Careers

4 career secrets you didn't learn in school

Millennials, by and large, aspire to be successful. So how does this well-educated group get from point A to point B?

While more than 90 percent of millennials aspire to be leaders, according to a recent WorkplaceTrends.com survey, Generation Y still lacks one big thing: experience.

Millennials are the best-educated cohort of young adults in American history, but 43 percent said their weakest leadership skill is in industry experience, according to the survey.

But that does not have to hold them back on their climb to the top. Here are four secrets to career success that are not taught in school.

Be emotionally intelligent

"There are no college classes on being emotionally intelligent," said Scott Dobroski, associate director of corporate communications at online jobs marketplace Glassdoor, in an interview last year.

Things like reading a room and recognizing someone else's emotions are key to emotional intelligence. Lacking emotional intelligence can lead to awkward encounters or coming off as unprofessional. To avoid this, communicate clearly and in the most appropriate manner.

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Experts suggest learning by observing. Watch interaction between your boss and co-workers and pick up cues from them. Listen for tone and watch body language. Over time as you continue to use these skills, your emotional intelligence will improve.

Be personable not personal

Too much information can be too much. It's good to have a connection with your co-workers and take interest in them and their personal lives, but you don't want to overdo it.

"There should be a clear distinction between personal and professional," said Vicki Salemi, a careers expert at employment website Monster, in an interview last year. "You can be friendly, but you wouldn't want to hang out 24/7 where they know your entire life."

Avoiding the hot-button topics of religion, politics and sex is a given. Stories of drunken weekend escapades or even money conversations can make people uncomfortable. Sure, these may sound like no-brainers, but you'd be surprised. Don't talk about it if you don't want to talk about it with your boss.

Learn to manage up

You need to know how to build a healthy relationship with your superiors. The exchange should be mutually beneficial.

Learn what your manager values both personally and professionally. Figure out what he or she is ultimately trying to accomplish and be aware and available to contribute in that. Find ways to make his job easier while at the same time being able to express your goals.

Keep track of your accomplishments and be able to share those accolades with your boss using specific examples to quantify your success. A year-end review is the perfect time for this.

"Take the bull by the horns and keep track of accolades and progress throughout the year," Salemi said. "Toot your own horn because no one else will do it for you."

Plan ahead

It's important to plan and keep track of your current role. Always have that goal in the back of your mind to make sure you're setting yourself up for the next job you want.

It is your career, and you have to manage it. Be specific about where you see yourself in the future and be able to communicate that.

If you can't communicate your goals, then no one can help you get there to be in the leadership position toward which you're working.