Starting or thinking about a new career is an exciting prospect it is often riddled with anxiety, fear, and doubt. Unfortunately for a lot of young professionals (including myself), we started our careers or had to make significant career changes in the middle of a global pandemic and economic downturn.
The three we find ourselves worrying about include:
- Financial issues
- Job security
- Failing to meet career goals
And yes – regardless of the above, as society somewhat returns to “normal”, my peers and I are indeed looking for organizations and leaders who demonstrate flexibility, are values and mission-driven, and have the heart to grow and develop the next generation of leaders. Perhaps it was naïve to believe I could have both. But as someone who has recently started their career in the world of HR consulting, I can firmly state that the support of my network and my colleagues here at Elevated completely transformed (and will continue to transform) my early career experience. It is possible!
So how can leaders help young professionals elevate in their careers?
1. Help us feel like our voices are heard and valued.
Starting in the workplace as a junior employee is like being at the bottom of the barrel. At times, our perspectives and lived experiences are overshadowed by the notion that we don’t have enough “work experience” to truly make an impact in the workplace.
Leaders can create opportunities and spaces for us to voice our concerns and ask questions about organizational policies and practices, the decisions that affect us, and how leaders are impacting our career goals. When leaders hear these concerns – take them into action! Reflect on those policies and procedures that may not be inclusive and pivot on projects to implement a new change.
Additionally, consistently fostering dialogue about expectations, workload, career development, and care about us on a personal level will build a solid relationship of trust, and psychological safety, and ward off burnout.
2. Create mentorship opportunities.
The skills and experiences of leaders are so important and are the key to raising the next generation. If a leader sees an opportunity to mentor someone who is a junior in their field – take up the rope! Moreover, encourage team members or senior leadership to invest in the development of a young professional. The impact of mentorship is significant and can help us increase our confidence, learn to self-reflect, improve goal setting, and gain exposure to new and different perspectives. Chances are, anyone who is a leader had this early on their career. The pandemic hasn’t changed this, but consider this a nudge to make get conscious about how you can support someone new in the profession.
3. Understand where we are coming from.
We are being handed a world that kind of sucks – war, climate change, women’s rights being threatened, increased costs of living and inflation have us worried for our future and what it means for our careers. Understanding and empathizing with what we have been through or are going through will better equip leaders to support our needs and understand the social, economic, political, and technological aspects of current issues and what this means for future leaders and organizations.
Furthermore, this can help leaders develop frameworks that address a range of topics such as mental health and gender equity matters to encourage a more inclusive environment where we feel better equipped and supported when encountering difficult matters.
While this is not an exhaustive list – it is a good start to get leaders thinking of the complex issues young professionals are facing in a post-pandemic world and how they can better support us.
Angel Sansregrett is a Junior HR Partner with Elevated HR Solutions. Angel’s focus is helping our clients develop programming and ideas for inclusive cultures.