Whether you’re just starting your career or you’re a seasoned professional, we know that mistakes happen. We know the blunders that can potentially damage our careers, like the project that didn’t go as planned or the group email that we sent to people unintentionally. We know we need to fix those problems. Sometimes though, it’s the career mistakes that we don’t know about and the things that we fail to do that end up having the most significant impact on our career. Here are seven of the deadliest career mistakes that you could be making and how to fix them.
The first set of mistakes occur when you learn the skills you need to do your job, but you fail to master the business of you.
1. You lack career goals
Many of us have a job, but we lack a bigger vision for our career. When we don’t have a bigger picture of where our career is headed, we often find that although we are good at meeting company goals, we feel personally directionless. When this happens, we must step back and take a broader view of our skills, talents and what is meaningful to us so that we can develop a clear career strategy.
2. You are stuck in a career rut
Without a connection to a bigger career vision, you might find that you are in a job that’s good, but not great. The pay might even be okay, but you just don’t feel engaged or have the energy that you once had. You might be bored, you dread Mondays, and your work might be suffering. The likelihood is that others have also noticed, but you’re hesitant to branch out because it’s easier to do nothing. The danger here is that you don’t want to tarnish your brand, so you must identify what’s behind your dissatisfaction and come up with a game plan to get out of the rut, whether it is staying at your current job or deciding to look elsewhere.
3. The grass is always greener
Another sign that you lack a clear career vision is if you continuously go from job to job, role to role, without any rhyme or reason. While the job market has shifted such that workers now change jobs on average every three to five years, you could be derailing your career if you keep starting over without any sense of how your moves fit into your long term goals. Growth isn’t just about finding new opportunities; it is about finding the right opportunities.
The next set of mistakes occur when you fail to see that your career is not a hero’s journey so you can’t do it alone.
4. You fail to build a supporting team
Having good skills is an important start, but if you’re going to advance your career, you shouldn’t make the mistake of trying to figure everything out on your own. We all need people we trust that have walked the path we intend to walk. A mentor can provide us with candid feedback and connect us with the resources and experiences we need to keep moving forward, as well as redirect us when we are going off track.
5. You limit your network
We all know the importance of networking, but despite the benefits, we often give up too soon on building and extending our networks. The mistake we make is that we think growing our professional relationships no longer matters once we have secured the new job we hoped for, so instead, we end up limiting ourselves to building relationships mainly with the people we see day to day within our company. Some of the most important professional connections you will need throughout your career will be with people outside of your company. They are invaluable, particularly when you are considering your next move, so you should continue to invest in these relationships.
The final set of mistakes occur when you don’t pay attention to the rules of managing your career.
6. You stop investing in yourself
You’ve been in your role for a few years now, and you’re feeling comfortable. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, but it is a problem when you start to assume that your past success will automatically carry over to future projects. You start to become complacent and allow your skills to be out of date. When you stop pushing yourself to keep learning and growing professionally, that is when you risk becoming irrelevant. You must stay on top of what is happening in your field by keeping up with industry trends and events, and making sure you keep your skills up to date so that you can adapt as changes occur.
7. You burn bridges
We live in a highly interconnected world, so your reputation means everything. If things go wrong in your current position and you find it’s time to move on, make sure that you’re managing your career by also managing your emotions. You might feel like you want to walk away prematurely or be tempted to say things you might later regret. Given that there is a good chance you will run into some of the same people again sooner or later in your career, make sure you leave in a way that does not do lasting damage.
Making some career mistakes along the way is inevitable, but we can take better control of our future by being mindful of the missteps that can harm our career and by knowing how to recover and quickly get back on course.