Careers aren’t made overnight, but a few mistakes can easily derail your career pretty quickly. Whether you’re complacent in your current position, or you’re swept up in office politics, there are many snafus seasoned professionals can run into.
“People make a lot of mistakes in their careers, some are small and can be recovered from with an apology or the passage of time,” says Julie Bauke, career strategist, president of The Bauke Group, and author of Stop Peeing on our Shoes: Avoiding the 7 Mistakes that Screw Up your Job Search. “Others can fully derail your career and your reputation.”
From blowing off networking opportunities to aligning with the wrong colleague, here’s a look at the five damaging career mistakes to avoid:
1. Not taking advantage of the tools at hand
When taking on a new role, most people set their goals on doing a great job, learning as much as possible and hopefully moving up to a higher position. But often people fail at meeting these goals, simply because they don’t take advantage of the tools and resources that are readily at their disposable. “We offer a lot of really great training tools, a lot of which are offered online,” says Christy Palfy, recruiting manager at Progressive. “Yet a lot of people don’t sign up and take advantage of that training.” By utilizing any tools available to you, you are able to stretch in the job you have today but also advance within the company because you have learned new skills.
2. Being focused solely on your job
You want to do a great job in your current position and you want to show you’re a hard worker, but the work can’t stop once you leave the office. Many people are “working for the weekend” and as a result miss opportunities to develop and grow and become valuable to the company, says Bauke. “It is imperative that all professionals always understand what is going on in their industry, company, and profession so that they can continue to stay aligned with what is needed,” she says. “Our ability to stay relevant and marketable is fully the responsibility of the individual.”
3. Not keeping your emotions and behavior in check
Often we spend more hours at work than at home, and as a result we forge deep relationships with many of our co-workers and bosses. While those relationships may introduce a level of casualness ,your behavior inside and outside of the office will have an impact on your career if you don’t keep it professional. Some of those career killers, according to Anthony Graziano, regional managing director Randstad Professionals include having an inappropriate relationship with someone ion the office, getting inebriated at company outings, or being insensitive to someone or overreacting emotionally to a work scenario. While you may want to throw your computer across the
room in frustration actually acting on that feeling will be a surefire way to lose your job and reputation.
4. Blowing off opportunities to network
Networking doesn’t stop once you land the job but instead should become a way of life, particularly if you want to move up in your company. According to Palfy far often people work in the same company for years yet they don’t know what other people in the organization actually do. Whether you are networking at an official event or just chatting with someone in the elevator, Palfy says you should always have your elevator pitch ready and share what you do when meeting new people in your job. Another great way to get access to different people is to participate in company organized groups, outings or teams.
5. Choosing the wrong team
Power ebbs and flows in organization and if you align with the wrong person you could end up on the chopping block if something goes wrong. Yes you want to be loyal to your boss and be a team player with your co-workers but you should always keep it professional. If you are working with a disgruntled boss it’s ok to listen to him or her but don’t get involved in any gossip or office politics. “I have seen situations where people were aligned with the wrong boss and when that boss was removed from the situation, whether a transfer, a promotion or getting fired that person was then negatively affected by that,” says Graziano. Align with the wrong person and best case you’ll have an uncomfortable time at work. Worst case: you’ll lose your job along with your boss.