5 Career Mistakes and how to Avoid Them

Most people these days are pretty career savvy and look to proactively manage their professional development and job opportunities.  Gone are the days of 30 years of service a a single and most professionals today understand that they are the first person responsible for guiding their career path in the direction they want it to take.  That being said, mistakes still happen…. all the time.  Here are some of the more common ones and how you can avoid them.

Leave your company because you can’t stand your boss

They say that people join a company and leave a boss.  So many people come to us looking for help with job search because they can’t stand their manager.  Our first response: “Don’t quit your job if all you want to to is break up with your boss.”  If you like the company you work for and they offer development opportunities and career advancement, then don’t leave until you look at options for other roles inside the organization.  Most larger companies have internal job postings so you can see what’s available.  If yours doesn’t, then talk to someone you trust and start a conversation about other options before you start packing your bags.

Do something really, really dumb

There’s a long list here… ranging from doing stupid stuff at the company holiday party through to surfing for porn on company time.  It’s pretty much all been done before, and yet, it never ceases to amaze.  There’s a chinese proverb that sums it up quite nicely: “If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it.”

And if it’s too late? Don’t try to hide from it.  Apologize, make amends if you can, and try to salvage your integrity, even if you can’t save your job.

Ask for a promotion before you’ve proved your worth

These are the folks who complain that they were passed over, are undervalued and not appreciated in their roles.  “We deserve a promotion!” They say emphatically.  Most of the time, these folks are solid performers… with enough time on their hands to complain about how hard they have it.  And the folks getting the promotions?  We never see them.  They’re too busy doing their job and the job that they want next.  The secret to getting a promotion?  It’s simple. Prove you’re worth it.

Criticize something without offering an alternative

There is nothing that drives people crazy more than someone who sits at the back of a room and criticizes others work without offering an alternative.  Maybe you’re naturally a ‘Black Hat’* and that’s great – we need you, but if you spend all your time shooting down other people’s ideas rather than offering to be part of the solution, you’re not going to have many allies in the room….  Instead, offer constructive criticism and propose well thought out alternatives to show that you care about finding the best solution to the problem.

Ignore your network

Your network, inside and outside of your company, is the most powerful, and possibly most overlooked, key to your long-term career success.  These are the people with whom you have developed relationships over your time in the company.  They know your work and appreciate it, they come to you with questions, answers, and all the information in between.  Knowing how to foster and develop and strong professional network will support your career development and will just plain make your day-to-day work easier and a whole lot more fun.  And if “networking” sounds superficial or trite, remember it’s as simple as keeping in touch with your colleagues, and genuinely offering to help them out when you can.

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