The Career Mistakes Women Make in Their Twenties

Career Advice | Common Mistakes Women Make in Their Twenties | The Sophisticated Gal
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Our twenties are a time when we learn a lot about ourselves and are so important in shaping our career. There’s no handbook for how to start your career, most of us just learn as we go and we probably make a few mistakes along the way. Making mistakes in your career is totally OK and we all do it! Sometimes they are the best way for us to learn.

Today, I wanted to share some of the top career mistakes that a lot of women make (including myself) when starting out in our careers to help you avoid making these mistakes in the future.

Mistake #1: Taking a Job Just for the Money

I would love more money as I’m sure many of us would but that doesn’t mean that you should take a job just because of the money. Taking a job that you don’t enjoy or see yourself growing in will eventually start to weigh on you and make you unhappy. While money is definitely something to consider (because we all gotta pay those bills), it isn’t the only reason you should take a job.
Aside from the salary, you should also be asking yourself the following questions to help you decide whether or not to take the job:
  1. Do I agree with the company mission and vision?
  2. Is the company culture something I see myself working well in? 
  3. Are the job responsibilities something I enjoy?
  4. Can I see myself advancing in this role and in the company?

Mistake #2: Listening to Other’s Opinions and Not Thinking About Yours

There are so many things in life that we’re told we should do, like going to college or working a 9-to-5 job but that isn’t always the right thing for all of us. Sometimes going to college isn’t something that we need to do to be successful or to feel like we’re fulfilling our dreams.
Thinking about your passions and your goals is so important, because if you don’t do this you’ll probably just be fulfilling someone else’s dreams or plans for your future. Write down what your goals are for your career and what actions you can take to achieve them. Ultimately, it is up to you to follow your passion and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Mistake #3: Not Realizing Your Worth

This is a mistake that I definitely made early on in my career and I think a lot of other young women do as well. I didn’t feel confident in myself when I started my first job out of college, but I was worth more than I realized. We all bring something unique to the workforce and have great skills. Don’t be afraid to realize what your worth is and fight for what you want – whether it’s a higher salary or more vacation time.

Mistake #4: Not Having a Mentor

I can’t imagine where I would be without a mentor early on in my career and even today. Having a mentor has changed my life in so many ways and has given me so much more confidence in my career. A mentor can be someone you meet on the job or someone you meet through networking. I also talk about the importance of having a mentor in my post about the Professional Habits to Develop in Your Twenties.

Mistake #5: Working Too Much

With everything being online nowadays, it’s almost impossible not to feel like you have to be near your phone 24/7. I am 100% guilty of this and looking at my phone way too much. While showing that you are a dedicated employee and team player is really important, it’s also important to look out for your personal health so you don’t get burnt out. Try to set a schedule for yourself and leave around the same time every day. Establishing a routine can help you feel less anxious and is so essential to your health.
Looking for more tips on how to have a better work-life balance? Check out my work-life balance tips and also my post about how to de-stress after work!


What lessons did you learn early on in your career? 

Career Advice for Women | Common Career Mistakes Women Make in Their Twenties | The Sophisticated Gal


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  1. Yes to these! I saw so many friends going through these situations. I was the primary breadwinner for my family through most of my twenties, so I didn’t have the luxury to be choosy when it came to work. I stuck with the same job for close to twelve years. 🙂

  2. I am getting ready to switch careers and I wish I would have followed my heart awhile ago. I have learned the mistakes I made now and refuse to do it again.

  3. Definitely things to think about…

    #2 can be a bit tricky. Don’t discard what others say out of hand, but don’t give it too much weight… And know that sometimes it takes a while to understand yourself. After all, we live in the context of our own family, culture, etc… and can accept (or reject!) the assumptions we grow up with before we know what we would be without them.

    I grew up knowing that I would have a desk job – after all, that’s what everyone in my family did, that’s what my education prepared me for, that’s what my friends expected to do with their lives… and it took a long time to understand that I need to move, and I need creative work that uses my hands, as well as my mind. And, oddly – a high school assessment had pointed me in that direction, said I should be an artist (who gets told that in high school?) and I had discounted that!

    So look at *all* input… but then, look carefully within yourself. It’s your life.

