A top LinkedIn exec shares his best career advice for 20-somethings

Mike gamson linkedin
LinkedIn SVP of Global Solutions Mike Gamson LinkedIn Talent Solutions/YouTube

Over the course of almost a decade, Mike Gamson has become one of the most important people at LinkedIn.

As the SVP of Global Solutions, he oversees the talent, marketing, sales, and learning teams, making him responsible for about half of the professional social network’s roughly 10,000 employees across 30 countries.

Many of these employees are in their 20s, Gamson told Business Insider, and he finds himself regularly having conversations with young employees about their careers.

There are two pieces of advice he gives to all of them.

1. Determine what you are trying to pursue.

Anyone who’s been out of college for even a few months knows that if you try to plan your life in detail, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. But rather than recommend creating a five-year plan, Gamson tells 20-somethings to determine what is driving them.

“Meaning, if you know what you want to be or what you want to do, great,” Gamson said. “Then we can build a strategy for how to get there.”

“If you don’t know what you want to be or what you want to do, then let’s at least work backwards from what are things you’re interested in, what do you want your life to be like?”

When you determine what drives you and why, you have a better chance of finding objectives to strive toward.

2. Master your role before looking to advance.

Gamson said that while he’s determined it to be a universal problem among workers, he finds younger employees place primacy on the outward appearance of career advancement, rather than the actual advancement of skills and proficiency.

He said young employees to “are attracted to the next thing before they have really solidified their mastery of their current thing” because of this focus on the optics of résumé building.

“And so sometimes I think you have to go slow to go fast in your career,” Gamson said. “And when you build out a skills base early in your career, that includes being patient enough to truly master what you’re working on. I think it pays dividends later on.”

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