You don’t need to have everything worked out by the time you’re 35. However, there are some things (35 of them in fact) that you’ll want to have explored to ensure that you’re on the right track!
You don’t need to complete all of them, but you’ll find yourself in a good place if you do!
1. Uncover your superpower
Everyone has a superpower – something they offer that no one else can. According to Corinne Mills, author of Career Coach, discovering yours can be as simple as asking honest and trustworthy ex-colleagues and ex-managers.
2. Work overseas
With more and more companies expanding globally, there is an increased demand for employees who have international experience. Do yourself a favour and spend a year or two working abroad!
3. Get behind a cause that you believe in
Supporting a cause gives your career an added purpose. This could be as small as making a donation or as large as collaborating with your colleagues to amplify a meaningful message.
4. Take an active role in a professional association
Get active and join a professional association as a committee member. It’s the equivalent of being an event host – people will know who you are and you’ll have an easy introduction to everyone else in the room.
5. Pursue what you fear most
What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do in your career but have always been too afraid of? Fear often informs us of what we should do, so try it out and see where it takes you!
6. Collate a portfolio of your best work
Keep a visual collection of your career achievements such as press clippings, campaign screenshots and annual reports. Tangible evidence speaks louder than words.
7. Clarify your elevator pitch
When someone asks “what do you do?” you’d better have something compelling to say! Fine-tune a punchy and persuasive introduction that can be delivered in the time it takes for a short elevator ride.
8. Fight for workplace equality
According to the 2014 Labour Force Statistics, women earn less than men in all occupational categories except clerical and support. Each of us has the responsibility to confront the gender gap as success comes when we see each other as equals and work together.
9. Get a career coach
Every professional athlete has a coach, so why shouldn’t you have one for your career? Aside from perfecting your résumé and preparing you for interviews, they’ll help you clarify your strengths, career goals and direction.
10. Master a set of skills
Knowledge is power, but when it comes to execution, you need skills. What skills are in your tool kit and what courses can you take to sharpen them?
11. Capitalise on professional skills training
Identify the areas that you need to cultivate and take some courses to upskill. All Singaporeans aged 25 and above receive an opening balance of S$500 SkillsFuture credit to pay for or offset a wide range of courses, so why not use it?
12. Know your weaknesses
Every superhero has a weakness. For Superman, it was kryptonite. For you, it could be negotiation. Know and manage your weaknesses – whether that’s through learning more about them or surrounding yourself with people who excel in those areas.
13. Take a personality test
Still struggling to identify your strengths and weaknesses? Dig deeper by taking a personality test like the Identi3 Profiling Tool.
14. Seek responsibility
You’ve been asked to manage a new team? Go for it. You’ve been complaining that the company safety manual is overdue for an update? Start the project. The more responsibility you take on, the more you will scale the career ladder.
15. Learn how to say “yes” AND “no”
Saying “yes” is important when you’re beginning your career. However, there comes a time when you must say “no” so that you can focus on the things that matter. Knowing which to say isn’t easy but comes with practice.
16. Make decision-making a habit
What’s worse than making the wrong decision? Making no decision at all! By making fast and decisive decisions, you’ll waste less energy and get better at making the right ones.
17. Design your work-life balance
“Work-life balance” means different things to different people. For some it is playing football on a Tuesday night. For others, it is working from home so that they can raise a family. This balance however, won’t just drop into your lap – you must design and negotiate (see point 20) for it yourself!
18. Figure out what you don’t want
If you aren’t sure of the steps towards a fulfilling career, start by figuring out what you don’t want. Which tasks make you shudder? Which work cultures make you feel like the black sheep? Keep track of what makes you tick!
19. Get used to asking
According to Leanne Meyer from The Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women, “men ask for assignments four times more than we (women) do.” Asking need not be shameful nor egotistical though. Rather, it’s perfectly natural and can empower both parties as Amanda Palmer shared in her TED talk, The art of asking.
20. Learn how to negotiate
Once you’ve become comfortable with asking, you’ll need to learn how to negotiate. John Maxwell recommends figuring out what you can leave on the table so that the negotiation adds value to the relationship.
21. Consciously create your professional network
Be conscious of the professional relationships that you are building. It is by having the right network that you can make the right things happen in your career!
22. Establish your personal brand
What do you want to be known for in your career? How do you want to be perceived? Don’t let this be left to chance, and start crafting your personal and professional image!
23. Become a master manager
There’s an African proverb that goes, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” So if you want to go far, sharpen your management skills. Managing even just one person will revolutionise how you work!
24. Pursue communications and leadership training
25. Aim for a senior management position
A survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit found that 56 per cent of Singapore professional women believe that females are underrepresented in senior management. Let’s start changing that statistic!
26. Find a mentor
Grace Ho, CCO of Singapore Post, adopted mantras like “fail faster, learn quickly” and “think big, act small” from her previous CEO. Imagine what you could learn from someone who has been in the game a decade or two longer than you?
27. Become a mentor
Got years of industry experience and want to empower the next generation in your industry? If so, become a mentor! These relationships can arise organically or formally through a programme such as the SkillsFuture SME Mentors programme.
28. Find (or found) a mastermind
Feeling isolated in your career? No worries, join a mastermind aka a support group that enables you to share your career challenges, stay accountable and harness the minds of others. If you can’t find one, that’s ok. Just start your own!
29. Work in a different department
Working in a different department exposes you to a completely new set of challenges and provides you with the bigger picture. The higher up you go in a company, the more valuable this knowledge and perspective will become.
30. Write about your area of expertise
Writing deepens your understanding and establishes you as a thought leader in your area of expertise. With so many avenues to publish nowadays such as self-publishing, blogging, editorial or in-company communications, all you have to do is pick one!
31. Speak about your area of expertise
If writing isn’t your thing, then how about speaking? Be it a 5-person workshop or an industry conference, relish the opportunity to brush up your presentation skills.
32. Work at companies both large and small
Working at a large multinational is completely different to working at a startup. The most important thing however, is that you discover which type of company fits you.
33. Start a passion project
It’s never been easier (and cheaper) to bring a side passion to life. The best-case scenario is that it’ll become your career. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll discover a new creative outlet.
34. Start your own business
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, however there’s never a better time to try it than before the responsibilities of parenthood and mortgages set in.
35. Educate yourself on personal finance
According to Robert Kiyosaki, “it’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep and how hard it works for you.” You’ll thank yourself for learning to be resourceful and investing a portion of your salary when you’re in your twilight years!
Your 30s are for becoming the person you know you can be. Empower yourself to realise your full potential by signing up for the UPGRADERS package.