5 Biggest Career Mistakes

Job Search Mistakes

Whether you are several years into your career or just starting your first job search, there are a number of potential mistakes which can be made along the way.  Making and learning from these mistakes is an important part of workplace development, however some can be more damaging than others.

Being aware of these pitfalls is the first step to avoiding them, so take a look at our guide to five of the biggest career mistakes.


Having No Plan

Failing to have a life plan in place could prove to be problematic.  Whether you have it laid out in your mind, or written down on paper, it is useful to have something to refer to  if you lose your way.  Of course, as life goes on, plans inevitably change, so bear in mind that you can alter and nurture any existing plans you have in place to accommodate these changes.  And your plan doesn’t have to be perfect – think of it like a loose framework to guide you through.


Failing To Take Advantage Of Opportunities

From not applying for that dream position, to not signing up to relevant training at work, failing to seize opportunities that come your way could be a big mistake.  Bear in mind that things are unlikely to change unless you make it happen.  You can make sure you don’t get left behind by keeping your skill set updated, networking with relevant people, and keeping an eye out for opportunities that match your abilities.

Remember, chance favors those who are prepared.


Not Recognizing Your Mistakes

Blaming others for your mistakes is a mistake in itself.  Not only will those around you (including your boss) know that you are culpable, but you will be unable to learn the error of your ways, and could easily make the same mistake again.  Accept where you went wrong, try to correct it, and take that knowledge with you to avoid a re-occurrence.   Blaming others is the surest way to fail in your career.


Not Recognizing Your Achievements

Failing to realise where you have excelled or achieved a goal could hold you back from developing in your career.  Recognize and reward your successes, and engage in a spot of self-promotion.  But don’t go overboard – let your colleagues/boss/department/industry know of your achievements through a bulletin board, case study, or by forwarding a positive email.

This can be essential if you are getting a review (or writing a self-review as many companies now require), applying for a job, or seeking a promotion.


Not Asking For Assistance

Whether you need emotional support, ideas for a new campaign, or input on a project, refusing to seek guidance from others is likely to hold you back.  All jobs can be tough at times, and having a support group around you can help you through these difficulties.  Not only this, but having a second pair of eyes look over your work, or asking another person to contribute ideas, could also improve your chances of overall success.

This can include a boss, a peer, or a mentor.  Bottom line – reach out.  You are most likely not alone and don’t need to struggle through things by yourself.


What do you think of these career mistakes?  Anything you would add or change based on your experience?

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  1. says

    I have started work on my masters degree during my vacation time. It is a little stressful now, but I know it will give me so many more career advancement options. I’m not even sure the specific path I want to take right now, but having the largest amount of options really appeals to me, and I definitely have an eye towards pouncing on the right opportunity when I see it!

  2. says

    Awesome post Robert. I totally agree with the points you have mentioned here. I really like the one about failing to take on opportunities. It easy to become tunnel visioned and distracted and let things pass us by. It is also easy to take the easy way and stay where we are comfortable. Sometimes the best things that happen to us are a result of us taking a risk and going outside our comfort zone. This is one thing I have stayed true with with my career. I have always reached for higher than I thought I could go.

  3. says

    Most people do not spend enough time learning about their career choice. Ask a young person what they want to be and they tell you X. Ask them what they have done to learn about it? Usually nothing! They do not know what skills are necessary, training/education requirements or much else. How can you have a plan, if you did not spend anytime learning about the career?

  4. says

    Great post. I think that I’ve made all these mistakes. The one that really stands out to me is the “not taking advantage of opportunities”. People aren’t going to come beg you to be promoted, other people are knocking on the door looking for the next step up, you need to be doing that too or the boss will think you are not interested.

  5. says

    Love this post – I’ve definitely done all of these things at some point in my career, and some at the same time!

    Another thing I struggle with is getting comfortable, which goes along with failing to take advantage of opportunities. Sometimes I’m just biding my time and putting in my hours instead of striving toward a goal or trying to expand my horizons. It’s easy to do a “good enough” job instead of the best I can. This is something I’m actively working to change in my current job – I want to always be working on some way to improve my performance and/or knowledge.

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