Related Reading: How to Find a Mentor Early on in Your Career
#7: Be prepared for meetings
I strive to prepare for every meeting I attend and if I scheduled the meeting, I make sure to include discussion points in the invite so all of the other attendees have time to prepare. Ultimately, if everyone is prepared for the meeting then the more productive the meeting will be. While in meetings, make sure to take thorough notes and have actions items determined before leaving the room.
#8: Listen, Learn & Ask Questions
This tip is one of the biggest reasons I was able to become a leader early on in my career. When I first started my jobs and was still a new employee, there was a big learning curve. In those scenarios I made sure to listen to everything, take notes, try figuring things out for myself (this is when you learn the most) and ask valuable questions. By doing this, I was able to pick up the process faster and start contributing to the team early on in my new position.
Related Reading: How to be Seen as a Leader, Even as a Millennial
#9: Respond to every email within 24 hours
Responding to emails within 24 hours of receiving them is so important and a good habit to develop early on in your career. If your response is necessary for workflow reasons, then responding as soon as possible is key and most times that means at least within the hour, if not sooner. If you need to gather more information before responding to a question, then at least confirming receipt will go a long way and then follow up as soon as you can provide a full response.
#10: Stay Organized
Organization is one of the pillars of success in my opinion. Being organized helps you get more work done and is so important to do early on in your twenties. Everyone has different organizational techniques and it may take some time for you to find what works best for you – but developing this early on will ultimately help you be more successful and get more done.
#11: Update your LinkedIn
LinkedIn is such an important tool for building your career and making it a habit to keep your LinkedIn updated early on in your twenties is crucial. LinkedIn is such a powerful networking tool and could potentially open the door to great opportunities if you use it properly.
Related Reading: How to Get Your Profile Noticed on LinkedIn
#12: Update your resume every six months
I hear so many people complain about updating their resume whenever they are searching for a new job. In a time crunch it’s hard to remember the important details of what you’ve worked on since you last updated it. Making it a habit to update your resume at least every six months will help reduce the amount of time you have to spend updating it when you’re in the market for a new job but will also help you remember the details of a big project you worked on or accomplishments you had.
My Etsy shop has a lot of different resume offerings to help you advance in your career, so check it out to see how I can help with your resume. I have helped many of my clients get the interviews at their dream jobs by giving them a stand out resume! Also make sure to read my post on the top resume mistakes to make sure your resume isn’t committing some of these common mistakes.
#13: Build Relationships
Having professional relationships early on in your career is so important to building your professional network. You never know when someone in your professional network may reach out to you with an amazing opportunity or become a great mentor for you.
#14: Say yes to new projects and opportunities
Your twenties are the time in your life when you can take bigger risks, so use this time to say yes to new projects at work that may be outside of your comfort zone or take a job that may require a re-location to a new city. Taking on new projects at work could result in a promotion or raise, even if it was initially outside of your wheelhouse because you could learn new skills that will help further your career.
You also never know if moving to a new city for a different job could end up being the best decision you’ve ever made. Your twenties are a time to figure out what you’re passionate about and where you want to plant your roots. If you have a great opportunity in a city you’d like to discover, say yes!
#15: Develop a routine
Last but not least, developing a routine in your twenties will set you up for success in your personal and professional life. Establishing your routine early on will help you figure out when you are most productive and will be so helpful when you get older. I love my routine and find it so important for my personal happiness & productivity at work.