20 things to do for your career by the time you’re 30

There’s no doubt about it – your 20s are a time to remember. It’s a whole decade dedicated to growth, fun, success, letdowns, and questioning. Where should I live? What relationships do I maintain? Am I where I want to be in my career? If you feel there’s still more to achieve in your working life, or you’re desperate for a career shake-up, there’s no time like the present to make big (or small) changes.

For all you 20-somethings out there, here’s a list of 20 things you might like to tick off your career to-do list before you reach the big 3-0!

20 things to do for your career by the time you’re 30

1. Figure out your career non-negotiables. Whether it’s the type of company or the potential for career progression, decide on what you definitively need and want out of your career and don’t settle for anything less when making major career moves.

2. Do something that challenges you. Don’t accept boredom in your job – put your hand up for extra work and pitch new projects, or move on to a job that offers greater responsibility and stimuli.

3. Volunteer. You won’t only be giving back to the community, you’ll be gaining invaluable skills to use in your current role, and add to your resume to land future roles. Volunteer jobs are easy to find with SEEK Volunteer.

4. Keep your resume in check. Updating your resume regularly with new achievements and credentials will keep you prepared for any new opportunity that arises.

5. Quit a job that’s bringing you down. With so much of your time spent at work, now’s the time put a stop to negative work environments and seek something you deserve.

6. Learn how to network like a champ. Whether it’s attending industry events or asking for an introduction, strong networking skills can lead you to new career opportunities or help you break into a new industry.

7. Study while you work. If you’re looking for a career change, want to refresh existing knowledge or need to upskill, studying an online course could be the best of both worlds. With flexible options, you can study and work at the same time.

8. Master those ‘soft skills’. You need loads of self-awareness and maturity to want to improve your listening skills or learn how to negotiate better, but it’s definitely worth working on.

9. Look after your health and wellbeing. Running yourself into the ground can actually be counter-productive. Tune in to yourself daily and find ways to be kinder to yourself.

10. Craft an engaging elevator pitch. Being able to summarise yourself in a few sentences can help you know who you are professionally and what you can offer potential employers in the future.

11. Become an expert. If there’s a work-related topic that you’re interested in, learn all you can about it and own it as your specialty. With passion, knowledge, and practise, you’ll see your confidence (and maybe even your pay-packet) rise.

12. Gather references. Email past and present work associates for referrals to use on professional profiles, websites or resumes. Their opinions may give you surprising insights.

13. Send an email to a professional you admire. Move from fan status to professional colleague – let someone who’s inspired or motivated you know how they’ve contributed to your professional development.

14. Mentor a newcomer. With all the knowledge you’ve gained over the years, there are many tips or pieces of advice you could impart that could help a graduate or newcomer to the industry. You’ll reap the benefits too.

15. Refine your online presence. Make sure you have an upstanding online profile so when your boss, a colleague or potential employer googles you, they’re impressed by what they see.

16. Master your handshake. A firm, confident handshake is often overlooked but can actually be the positive first impression you make on a potential new employer or important business contact. Practise it!

17. Take feedback on board. Whether your performance reviews are standard practice or delivered informally, learning from feedback by shifting unproductive behaviours is an important way to develop yourself and your career.

18. Learn to manage up. Don’t grin through unreasonable demands from your manager. Being able to communicate what you need to do your job effectively will work in both of your favours.

19. Put in the hard yards. Don’t expect to achieve your career goals without buckling down and putting in the time and effort. Get into your workplace early, tick those tasks off the list, and take initiative to do something that hasn’t been asked of you.

20. Switch off when you’re on leave. If you’re doing the hard yards and kicking goals at work, you deserve to leave it all where it belongs when you’re kilometres away on annual leave. Enjoy what you’ve earned!

Need advice for changing careers in your 20s or 30s?