In life, we sometimes get second chances, but when it comes to work, some mistakes can be difficult to undo. That’s according to consultant and career expert Robin Madell, who recently wrote an informative U.S. News & World Report piece titled “6 Career Missteps You’ll Live to Regret.”
The No. 1 thing Madell warns workers to avoid is “burning bridges.” While there might come a time when things turn sour and you need to leave a job, you should always leave on good terms. Don’t make a big stink or steal clients on your way out. Later on, a potential employer might learn of your behavior and decide to not interview you. Even if you land an interview, the hiring manager might contact references, and that could cost you an opportunity.
The next mistake is “not recognizing when your boss is pulling you down.” Having the right boss can make all the difference in the world, and if you work for someone who passes you up for projects and actively ignores you while engaging your colleagues, you’ve got a major problem on your hands.
“Bottom line: Your boss will not give you the time of day if he or she is pulling you down, because you are not seen as worth their time or energy,” says Lisa Baker-King, a job coach and expert on small businesses.
If you get a bad boss, though, avoid “mismanaging your manager.” That’s Madell’s third tip, and it means avoiding telling your supervisor how to do their job, even if they’re mishandling things. Even good-natured comments and suggestions can be perceived as challenges to authority, and you just might find yourself in hot water.
What’s worse than finding yourself in a job with a lousy boss? Finding yourself in a job you can’t stand. That’s why Madell’s next mistake, “taking or leaving a job for the wrong reason,” is so important to avoid. Unfortunately, a lot of people just starting out take whatever jobs they can get, and that sets them down paths that lead to unhappiness. While you can always change course if you’re truly miserable, it’s tough to quit a job when you don’t have another one lined up.
“There has to be a really good business reason for leaving a job,” says Babich & Associates president Tony Beshara.
On a related note, Madell’s next no-no is “showing impatience in your job search.” Don’t jump at an opportunity simply because the job offers stability or allows you to continue leading the lifestyle you’re used to. As Madell puts it, “finding the right job should be treated the same way as someone taking time to find the right life partner.”
Lastly, Madell warns against “not applying to a position, or staying too long in one.” As Madell reports, women have a tendency to only apply for jobs when they meet all the requirements, while men only look to meet 60 percent. Since job descriptions generally “outline parameters for what a role could entail,” as Madell writes, you shouldn’t refrain from applying when it doesn’t read like a perfect fit. On the flip side, you shouldn’t stay in a job when it’s obvious things have run their course. Though you might tell yourself things will get better, and that there’s more money and a better title around the corner, this isn’t always the case.