25 things every young professional should know by age 25

Posted by TheLadders Contributor

January 30, 2014 @ 05:05 PM

Danny Rubin shares his favorite leadership skills and practical tips all 20-somethings should know to succeed in the workplace.

Interview_SkippyLast year, Kirk McDonald wrote a popular op-ed in The Wall Street Journal called “Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won’t Hire You.” McDonald, the president of a tech company in Manhattan, believes most young adults don’t have the one skill that’s in high demand: computer programming.

McDonald’s argument got me thinking. What else should 20-somethings know once they are out in the real world? The result is a comprehensive list of leadership skills and practical tips all Millennials should know. Below are five of my favorite items from this list.

#25: It’s spelled “definitely,” not “definately.”

Yes, it sounds like an “a,” but the fact remains: the word is spelled with an “i.” While we’re on the subject of writing, here are three other words you should expunge from your professional conversations:

“Ridiculous” (Instead, try using words like “unbelievable” or “incredible”)
In order” (As in, “I wrote this sentence in order to prove a point”)
“That” (The greatest space-filler of them all; the classic word you almost never need)

Remove these words and you will quickly develop stronger cover letters, resumes, work emails and business presentations.

#22: A cover letter should add color and personality. It should not summarize your resume.

Want to really impress an HR manager? Start your cover letter with a story that showcases your personality and – above all – relates directly to the job you want. For instance, say you’re applying to be a middle school teacher. You want to prove you can handle a classroom of rambunctious 13-year-olds. You kick off the cover letter like so:

“The sirens were deafening, and I could tell the kids were scared.  Right then, I knew what I had to do: make sure all the children were ushered to a sturdy part of the school in an orderly fashion. We had little time, and I needed to act fast. I had never experienced a tornado firsthand, but I had the proper training and knew if I stayed calm, we would all get through it safely.”

And just like that, you’ve used a unique, dramatic story that demonstrates courage under fire and shows – not tells – the reader that you have what it takes.

#13: You are never too busy to write a thank-you note.

Looking to take your game to the next level? Send a thank-you note to a friend or co-worker just because they did something really great for you. If you feel inspired, write it by hand or toss in a Starbucks gift card. These random gestures are guaranteed to make that person’s day.

#8: Don’t step into an interview room without research on the company and questions for the employer.

Before you walk into the job interview, make sure you have solid intel on the employer and meaningful questions prepared. For example, here are some questions you might ask someone who works in marketing:

  • “I read your bio and noticed you started your career in marketing with Ringling Brothers circus. What was that like?”
  • “I keep reading about how ‘big data’ is the future of marketing. What’s your thought on how media firms should take advantage of all the new information out there?”
  • “What do clients find most valuable today? What services are they most interested in?”

The goal is to turn an interview into a conversation.Prove you are an equal and ready to “talk shop” about the business. Click on the following link for more examples of smart questions.

#4: Under-promise. Over-deliver.

In the business world, anyone can talk a big game. Don’t set the bar too high by guaranteeing mind-blowing work. It’s far better to surprise people with a terrific end product they didn’t expect than to overpromise and disappoint them.

Click on the following link to visit News To Live By and download a free copy of my e-book, “25 things every professional should know by age 25.”

Danny_Rubin_NewsToLiveBy

Danny Rubin is the creator of News To Live By, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice "hidden" in the news. Follow him @NewsToLiveBy.

Topics: New to the Workforce, Workplace