Careers

The ultimate guide to getting a job in your 20s

If you're a young professional in the U.S., you know that getting a well-paying job in today's economy is no small feat.

Some 11.5 percent of professionals between roughly age 20 to 36 are unemployed, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and even more are underemployed, a lingering effect of the 2008 financial crisis.

But though finding a well-paying job can be difficult, there are several strategies experts say can set you up for success. CNBC compiled the top career advice for young people from a range of experts and business leaders.

Here are nine ways to get a good job in your 20s:

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1. Put pen to paper and write down your career goals

If you don't have a job, or don't have the job you want, try an exercise a former Google career coach says has helped hundreds of people.

It's called a "mind map," according to Jenny Blake, or a visual diagram of all the areas of your life you'd like to work on.

For each area of your life, write down specific actions you want to take to improve. It helps you visualize your goals and can point you to an industry are passionate about.

Additionally, Google executive Peter Roper suggests creating two lists. One, a list of the companies you'd love to work for and another, a list of skills you have that make you qualified to work there.

Then, research each company and email a hiring manager there. Ask if they are hiring in the area you'd like to work in and highlight your relevant experience and skills, he says.

2. Make sure your resume is as polished as possible

Though it may be tempting, don't send out a generic resume to companies. Recruiters will toss it in the trash.

Instead, tailor your resume to highlight the experience and skills you have that best fit that specific company. It takes more time, but it boosts your chances of getting hired. Also, triple-check your resume for typos or errors. Many managers say they won't bother finishing a resume after they find a mistake.

Don't be afraid to add some personality by highlighting unique skills and interests you may have, top IBM executive Harriet Green says.

3. Create and optimize your LinkedIn profile

A well-crafted page shows that you are serious about your online image and your professional job.

Simple updates like adding a professional-looking photo and including your location can increase your chances of being noticed by recruiters, according to best-selling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch.

Data shows that profiles that include a photo are 21 times more likely to be viewed than those without one.

"If you maximize your LinkedIn profile, you may not be looking for your next job. It could come find you," Welch tells CNBC.

4. Know your elevator pitch

Business is always personal, says Brian Wong, a 26-year-old CEO whose company has secured more than $32 million in funding.

"Your goal should be to get people to invest in you," he writes in his book "The Cheat Code."

Nothing gets someone more interested in you and your career than a great elevator pitch.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, has some specific advice on how to pitch yourself.

Your elevator pitch "shouldn't be a condensed version of your resume," he writes in "How Google Works."

Instead, a good elevator pitch highlights the most interesting parts of your resume along with what you want to do. It also includes the impact you will have on the company and what makes you unique.

5. Get out and talk to people

Sitting in front of a computer applying to online job postings all day isn't going to work, Google's Roper tells CNBC. While it's a necessary part of any job search, it shouldn't be your only strategy.

Dozens of career experts and business leaders have told CNBC the same advice — go out and meet people.

It could start with a well-crafted cold email, a strategy that helped Roper and numerous other entrepreneurs and professionals. Or it could be a random conversation with an acquaintance or a conversation with stranger at a networking event.

"You can't be afraid," says Adam Lyons, a young CEO who got a reply from billionaire Mark Cuban just 20 minutes after sending him a cold email.

And don't forget to follow up with the people you meet, whether it's a handwritten note or an email. Like it or not, business is personal.

6. Make the most of your current situation by learning new skills or launching a side project

If you aren't at your dream job, don't despair. Feeling unsatisfied at work can be part of a normal professional cycle, especially in the beginning, Blake says.

Often, it means you're eager to learn or grow. Pitch a new assignment to your boss or volunteer to help on a different kind of project at work.

Alternatively, devote more time to a hobby related to the career you want. Research shows that having a hobby reduces stress and boosts creative thinking.

For example, one 24-year-old who was recently unemployed found that launching a side project not only made her happier, it helped her land her next job.

7. Present yourself in the best way possible

"Like it or not, presentation matters," Wong writes. "Your brand is only as good as its presentation: How it looks, sounds and feels."

Invest in a few professional wardrobe staples such as a well-fitted blazer and a good pair of work pants. And just accept this now: You can't wear leggings to work.

Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul and judge on ABC's "Shark Tank" says she pays special attention to body language. For example, she says that every professional should make eye contact when speaking to someone.

Giving your body language a boost can be as simple as adopting better posture or using more hand gestures when communicating, experts say.

8. Think about your career over a 5-year period

With the daily demands workers have to manage, it's easy to become exclusively focused on the short-term. But according to Googl's Schmidt, that's an error that could be preventing you from getting the most out of your professional life.

"For anything important," Schmidt says, "put it in a five year context."

Billionaire and legendary investor Warren Buffett always thinks of his investments in thelong-term, and it's made him rich. Adopting the same strategy for your career, the Google executive says, can yield great returns.

In fact, he has a three-step strategy to make sure you're thinking along a broad horizon.

9. Don't be afraid to take calculated risks

It's easy to get into a routine of working at a mediocre job and feeling mediocre about your life. But if you want to get ahead, business leaders say you have to be willing to make a change.

"If you're passionate about something, go for it," says Jennifer Hyman, CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway. "Because people are great at what they love and when they're the happiest."

One 27-year-old, for example, used all of his savings to start a snack business from his living room, not knowing whether the business was going to succeed. About a year later, he had made seven figures.

Risk-taking has also helped big names in business advance their own careers. Having the courage to challenge her boss in a meeting helped Ursula Burns, chairwoman and former CEO of Xerox, fast-track her career. And Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg says the best business advice he ever received was to take more risks.

"The luckiest people in business are those that are prepared to take the greatest risks," says Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. "We can all create our own luck by taking the necessary risks to open the door to change, progression and success."

Check out the career advice leadership expert and best-selling author Suzy Welch says she wishes she knew in her 20s