Do you want to sabotage your career? Of course not. But many people do mistakes that undermine their professional opportunities. Many of these mistakes might appear minor when they happen, but their long-term impact may be detrimental.
These types of mistakes are not necessarily the career-suicide scandals, they can be just wrong choices — a number of wrong turns and twists. If you’re trying to avoid them, your only way is to remain responsible and think carefully about your career and job moves at every juncture.
Here are the top five mistakes that can kill your career.
When things go wrong at the office, fantasies of “I quit” are not uncommon. Don’t act on it. Your exit won’t solve problem. And if you make it a dramatic exit with the intention of getting attention and making a statement, you simply will be shooting yourself in the foot.
Why? Your dramatic exit will alienate friends and enemies alike. Coworkers, even those who maintained a good connection with you, might not want to be associated with your erratic behaviour. Those who aren’t on your good side can use it as evidence of your irresponsibility and lack of professionalism. Neutral departments and people like HR will not be to sympathise with someone who is not following proper procedures for resigning.
With this in mind, plan your exit to be graceful, and don’t burn bridges. Even if you think you will never need anything from this employer, don’t ruin your future chances by closing lines of communication too soon.
Regardless to how you ended up unemployed, an extended period without a job can hurt your for a lon time. Unemployment gaps are all about timing. While all can hurt you, an unemployment gap that comes, for example, too early in your career can be the end of the career you wanted to pursue. If you’re foreseen to lack basic skills that are gained in the early years of this career, employers might prefer other candidates who are in the right phase, with matching experience.
Unemployment gaps are also critical when they don’t seem justified. For example, if your unemployment gap is to provide care for an ageing parent or a child, there could be more understanding than when your unemployment gap appears to be for lack of direction or willingness to pursue work.
Employers like to see a career that is well-developed. If your jobs seem to zigzag or lack the natural professional advancement, you might be hurting yourself. You will seem as unable to decide which career path to pursue.
This mistake can happen when you’re tempted to switch jobs often. People who jump at the first job opportunities or be lured by a higher salary and a new title often end up with a bunch of jobs that are hardly related and lack depth.
Early in your career, in particular, you should focus on your professional development, and think of the next steps in view of the skills that you should gain. Although it could be tempting to take what appears to be a better job, many changes will look bad on your resume. In addition, employers are quick to spot a hopper.
Priorities change, but some choices you make early on in your career can haunt you for the rest of your work life. For example, if you decide to wing it early on and get an entry job that doesn’t require a particular certification, you might think then that you made it. But later on, this lack of certification can impede your advancement.
Similarly, if your focus is hardly on your for many years, you might find it hard to recover and go back to where you want to be given your experience and length of employment. It is a competitive market out there, and people who excel consistently are the ones picked for advancement opportunities.
That is why having a consistently good record of employment is the only to stay on track. Avoid shortcuts and slacking, and you will save your career.
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.
Don’t kill your career
Avoid a dramatic exit from any jobs
Get back to work as soon as possible
Maintain a clear path of advancement