  4. I LOVE how you laid this all out and these are some of the most common mistakes especially taking a job for money without even realizing our worth. It’s so easy to undervalue who we are. Love your blog!

  5. There are so many people who just take a job for the money – I honestly don’t know how they do it because a job is so much more rewarding when you love what you do!


  6. It seems like every woman is bound to make at least one of these mistakes during her career. I definitely had trouble realizing my worth in a career setting but now I am better about it!

  7. Work/life balance is such an important thing! So many young women want to work hard to impress their bosses and co-workers but I think knowing when to step back is so much more important than constantly being on the clock!

  8. Girl, I love this post! Just recently in February I decided to quit my job because of the reasons you listed. Since then, I really focused on meeting with my mentor and realizing my worth. I took a step back from working full-time (I am so thankful I was able to do this) and I focused on myself (I still am) to figure out what I really want to do with my life. Our 20’s are an adventure for figuring out life. Know your worth and if other’s don’t see that, it’s time to move on to a better place.

  9. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know your worth. I just graduated and went through the interview process with a company I really wanted to work for. They offered me $2.50 more an hour than what I made the summer before WITHOUT my college degree. They would not budge on the wage so I said no. It was the most empowering feeling because not only did I see the company’s true colors, but I saw mine. You DESERVE better.

  10. I couldn’t agree more with this post. Women in their twenties do not have a sense of what they deserve, and it’s an uphill battle trying to claw it back once you’ve given it away – your salary, your work-life balance, your seniority, etc. I totally agree that there’s a list of questions that you have to promise you’ll ask every time you’re considering taking a job, and that if you still feel dubious about something, you should not make a decision until the matter’s at rest. We spend most of our waking lives at work, so we deserve to negotiate what matters to us!

  11. I’m definitely guilty of not negotiating more vacation time or a higher salary AND I fall into the trap of working too much with no overtime pay. I won’t do this anymore, starting now!

  12. Ooh # 3 is sooo true! It’s so important to research the industry pay to make sure your are competitive. And it’s okay to reject a job if they can’t offer you what is rightfully deserved.

  13. This is so spot on! I feel like women think they have to compromise on worth to get ahead in their careers. I hate talking about money with other people but it is so important to stand up for and believe in your worth. Great post!

  14. I would take off not having a mentor from this list! I think thats a luxury that most will NEVER see! Which is totally unfortunate but I have yet to find a solid “how-to” guide to actually find and secure a proper mentor. Instead I would say finding a tribe of like minded women with career goals that support you. It’s more realistic. But I totally agree, if you can find one get one!

  15. I felt I was lucky to even have a job, so I have been underpaid for most of my twenties. The biggest mistake in that was not realizing my worth. I’m in my thirties now and it’s still difficult sometimes.

  16. All of these are so true! I definitely know that I can over work myself and I’m not even out of college yet. Also, I need to get off my phone/laptop every once and awhile! Such a great post, and definitely things I’ll keep in mind when I’m looking for my first adult job haha
    xo, G

  17. I definitely made the second mistake, a job just for the money, a few years ago! It turned out to be an ultimate disaster and I used to come home crying. Glad I got myself out of that situation!

  18. All of these points are spot on but especially #3. So many women do not realize their worth and it should be their top priority!

  19. Working too much is definitely a battle I have fought! Switching jobs to something I loved with a better work-life balance has been one of the best things I have done.

  20. The money things is SO big! Look for a job where you can grow and be appreciated! Also knowing your worth is KEY!

  21. I love these tips! Especially the ones about knowing your worth and not following your friends and family’s path for you. It can be so hard to get your loved ones on board with your career choices when it goes their opinions and experiences.


  22. Ah, your point about working too much totally resonates with me. When I was at my first job I thought I needed to be at work all the time. Now that a few years have passed and I’ve moved on to different jobs, I look back and wish that I would have realized that there are other things to life than impressing your boss when you’re 20 and just out of college.

  23. #1 on your list reminds me of a decision I made for my first job after graduating from college. My first job didn’t offer much, but I took it because besides it being near my home, the job description really enticed me. I ended up working there for almost five years, until I had to move to the US.

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