Career Mistakes You May Be Making Without Even Knowing It
Navigating a career can be a rocky road: even when things seem to be going well, you never know when a bump in the road can push you off course. However, many people commit career mistakes without even realizing they are heading down the road of self-destruction. Keep your career on course by avoiding these nine common career mistakes you might not even realize you are doing:
Acting Too Competitively
The career world can be competitive, but it’s a fine line between standing up for yourself and putting others down to make yourself look better. It can be tempting to compare yourself to your peers, especially when it comes to title and salary, but wasting time competing with others unnecessarily can detract from putting effort into what really matters: your work. Your only competition should be with yourself—are you better now than your were last week or earlier in your career? Focus on what you can control, and that all comes down to what you do at your own desk, not what your colleagues are up to.
Giving Up Too Easily
Business isn’t easy, and the best employees push through challenges to find success. It often takes getting your hands dirty to move your career to the next level, so don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. Giving up too easily can signal to management that you’re not truly invested in the cause of the company and that you can’t think through the challenges that almost inevitably arise. It can also be problematic when working with a team if you jump ship before you get to the finish line. Stick things out and keep fighting through struggles—you’ll come out stronger and never know what success you’ll find.
Apologizing Too Much
Young employees often fall into the trap of not wanting to disturb or disrupt anyone else, and so they come across as timid and apologetic. It’s the difference between an email quickly asking for team members’ thoughts versus asking if someone could possibly review a document if they happen to have a minute. Own your success—don’t ask for permission. Employees who are too timid don’t get things done and can often be more of a drag on their supervisors because they don’t have the confidence to take charge. Remember why you were hired and get results. Remove the word “just” from your language and realize that your tasks and projects are as important as anything else being done in the company. People expect to be asked for feedback and to contribute to projects—don’t apologize for doing your job.
Being Overly Critical
Just like no one wants to be surrounded by a “yes man”, no one wants to work closely with someone who is always complaining and bringing people down. Negativity repels other people and can alienate you from other employees and managers. You don’t have to agree with what everyone in your team is doing, but learn to voice your opinion in a constructive way that provides alternative solutions and builds people up. Moving away from negativity can have a direct impact on your work. In fact, people who focus on positivity at work receive 25% higher performance ratings. Check your attitude and make sure that even in your worst moments you are adding a dose of positivity and supporting and lifting others.
Staying Off the Grid
Everyone has heard the horror stories of a social media post that cost someone their job or someone who spent so much time on social media that it hurt their career. However, staying completely away from social media and not having an online profile at all can also be detrimental. Employers and managers want to know a full picture of who you are, including what happens outside of work, so they often look at social media sites, especially when considering whether to hire someone. That doesn’t mean you should post your most risqué and controversial pictures or opinions online, but sharing bits of your personal life and using your online presence to build your industry expertise can take you far in your career.
Planning Your Next Step Too Early
Even if you have the best idea in the world, you still need to listen to others and know how to work in a team. A common thread, especially among younger employees, is to just bid their time in a company until they can start their own business. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs don’t go all in until they have achieved a fairly high level of success. Researchers have found that entrepreneurs who keep their day jobs have a 33% better chance of success than those who quit their full-time positions too soon. Dream big, but still be realistic. There is plenty you can do to learn and grow your ideas while still holding a dependable job: join a networking group, go to night school or take online classes in fields like medical transcription, or pharm tech.
Using Too Much Jargon
Every industry is full of buzzwords, but that doesn’t mean they have to make up your entire vocabulary. Many companies and employees fall into the trap of using jargon and big words that sound impressive but that don’t actually mean anything. Many employees feel the need to prove how smart or knowledgable they are about the business by throwing in lots of jargon, but trust yourself and use your knowledge to share your message clearly and concisely. Simplify your language in conversations, in meetings, and in emails by using words everyone can understand that clearly get your point across.
Not Taking Care of Yourself Physically
When it comes to a successful career, it often starts in bed. Employees who get enough sleep and take care of themselves physically put themselves in a better mindset to focus at work and find success. Studies have found that getting less than six hours of sleep essentially makes you act like you’re drunk. People who consistently get between four and six hours of sleep tend to deny that their lackluster performance. Prioritize taking care of yourself to get a full night’s sleep to come to work refreshed and focused every day. Taking time to eat healthy meals and exercise can also prepare employees physically to put their best foot forward.
Not Being Proactive
It can be easy to fall into a rut with your job and with your career. You go to work and perform many of the same tasks every day, go to the same meetings, and talk to the same people. Don’t get complacent and let your attitude or work performance slide. Always be proactively looking for ways to expand your skills and improve your work. It could be getting a new client, initiating a new project, or reaching out to a new co-worker. Likewise, many people aren’t proactive enough in their careers. Take time to regularly evaluate where you are and where you want to be to make sure you are reaching your career goals. If you aren’t happy with something, change it—learn new skills, look for a new position, or get an industry certification like ACLS that can open more career doors for you.