25 things every young professional should know by 25

Do you understand the paystub that comes with your paycheck? Can you negotiate your salary? Young pros, see how many items you can check off this list.

If you want a job straight out of college, don’t knock on Kirk McDonald’s door.

McDonald, the president of a tech company in New York City, wrote a brutally honest op-ed in The Wall Street Journal called “Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won’t Hire You.” He believes most college graduates don’t have the one skill that’s in high demand: computer programming.

During your first few years in the real world, what else should you take time to learn? Here are 25 things every professional should know by age 25:

25. “Definitely” is not spelled “definately.”

24. You should read an entire apartment lease before you sign it.

23. An Excel PivotTable will change your life.

22. A cover letter should add color and personality to your resume—not summarize it.

21. Everyone likes to receive praise, but the smartest young adults actively seek constructive criticism.

20. The days of a college syllabus are long gone. If you’re waiting for someone to give you direction, have a seat. You’ll be there a while.

19. Multitasking is great, but some moments require your undivided attention.

18. Take LinkedIn seriously.

17. Understand the paystub that accompanies your paycheck.

16. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, but people who do break through tend to start their days while everyone else is still asleep.

15. There’s a difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA. Know what it is.

14. Even though college is over, you should still find extracurricular activities. Among many reasons, clubs and organizations are terrific places to network.

13. You’re never too busy to write a thank-you note.

12. Learn how to negotiate your salary.

11. The ability to follow through on assignments can take you from a 25-year-old newbie to an essential team member.

10. You’ll make more money than some of your friends, and less than others. The only thing that matters is that you pay your bills on time.

9. Bring a lunch to work. It’s healthier and cheaper than eating out.

8. Don’t step into an interview room without having done research on the company and thought of questions for the employer.

7. Learn to use Dropbox and love it.

6. Treat interns with respect. They’ll provide you with management training and ease your workload.

5. To impress older business associates, ask about their career paths. You may also learn a thing or two.

4. Under-promise and over-deliver.

3. The less you write, the tighter the message. The less you talk, the stronger the speech.

2. The only failure in your 20s is inaction. Everything else is trial and error.

1. You’re halfway through the most formative decade of your life. You don’t need all the answers, but you must keep asking questions. Start with this one: What’s something new I can learn right now?

Danny Rubin is a PR professional for Rubin Communications Group in Virginia Beach. He also manages News To Live By, a blog for millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons hidden in the day’s top stories. You can follow him at @dannyhrubin and @NewsToLiveBy. A version of this article originally appeared on News To Live By.

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