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What Career Mistakes Do Women In Their 20s Make?
IMAGE COURTESY/ MADAMENOIRE. Most young people end up making career mistakes because they lack coaching and mentorship while trying to figure out their career moves.
Money & Career

What Career Mistakes Do Women In Their 20s Make? 

It’s nearly four months till the end of the year but even with the current ongoing Coronavirus pandemic that has shut down the economy globally and left most people taking pay cuts or losing jobs, there are people who are also swapping careers, jobs and trying to get into new industries or opportunities.

However, this year has created an opportunity for most people to take a step back and relook into their passions, careers, opportunities, jobs, work and education. This is to ascertain if what they are doing is marketable and a market they would want to be in for the longest run.

Nonetheless, for young people trying to get into the job market, looking for jobs or trying to swap jobs, there are mistakes most people make in their 20s that sometimes may take time to get through and to some these mistakes are career ending.

But, what mistakes do people, women in particular make in their 20s and how can they avoid these mistakes? Scovia Ouma- Mwenda, a career coach and HR Practitioner highlights the successes and pitfalls for career women in their 20s.

‘’This is a time when a woman should be exploring as much as possible, enjoying all the possibilities at hand so as to surely identify what their passion is and as soon as they identify what they enjoy doing, then everything else will fall into place. Work will be easier, enjoyable and they would end up giving their best resulting into automatic career growth.’’ Explains Scovia Ouma- Mwenda.

IMAGE: Scovia Ouma- Mwenda. She is a certified Career Coach and HR Practitioner.
IMAGE: Scovia Ouma- Mwenda. She is a certified Career Coach and HR Practitioner.

For most women in their 20s, the common career struggles most tend to face or deal with include trying to understand what career they ought to choose and unsure is that is what they want to do, some tend to settle for a career by looking at ‘the now’ as opposed to ‘the future’ and the big picture involving what they are settling for while others due to poor research on the job market or career path end up choosing a career informed by other reasons other than passion.

While most end up getting first jobs in their 20s bracket, what mistakes do they make when looking for a job, starting a new job, seeking a promotion or quitting the first job?

When it comes to looking for a job, most women in this age bracket tend to not build a good personal brand, from grooming, what they offer and to their confidence.

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‘’Some tend to have poor communication skills for instance your CV should represent you effectively as it is your first contact with a potential employer, what have you named your documents? Your email address, how have you also addressed the potential recipient of your application, such things matter.’’ Notes Scovia Ouma- Mwenda.

While starting a new job also comes with lots of excitement, there are some mistakes that may come with starting a new job that one may overlook or ignore.

Sometimes, most young women tend to not be bold enough to ask for expected deliverables, some hardly ask for help from more experienced colleagues so as to learn things in the organization quickly and others stop investing and building on their skills as soon as they get their first job.

‘’When it comes to negotiating the salary or seeking a promotion, most young women tend to have poor preparation for these meetings, for instance some will have wrong justification for their request that does not speak to the company vision or cannot be substantiated.  Do your decision makers know your contribution towards the company’s quantifiable success? Also choosing the right time and place to put across such requests matters a lot and what one should put into consideration.’’ Adds Scovia Ouma- Mwenda.

While sometimes young people tend to feel or live like they have the time or can undo mistakes within a specific time, some have burnt bridges while quitting jobs that have in some way affected their career or created a stumbling block to where they are meant to be headed.

When quitting a job, ensure that you quit professionally, no one should burn bridges as the workplace is such a small and global village and you never know where you will meet your current employer or colleagues.

Before quitting because of a work conflict or a particular person, ensure that first this could be resolved through dialogue and remember that the same experience can also happen again in your future job and ask yourself if you will keep quitting each time a conflict arises.

However, when quitting because of inconsequential raise from a competitor, you need to consider what the difference in pay is in comparison to the job satisfaction and your career plan.

According to Scovia Ouma –Mwenda, ‘’By the time a woman gets to her 30s, she should at least identify what line in their career they would want to pursue long term, have a career plan complete with realistic milestones and should acquire necessary qualifications based on the career plan they have in place.’’

With the COVID-19 pandemic, so many things have changed and even how people will be looking for jobs and booking interviews now will definitely be very different, so what lessons can young women either looking for first jobs or seeking to swap jobs can keep in mind?

‘’COVID-19 pandemic has brought big lessons to all of us not necessarily new graduates, however, what I would advise young people is, to always ensure that their first encounter with a potential employer is memorable, since face to face interviews are cut down and may be non-existence. Ensure that you are presenting yourself well enough to be remembered, to convince employers they need your services or expertise or skills.

More opportunities are digital thus one needs to sharpen their digital skills like a simple zoom interview could give one a job if well aced with no struggles and seamless connection, a good poise and excellent presentation skills.


This is the time to look for opportunities online, use your skills to market yourself for instance by offering free training on a skill that you are good at which will end up putting your name on the market.

Lastly, look to diversify your skills like some industries have been drastically affected for instance the hospitality industry thus shrinking the job market, ask yourself what else can you do with those skills, do you still have to wait to be employed or can you look to employ yourself? What else can one do other than the skills that is not selling during this period?’’ Elucidates Scovia Ouma – Mwenda.

There are women who prefer to start a family before having a career or a stable one for that matter while there are some who prefer to have a career first before getting a family of getting married, regardless, both arrangements are still okay and no one should demoralize the other for the path they decide to choose.

Scovia Ouma – Mwenda had a similar experience. She says, ‘’I started my family in my 20s and I have no regrets at all. What matters is what your career plan is and if you can balance both and ensure that they grow in tandem. It also depends on what is important to an individual, is it building your career or family, have you found a good partner who will support your career growth too and on top of that there are good employers who have programs that support family growth and thus one can build both together, allowing them to enjoy both worlds while still young.’’

Not everybody has their career life budding in their 20s, in fact most people get to start engaging in jobs or opportunities while in their late 20s and this sometimes makes those who are yet to figure out their career life panic or work through their career ladder in and with fear.

It is never too late until you rule yourself out by saying so. If one gets to a place of anxiety with where their career is going, it is advisable that they go back to the drawing board and review what they want against what they currently have.

Once one is sure and has identified their path then they also have to invest in resources to build on the same and this can be done with a host of outside resources such as identifying a certified career coach or mentor to the journey with them.

But, this time for a woman is a time to try explore opportunities, ideas and things that one finds passion on and should you make any mistakes, the best you should do is learn from them.

SCOVIA OUMA –MWENDA is a certified career coach and HR Practitioner, who is passionate about supporting others in building their career. She has a 15 years experience in HR Administration and her purpose is to coach, mentor and help others learn and unlearn things in their professional journey.

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  1. Chandra

    Great one from Scovia!! Definitely a good read!!! Hope this is a one in many articles for us to share to many people the world over!!

    1. Scovia

      Thanks Chandra! And yes, there is much more to come.

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