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13 Career Mistakes (Plus Tips for How To Be Successful)

Here are some mistakes professionals make in their careers and what you can learn if you make a similar mistake:

1. Forgetting to negotiate your salary

A mistake professionals often make when getting a new job is forgetting to negotiate their salary and benefits before accepting the job offer. Consider determining a salary range that adequately compensates you for your duties, skills and experience. When an employer offers you a position, it's helpful to inform them immediately about your expectations to avoid miscommunication. You can research your industry to provide statistics that support your salary request. By negotiating your salary, you may earn more money than your employer originally offered.

In addition to salary, you may also be able to negotiate benefits. You can support your request with data about the benefits to employers of extending paid time off, for instance. You may also leverage your skills and experience to persuade an employer to negotiate to keep you as an employee. If you didn't negotiate your salary and benefits upon hire, consider asking to meet with your employer to discuss a raise or additional benefits.

2. Abandoning your network

Since a benefit of having a network is finding employment opportunities, professionals may stop networking after finding the career they want. Continuing to network can provide opportunities for career advancement and enrich your professional life. Your network may provide industry updates, help improve your skills, give recommendations or inform you of career opportunities.

You can continue to network by joining a professionals' guild or association and attending events. Social media is also a useful tool to stay in contact with your network. You can create a group and share updates about your careers and new industry information.

3. Missing deadlines

It's important to meet deadlines so that you can fulfill your responsibilities and contribute to workplace goals. However, you may miss a deadline in your career, and while there may be consequences, you can learn from your mistake and improve so it doesn't happen again. If you miss a deadline, identify the factors that caused this event so you can make corrections in the future.

One way to ensure you meet deadlines is to use a task manager that provides reminders and helps prioritize your assignments. You may also improve your ability to meet deadlines by developing time management skills. These abilities can help set priorities, increase productivity and reduce stress. Organizing your workspace and creating a schedule is also useful in meeting deadlines.

4. Ceasing development of your skills

Improving your skill set is a goal you can set to last the duration of your career. Focusing on improving your abilities can help earn recognition, rewards and opportunities to advance in your career. If an employer doesn't offer training or encourage professional development, some professionals make the mistake of not updating their skill set. It's important to pursue opportunities to learn more and hone your craft so your abilities stay current with changes in the job market.

Opportunities to develop your skills include attending workshops or seminars, taking additional responsibilities at work or completing college courses. You can also earn certifications or seek a mentor to help you with professional development.

5. Switching jobs without following protocol

Professionals switch jobs for a variety of reasons. If you switch jobs, it's important to follow protocol for quitting. Many employers request employees provide two weeks' notice before their final day. Leaving your job respectfully can maintain your professional relationships and reputation.

Requesting a later start date when you apply for jobs can provide you the time to inform your current employer of your departure and prepare for your new role. Offering to aid in your transition out of the company shows respect to your employer and can help maintain a good relationship with them. For example, you can offer to train a replacement for your position. By maintaining your professional relationships, you're able to use these colleagues as a reference and keep them in your network.

6. Avoiding setting career goals

Career goals are aspirations you have for your professional life. For example, your career goal may be to advance to managing a store. Without a career goal, you may limit the accomplishments you're able to achieve. To set a career goal, consider the result you are trying to achieve and research the steps that may help you accomplish it.

Creating short-term goals can boost your self-esteem you when you achieve them and encourage you to work towards long-term goals. Having a clear plan for how to achieve your goal can provide focus and give you measurable benchmarks on the way to the final result. Try to set timeframes and measurable results for your goals so that you can track your progress. For instance, if your goal is to manage a retail store in five years, you might aim to become a shift lead in two years.

7. Neglecting relationships at work

Having meaningful relationships at work can provide a support group, enable a positive mood and facilitate a more enjoyable work environment. Having friendships with your work colleagues can also aid in collaboration because you enjoy working together and develop good communication skills among yourselves.

To build relationships at work, it's helpful to take part in office events, such as lunches or volunteer days. Helping a team member with a task can also be a valuable way to build a connection. Consistently developing your interpersonal skills can show others you're invested in maintaining relationships and make you a more valued member of the team.

8. Prioritizing money

Earning a sustainable income is an important aspect of choosing a career, but also consider your interests, work-life balance and the benefits a job offers. You may find more job satisfaction and happiness if you prioritize passion and flexibility when job searching. For example, a job with flexible work hours may provide greater satisfaction because you can better organize the priorities in your life and work when you're most motivated.

9. Wasting time

Learning to manage your time effectively is a very useful skill for your professional life. There are many time management techniques you can learn and try in your routine, such as using an online calendar for events and meetings, making to-do lists, prioritizing tasks, learning when you're most productive and giving yourself breaks. Setting boundaries can help maintain a manageable workload and prevent you from taking on too much.

You can also request help from your manager to develop techniques to improve efficiency and productivity in your role. Organizing your space can also help you develop better time management skills because you may be able to focus better with fewer distractions.

10. Choosing careers in different industries

If you are seeking a career change, search within the industry in which you already work. Choosing a job in another industry may be a mistake because it can be expensive to earn the proper certification or gain experience. To switch from one job to another in a separate industry may also require you to go back to school to earn a degree. If you choose an industry to work in, it may be an easier transition from one career to the next because you can apply your prior experience and training.

You may have the most success in choosing two industries you have an interest in and gaining qualifications that apply to either industry. For example, you may earn credentials in business management and hospitality, which can enable you to work as a restaurant hostess, then a hotel manager.

11. Becoming passive

After working in a company for a while, it's common to become passive in your career. To avoid making this mistake, focus on your career goals and try to be proactive in advancement. For example, you may consider requesting a raise when you feel you've earned it rather than waiting for your employer to offer more money. Similarly, you can inform your employer that you're interested in promotion and learn what you can do to improve your candidacy.

You may also make minor requests such as flexibility in your schedule or for time off. Requesting recognition and new opportunities may increase job satisfaction and help accomplish your career goals sooner.

12. Taking a job that you're not passionate about

When determining your career path, consider your hobbies and passions. Not finding a career you love is a mistake professionals can make. If you enjoy the work that you do, you may enjoy benefits such as higher job satisfaction and productivity. Pursuing a career you love may also increase your overall happiness in life.

To find a career path you're passionate about, you can take a career aptitude test to find jobs that match your interests and abilities. It may be helpful to shadow professionals working in industries you're interested in to familiarize yourself with their duties and work environment. Another option for finding a career that aligns with your passions is to hire a career coach to help you choose.

13. Avoiding speaking with others

Communication is an essential skill for professionals, regardless of the industry in which they work. A common career mistake people make is refusing to listen to others or ask for help. Communicating with colleagues is mutually beneficial and contributes to a more positive work environment.

You can improve communication by listening to colleagues and accepting feedback. It's also useful to request help from others when you are unsure or have questions. By communicating your needs and listening when people have advice or are informing you of their needs, you can strengthen relationships and accomplish more professionally.


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