What You Can Learn From These Common Career Mistakes

  • 30 Sep - 06 Oct, 2017
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Focus

Everyone makes mistakes, particularly early on in their career. But there are mistakes like forgetting someone’s name or accidentally making an off-colour joke to the boss. The latter ones can wreck your reputation and do lasting damage on your career. But some poor career choices can have a silver lining. Mistakes are good if you can learn from them. But when a mistake becomes a habit, it becomes a problem.

Here are some frequently made career blunders, paired with lessons to keep you from repeating them in the future.

Missing an important deadline

Even top performers drop the ball sometimes. When you’re buried in work, assignments can fall through the cracks – like that quarterly sales report that was due to your boss a week ago. You know, the one that’s still a blank Word document?

Lesson: Tune up your organisational skills
Find out where things fell apart and determine whether it was something inside or outside your control. Workers often miss deadlines due to poor organisational skills. To improve, she recommends setting milestones for long-term projects. Break down your work into more bite-size pieces. By setting checkpoints for yourself, you’ll be able to stay on track and turn in assignments on time.

Not negotiating your salary

One-fifth of workers surveyed by Salary.com said they never negotiate their salaries. But you risk leaving a ton of money on the table if you don’t negotiate – especially when you factor in compound interest.

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to ask for more money
Many job seekers don’t negotiate salary because they’re fearful of rejection or don’t want to appear too aggressive. The solution here is to learn how to overcome your fear. You need to become comfortable selling yourself. That way you can successfully negotiate your salary at your next job or persuade your current boss to give you a big raise at your next performance review.

You might feel more at ease if you arm yourself with data that supports your request for higher pay and get an idea of what you should be earning. Then to calm your nerves, practice negotiating with a co-worker.

Giving up networking once you have a job

A lot of people hate networking; some people despise it to the point where it makes them feel physically dirty and they want to take a shower. That may explain why a number of people stop networking after they find a full-time job. After all, you’re already gainfully employed – would you even need to network?

Lesson: Networking is a key factor to advancing your career.
Part of managing your reputation is staying connected with people in your sphere and continuing to make new connections in your field. Also, if you don’t network on a regular basis, you could be missing out on job opportunities, since your contacts may not think of you if they hear of job openings at their company.

Social media makes it easy for you to network online, but you can’t rely solely on the internet to grow your circle. Having 500 connections online doesn’t necessarily mean you have valuable connections. You need to attend industry conferences on a regular basis. Joining trade associations and labour unions will enable you to gain access to their networking events. To keep contacts fresh, touch base with people on a monthly or bimonthly basis.

Burning bridges

Whether you quit in a less-than-professional manner or hung your co-worker out to dry, burning a bridge can do lasting damage to your career. Reputation is everything in the workplace. Indeed, you never know if you’re going to cross paths with someone again in the future.

Lesson: Apologise and recognise what you did wrong. You may be able to mend the relationship by making a formal apology, but if that’s not possible, you need to at least assess the root of the issue.

Take time to reflect on what caused the rift so that you don’t repeat the behaviour. Oftentimes, it’s a matter of gaining more control over your emotions. You need to learn how to manage your feelings so that you don’t say or do something in the heat of the moment that you’ll regret.