Seven Massive Career Blunders You May Be Making Right Now

Seven Massive Career Blunders You May Be Making Right Now

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So, unemployment is down, the stock market is up and everything looks rosy, right?  For many of us, this is true.  But it is still wise to manage your career yourself, being savvy as to where you really are in your company and your career.  Steering clear of these seven super-common and completely avoidable career blunders are the best form of free and easy “career insurance”.

Career Blunder #1: Not knowing your results

You have a job to solve a problem, so it is imperative that you KNOW what that problem IS.  Businesses are in existence to make money, and making money is how they stay alive.  Every position in the company is there to either make the company money, save the company money or save time.

What you need to know: You need to be in a similar mindset to your manager.  Think along the lines of how you can justify your position in dollar and cents.  Know clearly how you impact the bottom line and make sure your boss knows that, too.  If you keep your resume updated (as you always should), explain your accomplishments in dollars, numbers, percentages and rankings.  If you don’t know why you have a job, you better believe your boss doesn’t either.

Career Blunder 2#: Believing you will always have a job

You love your job, your company, your coworkers and your boss.  The commute is short and the pay is good.  Your job fits you and you like it.  And they like you.  This sounds great, but what else is going on?  What is going on within the company, outside of the company and how do you stack up against other people in your company and industry who do your same job?

What you need to know: You need to know if you are a strong performer, average or weak.  Know your stats and how you stack up.  Liking your job will not matter if the company needs to make cuts or restructure because these decisions will be made on performance.  If you are not providing value to your company, you won’t keep your cushy job.  The more you love your job, the more you need to deliver to make sure you keep it.  Don’t get lazy.

Career Blunder #3: Believing your past performance is enough to carry you through

You beat the record, hit your quota, or aced that big project.  You put in some crazy overtime, maybe even a bit of your soul to make it happen and your boss is so proud.  In your boss’ mind, you WERE their “go to” person, but now it’s been a few months.  Maybe you’ve been “resting” after your big accomplishment.  Maybe you’re waiting for someone to beat your record before you try again.  What should it matter as long as you’re on top right now?

What you need to know: If you as a staff member came out swinging, really shined and then stepped back, your manager is likely to think you are settling.  Or scared of a new challenge.  Or maybe that since you “no longer have anything to prove”, you are not hungry for accomplishment.  The big challenges and big projects go to those who are hungry for them and want to shine, those who don’t settle.  If it’s been months since you put on your game face, you’re probably being considered just an average performer.

Career Blunder #4: Refusing to consider new career options

Things are pretty good.  You’d say they were ok.  Yet recruiters keep calling you or your friends keep telling you about that new position where they work.  You could try something new, but why rock the boat?  You don’t want to just jump into the frying pan and land in the fire, right?

What you need to know: Your boat will be rocked.  Something will happen, change is inevitable.  So if you are spending the bulk of your waking hours doing something you just don’t hate at a place that’s only okay, that is a waste of your time.  If you believe, truly believe that you deserve to be happy, why settle 40 hours a week of your life?  At least listen to opportunities and learn what else is out there.  The career of your dreams might be in your next recruiter call.

Career Blunder #5: Bad mouthing your previous employers

You left and good riddance.  Your old company didn’t appreciate you, didn’t give you the raise or didn’t promote you like you expected.  They overpromised and under-delivered.  So now that you’re out of there, you have no problem telling it “like it is” to anyone who will listen.  Maybe you told your old boss EVERYTHING you thought they needed to know before you stormed out in a blaze of glory.  Except maybe your point of view isn’t the whole story.

What you need to know: You never know when you may need to get a reference or recommendation from a past employer or when they might end up on your sales call list.  Your next dream job might report to your old boss’ best friend from high school’s husband.  People talk.  And when you create a scene or badmouth a previous employer, that’s pretty memorable.  And if you used the company email to chat with your coworkers about how much this place sucks, you can now assume that’s been found.   Best to take the high road and be classy, even in a terrible situation.  There always a good reason to do the right thing.

Career Blunder #6: Walking out without another job lined up

You’ve had it.  They can take this job and … well, you know.

What you need to know: Why did you wait so long?!?!?  If you had considered new options (#4), you could have had something lined out now and could have your new awesome job.  And just like when you are not single, then it seems like everyone wants to date you, it’s the same in the job market.  You are much more attractive when you are delivering value to a rival company than if you are unemployed on the couch in your pajamas, surfing the job openings in the internet.  So much of the career market is not even posted publically, so if you are unhappy, get yourself to some networking coffees!  Update that LinkedIn profile and call a good recruiter.  Be proactive instead of getting to the boiling point and exploding, leaving a nasty taste in everyone’s mouth.

Career Blunder #7: Taking a counteroffer

You networked.  You updated that resume, interviewed like a champ and now that company wants you.  Offer in hand, you’re thinking if they like you this much maybe your boss will see how valuable you are.  Nothing like a competing offer to make them see!

What you need to know: Nooooooo!  You interviewing at another company breaks the trust your firm had in your loyalty.  You’ve shown that instead of address the issues you have head-on with your boss, you’ve already got one foot out the door.  And while that hot new offer may make you feel good, if it’s a lot more money than you are getting right now it is because you are currently getting paid what your company thinks you are worth.  Which is less than your new offer.   They might match your offer, for two possible reasons.  They will replace you on their time, not yours, and are just paying you to stay until a replacement is found.  Or you will not be getting a raise anytime in the foreseeable future because you just got your raise for the next few years.  Layoffs coming?  Better believe your competing offer will be remembered.  And heaven help you if you signed your competing offer then accepted a counteroffer.  Now both companies know your word is worthless.  There were reasons other than money that you were looking and your counteroffer is unlikely to change them.

So, to boil it down, here’s the TO DO steps to an awesome career:

  • Do something you like.
  • Know the value you bring.
  • If you’re unhappy, start talking. To your boss, recruiters, your network, etc.
  • Be proactive, not reactive.

If you avoid the career blunders and follow our career TO DO’s, you should have an amazing, proactive and completely blissful life.  Or something close to it.  Or at least better than if you stay in a crappy job.  The proactive mindset is your single best career asset!