12 ways you are sabotaging your career
I’ve had to learn most of these the hard way
- Not having awareness of the market value of your role and industry therefore accepting a lower salary.
As daunting as negotiating can be at first, it is a skill worth developing. Start by recognising your bargaining position and the specific value you bring to the table. Be assertive.
- Not networking both inside and outside of your company.
Decisions around promotions are influenced by your presence at social environments and opportunities often come via people. This is how you advance in a large corporate. Also helps you to develop a support network in advance should you ever need it. I attended a talk with Carrie Gracie (link to her article), an editor who is currently in an equal pay row with her employers, the BBC. She reinforced how important solidarity had been in her plight against injustice.
- Not being proactive in seeking opportunities to advance, also known as ‘not sitting at the table of your career’. As much as other people may have your best interests at heart, they can never advocate for your advancement in the way that you can. So avoid being passive and leaving these matters to your manager or your team. This goes beyond just working hard and hoping to be noticed. It requires that you volunteer to take on projects that will give you the chance to shine and show what you are capable of.
- Not contributing to meetings, nor sharing ideas in group settings.Your thinking is what sets you apart from your peers and sitting quietly whilst other share portrays you as somebody who has nothing interesting to add. I’m not suggesting that you talk for talking sake but rather demonstrate that you are able to bring ideas that will add value.
- Not being effective during working hours thus choosing to catch up in time best spent with family or recharging your batteries.
‘There is a time for everything’. It’s great to be committed to work but life is not all about work. That’s what causes people to burn out and one day realise (often when it’s too late) that there were other things that they should have prioritised.
- Not taking a long-term view of your career.
Taking a long term view means that you can recognise other areas worth investing in now that would boost your prospects further down the line. These may include skills such as leadership, people management, sales and learning new languages. Careers, just like life, can be unpredictable and taking this approach means you can be prepared to go back to the drawing board and explore a new direction if you so wish or circumstances demand that you do. By also committing to learning and developing yourself, you begin to build your self-confidence, which impacts your self-perception.
- Not anticipating nor adapting to change at work.
There is no denying that technology and innovation are changing the future of work, which in itself is bound to create instability and uncertainties. This will lead to restructuring and change in management. Whilst you cannot control this, you can however develop adaptability skills. ‘It’s not a matter of whether your cheese will be moved because it will. Rather how best you can prepare your mind to go in search of new cheese or anticipate that current cheese may run out. Complaining is not a strategy nor is burying your head in the sand.
- Staying in a job that you hate or makes you depressed.
Life is too short to be spent in such toxic environments. Find the courage to seek out your options in advance, so you don’t end up jumping ship in a reactive manner. Always best to head towards the ideal role than to try and simply escape what you don’t like.
- Not taking the time to figure out how and what you want to add value to in your career.
The process of experimentation is how you truly find out what matters and you will commit to in the long-term. Competence can be up for sale to the highest bidder but commitment never is. The former is a heart thing and not a cheque thing. Purpose therefore is found at the intersection of earning a living through avenues that you are committed to. That’s how you get paid for what you would do for free.
- Not improving your interview skills.
This is vital, and thus an on-going project so that you are able to bring your CV to life in an effective manner. What helps is to clearly define your values, work on your self-confidence, and utilise storytelling (putting a select stories together from your experience so the interviewer can be clear on what your differentiation is). Also asking the right questions so you can make an informed decision. What are the company values, long term vision, what’s expected of you and how performance will be reviewed are a few worth putting across.
- Not being clear on your career boundaries.
You can’t always have it also best to determine in advance what your negotiable are. Higher salary can often require longer working hours. What are you willing to put up with?
- Not working on your personality.
Skills are important but never underestimate the role of your optimism, patience, being good-natured, listening skills, being interesting and also showing interest in those around you. Not a case of just being a corporate robot or seeking to please everyone. I’ve noticed that in some cases, personality trumps skills. Hence why most business decisions are often made over lunch and people work with those they like.