5 Best Career Tips for Young People

Investing in yourself and generating multiple sources of income the first steps to a thriving career.

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Even in the most prestigious and well-paying professions, job security is hard to find. Instead, financial stability now comes from treating yourself like your most important employee. That means investing in yourself, paying yourself well, and otherwise making sure you’re operating at full speed. These tips, based on the book Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, will help you take your career to the next level.

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Invest in yourself.

Professional coaching can turn you into the star podcaster you’ve dreamed of becoming, or it can teach you how to be a better leader. Sometimes, a career coach or development course can help you get “unstuck” from a career rut. Talk about your goals for the session ahead of time to make sure you get what you want out of it. (The price of one-on-one coaching typically starts at around $200 an hour.) Less formal advice can come from meeting with more experienced colleagues and mentors over lunch or coffee; they will often be happy to talk with you.

Raise your rates.

Chances are you’re not getting paid as much as you’re worth. Do some research on salary comparison websites, such as salary.com or payscale.com. If the estimates seem way off base—which they can, especially if you have an unusual job or one with a difficult-to-understand title—then dig deeper.

If you’re close to a coworker, then ask that person what he or she thinks the pay range should be for a variety of jobs at your workplace to get a sense of how you stack up. If more than a year has passed since your last pay increase—or if you discover that you are underpaid compared to your peers—then it’s time to make your case.

Write a memo that outlines why you deserve a raise, including the contributions you’ve made over the last year. Run the request and your reasons by a trusted friend or family member and rehearse how you plan to bring it up.

[For more money-saving tips, visit the U.S. News Alpha Consumer blog.]

Get a second (or third) job.

Diversifying your income is the best way to create job stability. Could you start selling your crafty inventions on etsy.com? Do you enjoy organizing other people’s desks, or designing T-shirts? Or do you have an unusual skill, such as woodworking, that you could advertise on Craigslist.org? Make a list of all of the ways that you could earn money outside of your current job. Then, pick an item on your list and get started, perhaps with a small step such as purchasing a domain name.

Fly solo.

When Tim Bradley, twenty-nine, and his wife, Anne Morrison Bradley, twenty-seven, started brainstorming about the kind of business they could start, they thought about what they love. They settled on two things: their dogs, and design. The couple decided that there was a need for upscale, modern design products for people with pets that they could fill. While Tim was finishing law school and Anne was working in corporate development in Ferndale, Michigan, they hired a graphic designer, formed a company, and built their website, for a total start-up cost of around $5,000.

By the end of the first month, The Premium Pet had already made its first $1,000 of sales revenue. While both Tim, a lawyer, and Anne, who works in corporate development, are holding onto their day jobs for now, they know have a backup plan—and a dream for one day making it their full-time job.

[Visit the U.S. News Personal Finance site for more insight and money management tips.]

Free up your time and energy by outsourcing chores.

Think of money spent on a cleaning service or getting your groceries delivered as investments in your career, because they free up more time (and energy) for you to focus on your day (or night) job. Instead of vacuuming the living room, consider scheduling a creativity session: Block out an hour on the weekend or evening to dedicate to exposing your mind to new ideas. Bring a couple magazines that you would never normally read—a software engineer might want to pick up a copy of Vogue, for example – and a pen and notebook, and see what ideas strike you.

This article is adapted with permission from Kimberly Palmer’s new book Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back (Ten Speed Press).