The top 5 career mistakes you should avoid

Rookie errors: the top 5 career mistakes you should avoid
Julia Watters

Everyone makes mistakes. But are your mistakes hurting your career and can they be easily avoided?

There’s a lot of debate in cyberspace about what constitutes a ‘career breaker’. With all this myth-busting going on, how do you know what’s brilliant and what’s just bogus? Unfortunately, it’s not always black and white, but some of it is just plain common sense.

Here are the top 5 basic career mistakes people make.

1. You’re not even trying

Clinical psychologist Dr Meg Jay believes that 20-somethings make the key mistake of believing they are just biding their time until their 30s, when things will start to happen.

Jay specialises in working with clients in this pivotal decade and too frequently sees people using their 20s simply as practice and not the main event. As a result, she begs these clients to ‘consider what part you’re rehearsing to play’. Mark Zuckerburg was programming software in school, co-founded Facebook in college and was a billionaire by the age of 23. Enough said.

2. You don’t have a plan

Many people meander aimlessly, without a plan or goal – but creating a five-year plan can help put your career goals into perspective. You may be stuck in a job you don’t think is getting you anywhere, but mapping out your future might give you a sense of the bigger picture. If your current job doesn’t seem to fit into that picture, then you’ll know you need to move on to something that helps further your goals.

3. You have too many plans

While it’s good to be ambitious, that drive needs some direction. If you are trying to achieve too many goals at once, you risk sacrificing them all. Decide on a specific career path and move towards it. If it’s not right for you, there’s no harm in changing route. But if you try heading in too many directions at the one time, you may not end up anywhere at all. Would you go to the airport and try and get on all the planes at once? I don’t think so.

3. You’re your own paparazzi

Social media is a great sharing tool but beware of the consequences it can have on your current and future jobs. Juan Enriquez, described as a futurist, labels this digital footprint the ‘permanent effect of digital sharing’ and compares its longevity to that of a tattoo on the body.   

You may think that any publicity is good publicity, but prospective employers may not look favourably on your derogatory tweets dissing your boss or the 3am selfies you keep posting from the pub. Think of yourself as a brand and make sure you promote it well.

4. You’re lazy

You can’t afford to be lazy either on the job, or when you’re looking for a job. Sure, jobs can get boring and samey, and the career hunt can get tedious – but trying to take shortcuts and slacking off is a surefire path to nowhere. Wherever you go and whatever you’re doing, if you don’t stay sharp and put in some effort, you can’t expect to get very far.

5. You think failure is final

There’s a difference between receiving criticism and full-on failing at something. Regardless, you need to learn from every experience, take feedback on board and keep moving forward. Don’t just give up and wallow in the ashes – be the phoenix.

One of the most famous examples of career rebirth comes from Donald Trump  who began by making his fortune in property development. Despite early success, Trump fell victim to some poor decisions and the recession in the late 80s, forcing his business into bankruptcy. Being a true entrepreneur, he clawed his way back to hotelier success by the 90s, starred in a hit reality TV show and has even considered running for presidency. Well played Donald, well played.

Sometimes the biggest mistake is being afraid to make one. Don’t just let the current pull you down the river of recruitment – grab an oar and start paddling!

Career FAQs are the leading publisher of Australian career guides, offering quality career and educational resources. Career FAQs also offers an extensive range of online courses, from teaching to nursing courses.

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