6 Career Mistakes Even Smart People Make

6 Career Mistakes Even Smart People MakeCareer management is essential to reaching your full potential at work. While you may currently be in a position where your job feels stable and your next steps are clear, anything can change – and quickly. Taking the right steps to guide your career forward and avoid common pitfalls can mean the difference between success and failure.

No matter how well you do your job, you’d be wise to avoid these six career missteps that can derail even top employees:

1. They stop networking. It’s easy to grow complacent about networking when you’ve worked with one employer for a while. But knowing who you need to know within the four walls of your company isn’t enough – as you may quickly discover when you lose your job or need to seek opportunities outside your firm for other reasons.

“Failure to network can be detrimental when the time comes for an employee to find a new job,” says Jennifer Brown, founder of PeopleTactics, a human resources firm that helps small businesses. “Employees need to ensure they continue to network throughout their careers so that they can stay in contact and connected with people who are able to help them, should they want or need to switch jobs.”

2. They assume good work will be recognized. If you’re a talented worker who goes the extra mile, you’ll be rewarded when your boss sees what you’ve done to help the company, right? Not necessarily.

Corrie Shanahan, owner of The Beara Group LLC, notes that doing your job really well and expecting that you will be automatically noticed and promoted because of it can be disastrous. “This is particularly common with women but affects men, too,” she says. “Many smart and talented people have watched less talented colleagues progress, because they are better at letting superiors know about their accomplishments.”

3. They don’t know their worth. Research shows that women are less likely than men to request a raise. Failing to ask for the level of pay you’re worth can keep you in a vicious cycle of salary depression that carries over from employer to employer.

While the discrepancy may not seem dramatic in any one position, economist Linda Babcock noted in an NPR article that not effectively negotiating salary at the start of your career can amount to as much as $1.5 million in lost lifetime earnings.

Author and speaker Elizabeth Lions suggests that female candidates in particular should know their market worth. “Ask for a 10- to 15-percent raise when you make a job change,” she adds.

4. They stay invisible. In the hours available each day, it’s often difficult just to get the job done that you’re paid to do, much less take on career-related extracurriculars.

However, according to Cheryl Palmer, founder of the career coaching firm Call to Career, you should get involved in committees to increase your visibility in the organization and make a contribution outside your department. “Many large companies have committees to review processes or improve employee retention,” she says. “Joining such a committee can expose you to other people in a large organization that you might not otherwise meet and can open the door for future job opportunities.”

5. They overshare. When you get along with your boss, it’s easy to slip into a comfort zone in your communications. But don’t let that sharing morph into indiscretion that could come back to haunt you.

“One mistake I have seen people make in their careers is sharing too much about their personal lives with their manager,” says career and business coach Jason Dukes. “It is easy to slip into the comfort zone of having buddy-buddy casual conversations with a manager, especially if there is not a huge age gap. However, if you share too much about your passions outside of work and say, for instance, something goes wrong on the job, your boss has immediate reasons for your lackluster performance.”

Dukes adds that the best way to avoid oversharing is to keep conversations with your manager focused on work. “When your manager digresses to personal stories, smile and be engaging, but don’t add too much to the conversation,” he says.

6. They’re too negative. No one’s arguing that there isn’t plenty to complain about in almost any office setting. But venting about this to those around you can signal a red flag to your boss or employer that you’re not right for the company.

Dave Conrad, associate professor at the Augsburg MBA program in Rochester, Minnesota, notes that even associating with negative people in your workplace can hurt your career.

“Employees must set boundaries and standards and not lower their standards to connect with negative people,” he says. “Even in the face of an argument, employees must not lose their head and sink down into the negativity that surrounds them. Being critical is one thing, but being overtly and harshly negative is a career destroyer. source

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Career Assessment and the Elusive Career Path

career pathNo one knows you as  well as you know yourself, so taking the time to actively reflect on your interests, values, abilities and personality is very important. What do you consider important in life? What do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies? What are you good at? It is also imperative to reflect on your likes and dislikes in a job  situation. By identifying what you do not want out of a career, you will in turn get more clarity about what you really do want. This can be very helpful in narrowing your  search for that elusive career path.

Answering some of these questions can really serve to spark your thinking about your options. If you love history, why not look at  careers for history buffs? If you hate the shift work in your current part-time job, then perhaps you can rule out careers that involve shift work. Knowing yourself is a critical first step in the career planning process. The more effort you put in at the start of this process, the happier you will be with the outcome.

So how do you discover  what you like and don’t like? What you are good at and not-so-good at? Where your personality and values fit? Much of this self-discovery comes  from real-world experience. All those summer or part-time jobs and volunteer positions can provide you with valuable insights into yourself. Teaching may have been on  your radar as a potential career, but after the summer you just spent working at a children’s camp, you may feel differently about being surrounded by 20 to 30 eager little faces every day. Considering a certain career is one thing, but actually being immersed in that field is quite another, offering the kind of insight that only comes from hands-on experience. Reflecting later on what parts you did and didn’t enjoy about these experiences can be powerful indicators of your future career.

career path goalsThere may not be a “magic” career test, but there are a number of useful career assessments available. Career tests are interesting, but they are just one of many options  available to you on your exploration. Your campus career centre or counselling centre will have a variety of tools and resources that you can use. Try taking more than one career assessment to see if the results are similar; if they are, this may indicate that you’re on the right path. Schedule an appointment with a career counsellor to  discuss your results and where you are in the career planning process, as oftentimes talking it out can help clarify your thoughts. The career counsellor will also be able  to suggest additional resources. It may also be beneficial to connect with people who are working in professions that interest you, as this will provide practical insight  about this type of work. In addition, taking initiative to work part-time or volunteering in a field of interest will provide you with a valuable career exploration  opportunity.

When exploring your career options, consider how they
match your:

Interests: Things you enjoy doing and are passionate about can provide important clues about work or career interests.

Values: The motivation or personal incentives needed for job satisfaction are unique to each person. By examining your work values, you can then determine what is  important to you and prioritize what role work will play in your life.

Abilities: Talents and natural abilities often indicate potential in a particular area. People often take for granted the skills that come easily to them, yet those are precisely  the areas that you should explore. With training, natural aptitudes can turn into career options.

Personality: Your unique combination of emotional and behavioural characteristics constitutes your personality. Different careers align with different personality types.  Knowing your personality can enable you to enhance your career choices and ultimately your career success.

As you grow and develop personally and professionally, your needs and interests may change over time, so take the time to reflect on your interests and values on an  ongoing basis. Staying in touch with yourself will ensure you are taking a proactive approach to your career planning.Source

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