Everyone makes mistakes, and while most snafus won’t completely kill your career, some are pretty hard to recover from. The best bet, Donna Fuscaldo writes in a terrific Glassdoor post titled “5 Damaging Career Moves to Avoid,” is to watch out for pitfalls and try not to put yourself in situations where you’re scrambling to make apologies or play catchup. Drawing largely from career strategist and Bauke Group founder Julie Bauke’s book Stop Peeing on our Shoes: Avoiding the 7 Mistakes that Screw Up your Job Search, Fuscaldo shares some strategies for sidestepping those professional mine fields and being the best employee you can be.
1. Not Utilizing Tools — Many companies offer a host of training opportunities, and yet sadly, employees don’t always take advantage of them. This is often the result of individuals putting their focus in the wrong place. You shouldn’t simply try to excel in the job you have and start planning moves of the corporate ladder. Instead, be mindful of expanding your skill set — something that will pay dividends now and in the future.
2. Focusing Only on Your Job — It’s not enough to work hard from 9 to 5 from Monday to Friday and then log out and never think about your job again. Truly successful people keep up with industry trends and do everything they can to stay relevant — and valuable to the company. “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,” Bauke says.
3. Not Checking Emotions and Behaviors — Sometimes, our performance has nothing to do with our advancement at a company. Behavior plays a big role, and with that in mind, you should never have inappropriate workplace affairs, get roaring drunk at company outings, or let your anger or frustration lead you to slam doors and throw things around the office.
4. Missing Networking Opportunities — It all comes back to to that magic word: “networking.” It doesn’t stop once you land a job. Your company is teeming with folks who can help you make your next move, and you should never miss an opportunity to chat up someone in the elevator or at a company outing. Find out what people in other departments do, and always have your “elevator pitch” handy.
5. Making Bad Alliances — While most offices don’t function quite like “Survivor,” it is important to align yourself with the right people. If your boss is disgruntled and always spouting off about the company, you don’t necessarily want to join in his or her tirades. “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 Anthony Graziano, regional managing director of Randstad Professionals.