When it comes to workplace blunders, there are the small ones that are easy to recover from and then there are the big, career killing ones that can render you persona non grata. Whether you are just starting out or have been in your career for years, here are five career mistakes you want to avoid at all costs:
1. Being too ambitious
Everyone wants to get ahead, but the successful ones know their limitations. Of course you want to move up the corporate ladder but you don’t want to do it unless you are ready. “Taking on a job or promotion that requires a huge leap in skill and/or level of visibility that you’ve not adequately prepared yourself for is not always worth the risk,” says Devin Lemoine, president of Success Labs, a management consulting firm. “Common consequences of this may be that success in your role is tough to attain and that you quickly show your inexperience and weaknesses.” Not to mention that if your problems in the new role are visible it can greatly diminish your chances of moving up within the organization. “It’s more strategic to first work on yourself and bridge your gaps in knowledge, skills, and experience and leap a little later,” says Lemoine.
2. Burning Bridges Early In A Career
According to Nathan Parcells, vice president of marketing at Looksharp, the internship and entry level job website, the average millennial will changes job 6.3 times between the ages of 18 and 25. While employers are much more willing to accept job hopping from the younger folk, a lot depends on how they do it. “While career exploration is important, many young professionals underestimate how small their industry is and leave jobs on bad terms when they don’t have to,” says Parcells. “If you are early in your career, be deliberate about your exits. Be candid, pick an exit timeline and stick to it and put in the extra work to ensure a smooth transition for you and your employer.” Just like a bad reputation can hang around for a long time, maintaining a strong reputation even at companies you leave is “incredibly important,” he says.
3. Getting Cliquey With Colleagues
Human nature doesn’t go out the window when we enter the workplace so it’s understandably that like-minded people tend to gravitate toward each other. And while workplace bonds can be deep and long lasting, get too close with one group of people and it can hurt your career, particularly if that group falls out of favor or are part of a round of layoffs, says Becki Saltzman, author of Living Curiously: How to Use Curiosity to Be Remarkable and Do Good Stuff. “Joining a clique at work can provide a sense of belonging and security,” says Saltzman. “However, workplace cliques can be career killers when you become branded for your peers and not for yourself.” A better strategy is to make friends across the entire office. Not only will it build your name and reputation within the company, but the more people you know the greater your connections and networking opportunities.
4. Leading A Major Turnaround Or Change Within An Organization
Being in charge of an overhaul of an organization can be a dream job for many, but unless you are coming in as a consultant, it can also be troublesome to your career. Change is hard for many people to accept and once the dust settles, it may be hard to get the support when trying to run the day to day operations, says Lemoine. “Being an agent of change often requires you to make tough decisions as well as take unwilling people through the change,” says Lemoine. “The risk is that you many unintentionally become associated with the growing pains and dissatisfaction with the change.” Lemoine says a way around that is to ensure your company has a plan for you in another role once the change is complete.
5. Dismissing Feedback, Criticism
Regardless of your level within a company or in your career, there is always going to be someone that is more accomplished than you or has done it better. These people can provide you with invaluable advice and feedback, but you must be willing to accept it. “Working in a professional environment is a constant act of growing and improving,” says Parcells. “If you have strong opinions you should fight for them, but likewise you need to be open to new ideas and strategies. If you never learn to accept feedback, you’ll kill your career before it begins.”