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Three Ways To Launch a Successful Career

The poor job market has created a turbulent start for many young people entering the workforce. Now, a new study presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting this week described three critical characteristics of people from 18 to 30 that lead to career success.

"Although structural factors like industry, region, etc. are undoubtedly important, these three characteristics are found to be particularly significant career transition resources," said Mike Vuolo, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University. In a nutshell, you need to head out of the gate like gangbusters. But here are the details:

Have a clear career path. Young adults (from 18 to 30) who have high aspirations for themselves and were clear in what they wanted to achieve were more likely to be employed when they were in their early to mid 30s than those who were more indecisive in their career goals. They also have higher hourly wages. "Career goal certainty is critical because uncertainty could cause people to jump between fields or take a job with less prestige or pay," says Vuolo. Interestingly, the group that lowered their aspirations and certainty over the years had the highest odds of unemployment and the lowest wages post-recession and the most months of unemployment throughout the recession (2007-2009).
Educational aspirations. People who continued to aspire to have higher degrees in education, even into their 30s, were more likely to be employed in their 30s.

Job search activities. People who used a variety of tactics to find a job were more likely to be employed. These tactics included the use of formal connections, such a school job counselor, coworkers, an employer, or an internship, the use of informal techniques like partners, relatives, friends, and neighbors, and the use of direct techniques like newspaper or computer job ads, employment agencies, and job fairs.

Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist who writes for the New York Times, national magazines and websites. Follow her on twitter.
photo courtesy of flickr user Charline Tetiyevsky