Millenials are a force to be reckoned with. They have a reputation for being movers and shakers who don’t always comply with the norm. Most millennials seek adventure and thrive in leadership positions. To be blunt, millennials like to live life on their own terms.
With the rise of social media and technology, combined with the rate that millennials are entering the workforce, millennials have a massive potential to excel in their careers. At the same time, if you are a millennial who wants to grow into a leadership position you are going to need to find a way to get ahead.
Millenials are the largest generations in the western world. Needless to say, there are a lot of them, which also means there is a lot of competition among them. Today, if you want to stand out you really have to do something that will set you apart.
Here are four tips that can help you stand out if you are a millennial who wants to get ahead in your career.
1. Persistently speak your truth
Millennials are known for being opinionated. They also get a lot of slack for being entitled. This reputation may make millennials feel self-conscious at work. Remember, that it’s the millennials who are loud enough to ask for what they want who will get ahead. If you want to get ahead you need to do this over and over again until you get the outcome you desire. You need to be persistent about speaking your truth.
Have you ever been in a meeting, where you wanted to voice an idea or opinion, and didn’t? And then a few minutes later someone else voices the same idea and gets praised for it. The people who speak up are the ones who get noticed. Unfortunately, your bosses and peers can’t read your mind. So if you want to be known for being the person with the good ideas, you first need to share your good ideas. Using your voice is a important habit that you should invest in. Practice saying your opinions and being comfortable sharing your beliefs.
Sometimes, the people who work for won’t want to hear or appreciate what you have to say. This is a huge indicator that you are working in a hostile work environment. Or that you are in a situation where your needs aren’t being met. If this is the case it’s important that you acknowledge it and start focusing on other career avenues where your voice has the potential to be respected.
After getting my masters degree I worked at an organization where I was the only millennial. The processes were outdated and the company was suffering because of it. When I would chime in with innovative ways to ramp things up, my ideas would be shut down. When I challenged the unproductive nature of the companies producers my superiors would say “well that’s just the way it’s always been done”.
This work environment was not for me. Still, I really valued the work experience I was getting. So, I made a plan.
2. Don’t settle for a job that you’re not excited about
My plan was to stay there for a full year. I was fresh out of grad school, and although I had a great academic record, I did not have a lot of consistent work experience. So I felt it was important to be at one company for at least a year–even if it was a hostile and unproductive work environment. While getting this year of experience under my belt I used my free time to figure out what my next steps would be.
So in the meantime, I tried as many things as I could.
I networked with other ambitious millennials and teamed up with a few of them to start a tech company, focused on connecting refugees to coding education. I also started writing online like it was my job. I treated these two things like they were my career, even though I wasn’t getting paid of it. I was soon a published author, with work featured in The Oxford Journal, Huffington Post, The International Business Times, Forbes and more.
My writing credentials allowed me to get a job writing for Inc Magazine where I still write today. My experience starting my own company gave me the courage to continue to work for myself as a freelance writer. And my knowledge of the refugee crisis helped me start my own podcast.
I finally found a space that appreciated and respected my voice. I created avenues that worked for me. It took a lot of work and some unconventional routes, but if you want to grow in your career, you need to be able to flourish by speaking your truth. If that isn’t at your day job, start a side hustle, create space to thrive. All the information and resources you need are at your fingertips–literally!
3. Learn to listen
Using your voice is an important skill that will help you get ahead, but so is listening. As a millennial, you are probably going to be one of the younger people in the room. Learn to listen to the people around you with more experience than you. Listening is a great habit to have.
Challenging the norm and standing out will get you ahead, but these qualities can also really hurt you if you aren’t patient and willing to learn from others. You shouldn’t always be the loudest person in the room. If you are, it probably means you think you have something to prove. You don’t. Instead, take the time to learn from your superiors and your peers.
Asking productive questions can help you learn and listen at the same time. You don’t have to have all the answers. Taking the time to hear other people’s opinions will teach you a tremendous amount about your career and field of interest.
4. Surround yourself with people that encourage you
You are who you spend time with. If you have a support system that motivates you or inspires you, it can make reaching your goals much easier. Finding the career path that is right for you can feel like a rollercoaster ride. There are a lot of ups and downs. So having people who can help you through it is really important. Spend time with people who are as enthusiastic as you are about achieving your career goals. This may mean having to broaden your circle and meeting people who have a passion for success.
This doesn’t mean you have to start cutting people out of your life because they don’t have the same ambition or drive as you. It just means that you should be aware of what you do during your free time, and who you spend that time with. Is it people who lift you up, or people you bring you down?
This doesn’t always mean friends and family. Do you remember that hostile work environment I was telling you about earlier? I was constantly surrounded by people who brought me down. I saw the negative pattern but I didn’t realize how bad it was until I left. I am much more happy in my pursuits now that I work with people who encourage me. Don’t surround yourself with people who make you feel pessimistic. Instead, try to surround yourself with people who make you feel positive.
Broadening your circle may also help you with landing jobs. There is a reason that networking is so highly valued. Build a solid network of people who can help you become more confident about your career goals. The bigger network you have, the more opportunities you will have. If you are an introvert it can be hard to reach out to people or to go to networking events–especially when it means you have to go alone. If that is the case for you try reaching out to people online. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people in your industry. Facebook also has a lot of specified groups. Search around and try to join a Facebook group filled with people who have similar interests as you.
Making it as a millennial is hard, there is plenty of competition and the job market is changing. Still, you have more tools than ever to explore and be creative in finding a career that will make you happy. For me, as a freelancer, it means being able to work on projects independently and remotely. While others thrive in group settings or situations where they have a more consistent projection of work–freelancing can be somewhat of a gamble.
While you’re young you probably won’t know what environment works best until you try it. So take time to experiment with different career avenues and lifestyles. Knowing want you want is a great first step to getting ahead in your career. Speaking your truth, not settling for mundane jobs, being an active listener, and surrounding yourself with a motivating group of people are also four great ways to boost your career and help you get ahead.