Don't Make Your Career Disappear - Avoid These Errors

by - 5/26/2017 10:00:00 PM

One of the best ways to boost your self-esteem is by progressing in your career. But a lot of people are actually damaging their career prospects without realizing it. If you want to advance in the world of business - and thus, in many ways, advance your personal life - then you need to ensure you’re avoiding these mistakes that can harm your chances of climbing the career ladder.

Neglecting your personal life

When you think of people who are very driven by their career, you’ll no doubt think of people who have made their career their life. You probably don’t imagine someone with a family - or, if you do, that family probably don’t get to see that much of the person in question. Nor do you imagine someone with hobbies. No - the person people picture is someone who is at work day-in, day-out. Even when they’re at home, they’re thinking about work, checking their emails, writing up documents, brainstorming projects.

This is the sort of dedication that can get you far - but it can also shorten your lifespan and throttle how much your enjoy life. It results in tremendous amounts of stress, as well as severe tunnel vision. A good work-life balance is important - in fact, by reducing stress, it can actually help your career.

Not maintaining your skills

Your skills need to be sharpened from time to time - especially if they’re not being utilized in your current line of work. All of the skills you built up during school and college, during training programs, or using courses in your own time, should be kept as up-to-date and sharp as possible.

As new technologies and software emerge, your skills will need to be applied to those things if they apply to your industry in some way. If you allow your skills to go rusty, then you may find you have a hard climbing the career ladder. So make sure you’re keeping yourself in practice, or that you keep reading the relevant literature.

Failing to negotiate

So many people don’t get all that far in their career simply because they don’t let their aspirations become known. You have to become more aware of your own value to a given company (and if you’re not confident about this, then you need to work towards making yourself indispensable to your employer!). When you have this knowledge and you’ve been working at a given place for a long time, then it’s time to negotiate with your boss.

People tend to assume that this only means a higher salary. While this is certainly important, perhaps you can negotiate this indirectly by inquiring about a promotion. But even a higher salary and promotion aren’t the only the only things for which you can negotiate. You can negotiate for more time off, or more responsibilities. (The latter will definitely help your skills shine and prove that you’re ready to move up the ladder!)

No boundaries

While we have extended responsibilities in mind, it’s important to understand that you should keep certain boundaries in mind. Extra responsibilities can be excellent - they show that your employer can trust you, and present great opportunities to show your talent. But if your employer is putting too much on your plate, then you need to consider the possibility that you’re being taken advantage of. Some bosses out there seem to think that they can pile extra work on people without them ever expecting anything in return. They assume that employees will do these things for the good of the company, and have no intention of raising pay or handing out promotions at any point. This is a scenario you must avoid!

Boundaries are also important in other areas. Namely, the blurring of the personal and the professional. If there’s something going wrong in your personal life, then you need to deal with it outside of work. If you need to, take time off to deal with it. This may help speed up the process and stops you bringing your baggage into the workplace. Don’t assume that you’ll be seen as weak by admitting to your employer that you have a personal problem that you need some time off to deal with. They’ll appreciate the honesty, especially if you highlight that you don’t want the issue to interfere with your work performance.

Burning bridges

“It’s a small world, after all.” You’ve probably heard this line before - in movies, in books, on that incredibly annoying Disney World ride... As clichéd as it may seem, you must remember that there’s some truth to it. The world is big, but people are incredibly interconnected. And this goes double, even triple, for the business world. Someone you work with now may know someone you’ve worked with in a previous job. That person may know someone who works in a bigger company a few cities away. It’s difficult to get away from the interconnectedness - and that’s why you need to be careful about burning bridges in the business world.

Networking, relationships, word-of-mouth - all of these things are important in business. It’s how careers are made and broken. While you may feel slighted in some way by something that’s occurred with a boss or colleague, it’s essential that you don’t burn bridges - because your actions will affect your reputation, and it’s easier than you may think for word of your reputation to make it around when you’re trying to climb up the ladder. Some employers are very thorough when they’re recruiting for a high-level position; they’ll find a connection between them and someone you’ve worked with and begin inquiries.

Assuming you won’t get fired

When people are at a particular job for a long time, they tend to take it for granted. They assume that they’re going to be at that job for as long as they desire. This is dangerous thinking for many reasons - we’ll discuss this complacency again in the next section. For now, we’re going to look at it in the context of your behavior at work. You’ve probably been at a company where you’ve seen someone flagrantly flout the rules of the place and get away with it, presumably because they’re well-liked and have been at the company for a long time. But don’t assume that this applies in all rule-breaking situations.

The fact is that employers have a reputation to keep. While most of them are reluctant to fire a hard worker who has been with them for along time, they also know that other employees will resent what they perceive to be special treatment. This can affect satisfaction and morale, which will affect the bottom line of the company in many ways. Another thing you need to keep in mind is precisely what someone can be fired for. Employee law may not protect you as much as you believe. As Ellis Whittam notes, there are several scenarios in which your boss is perfectly entitled to fire you on the spot. Don’t get cocky!


Returning to the subject of complacency, and also that of knowing your worth, it’s time to tackle the problem of coasting - perhaps the most common roadblock to career progression there is. When you’ve worked somewhere for a long time and get a healthy paycheck, you won’t see much incentive to change anything - especially if you don’t hate your job! So instead of putting effort into working up the ladder, you just… well, get on with things. You make no particular effort to excel in your department, nor do you investigate new opportunities. You coast.

Some people say that getting too comfortable in any arena can be a dangerous thing, and that’s certainly true here. For one, you’re taking your job for granted. Not only that, but the chances are that you’ll eventually get bored with your job if there’s no particular challenge to it. If you’re just coasting, then you’re not going to have a great leg to stand on if you decide you want a pay rise.

Thinking it’s too late

So maybe you’ve been coasting for a while. A long while, in fact. You may even begin to consider yourself “old” - and not in that same way that thirty-year-olds do when they realize that the first episode of Pokémon aired twenty years ago. You’re actually feeling like there’s not a lot of room on the higher rungs of the career ladder for people your age. You start to lose confidence and give up on the idea of progressing to the dizzying heights you once dreamed of in your youth.

This seems to stem in this view that it’s mostly people in their early twenties who are the real movers and shakers in the world of business these days. There’s also a fear that the higher-ups prefer to give opportunities to younger people because they may end up hanging around for longer in that particular position. But the truth? People still care about experience and ambition more than anything else. So it’s not too late. Give it your all and you should see that age doesn’t matter all that much in the world of business.

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