Top Five Career Mistakes

by Thakkar, Nimish Friday, September 17, 2010
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Held, guilty of career stagnation -- of course, no one is ever going to pass that sentence on you, but by ineffectively managing your career, you could easily find yourself making the same career mistakes most individuals make.

1. Randomly pursuing jobs

Apparently, even the greatest of strategists do not have a clear plan when it comes to their own careers. Most, just accept jobs or opportunities that come their way, without ever thinking about where they will lead them. “Let’s just see where this job takes me,” is what most professionals tell me when they accept a new position.

It is very important to define both long term and short term career goals. If my long term goal is to be the director of a group, what short term goals should I pursue to get there?

2. Ineffective networking

An ineffective -- or worse still, non-existent -- networking strategy is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why even extremely talented individuals don’t succeed as well as they should. Active networking should be an integral component of any career success campaign.

Conferences, professional development events, trade shows, workshops, networking events (direct and indirect) -- all of these are valuable avenues for multiplying your network, and thus your growth prospects. Every individual you meet is a potential contact and how you build and use the relationship is entirely up to you.

3. Giving up work-life balance

No, I haven’t spoken to your spouse, but I am dead serious when I say that lack of work-life balance could seriously impact your career progress. Our bodies are not designed to work 25 hours a day. Our careers form an important part of our lives, but there are other areas that need our attention as well.

We need to rest and recharge to deliver optimal performance. Working unreasonably long hours can wear us out and deprive us of the ability to provide fresh and creative ideas -- and ideas are the fuel on which the career engine runs.

4. Allowing the opportunities pipeline to run dry

Ever spoken to a top-producing sales professional? They will never let the sales pipeline dry even if they have achieved their goals for the period. Generating new leads is the most critical element of their function. We, too, could learn some lessons here.

As individuals, we are not just employees; we are CEOs of our own careers. As such, we must make constant attempts to grow in our careers. This is applicable not only to job leads but also to internal opportunities, such as new projects and training initiatives. Don’t ever allow the disease of stagnation to seep into your careers. You shouldn’t go job-hopping by any means, but rather generate as many opportunities as possible to enrich your experience and profile. Take charge!

5. Not keeping up

I have always stressed on the fact that we are knowledge workers in this Information Age. Knowledge is constantly changing and by failing to stay abreast with what is happening in our professions, we are certainly losing out on valuable opportunities.

Create a professional development plan that will help you stay cutting-edge. Even if your employer doesn’t sponsor continuing education, set aside a budget. If you undertake the right training, this investment will pay for itself many times over.