作者：一只西柚 2018-02-03 12:05
There’s a meme on the internet, which speaks truth about a dilemma for young people entering the hypercompetitive workforce of 2017. The photo is of two seasoned, older interviewers glaring critically across the table at a young interview candidate with the following words: “We’re looking for someone age 22-26… with 30 years of experience.”
This credibility paradox is indeed a core dilemma many young people face as they enter the workforce. To be successful, young workers — or anyone starting a new job or career with little previous experience in a given field — need to be seen as credible before they have had the opportunity to build expertise from the ground up. With the credibility paradox, there’s no ground to run on; you need to have already covered the ground before even having started.
For the young and inexperienced, it’s essential to overcome this challenge. Getting a fast start in your career will help you gain access to experiences and opportunities that will help you get noticed, be seen as a “high potential,” and be given access to opportunities to learn and grow in your career. And it’s not only young workers who will benefit from solving this dilemma. It’s critical for companies who spend thousands of dollars and countless hours of time recruiting, interviewing, screening, and onboarding new employees.
How can the credibility paradox be solved? Here are five common activities that you can do as a young professional to jump-start your career and catalyze your leadership trajectory.
1. Leverage your research skills.
One of the best ways to stand out in a corporate setting, even as someone with less work experience, is to develop unique knowledge that makes you a go-to resource for your colleagues and clients. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to use your research skills to synthesize and master industry specific knowledge, trends, and information.
Chances are, if you’ve recently graduated from university, you have a set of freshly honed research skills that you can put to immediate use in a professional context, but if you don’t, work on them now. Find out what specific types of knowledge people in your industry crave — and lack — and build your area of expertise around it.
2. Identify your specific contribution.
Ask yourself some basic questions to identify your strengths and where you might be able to contribute value. In which areas do you feel you do your best work? What have you been praised for in the past? Use your answers to generate strengths and resources that can become fodder for jump-starting your career and fast tracking your professional growth.
3. Volunteer willingly.
Don’t underestimate the power of grit, determination, and the willingness to take on unenviable assignments. If, at the end of a group meeting, your department head requests more feedback from sales reps on a product line your team has been discussing, volunteer to track down the information. If your senior colleagues ask if anyone would be willing to scrape a big data set for trends that could support your team’s case, take on the project — assuming of course you have the skill set to deliver. Opportunities abound to prove yourself. Take advantage of them to make a quick impression as a reliable and hard worker.
4. Manage your workload and communicate proactively.
Although knowledge and experience take time to cultivate, you can immediately establish a reputation for reliability with your colleagues and superiors. Manage your commitments and workload wisely. Also, be proactive with your communication. If you anticipate any difficulty in meeting a deadline, discuss it with your superior as soon as possible, and ask for guidance when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
And don’t forget the importance of follow-through. Bring every single assignment to its conclusion. Don’t leave any details hanging or deadlines unmet. You may not be the most experienced person in the room, but you can become one of the most reliable.
5. Work to build a network of close relationships.
Your goal over time will be to build a deep and varied network of trusted colleagues who will provide you with ongoing mentoring, advice, and feedback as you progress at your job and in your career.
The key, though, is to work hard at getting to know as many people as you can on a collegial or even more personal level. These contacts and connections can be critical mentors, sounding boards for your ideas, and potential advocates for you and your work throughout the organization. Demonstrate to them your motivation, commitment, and relevant expertise, and when possible, find ways you can be of service to them and help them with their work.
Expertise doesn’t build on its own, and your coworkers won’t see you as a crucial part of the organization until you prove yourself to be one. But by developing the confidence to leverage the tools, assets, and capabilities that you already have as a young worker, you can overcome the credibility paradox and jump-start your career in the process.