Five Career Mistakes To Avoid

This post is a guest-article for personal friend David Lurie and his business SetSights.

Job hunting can be a hugely personal matter, in essence what you are doing is selling yourself, or rather the skills and abilities you have to offer and the selection process involves scrutiny of every fascet of yourself in both a professional and personal capacity.

It comes as no surprise then that few of us realise how many bad habits we constantly employ throughout our career which harm both our professional development and chances of selection success. Here are a few I have become aware of myself personally, with no basis other than personal reflection:

1 – Tunnel vision

Everyone has their own idea of their ideal job or where they’d like to be, however that is often all this is, an idea. A nebulous, ill-defined notion of that perfect role. A common mistake is to rule out certain roles or areas of employment before even applying in light of these notions. The selection process is often protracted for a reason, it takes time to get to know a candidate and their suitability. Similarly, it takes time to get to know what a company or a role has to offer you as an employee. Cast the net a little wider next time you consider a new role, if you find something’s not for you, at least it has been considered, you may just find that job you never knew you might have wanted.

2 – It’s not me, it’s you

Criticism is often a bitter pill to swallow. No matter how constructive, objective and professional the criticism, ego often gets in the way of taking it onboard. HR departments are trained in objectively seeking out suitable candidates without personal bias or discrimination, chances are if you get turned down, the employer’s reasons are worth thinking about and improving upon. Resist the urge to blame the employer with lines such as “They had their mind made up” or “They’re looking for the wrong kind of guy”. Find out what you did wrong and fix it for next time, your ego might take a little bruising, but in the long run you’ll be glad.

3 – Dissing the ex

So things didn’t go so well with your previous employer and your prospective employer wants to know why. While it’s always prudent to provide a reason for leaving your last post, keep it factual, professional and emotion free. No matter what your reasons, resentment for your previous employer shows an embittered nature and a lack of professionalism. Remember your previous employer was once a prospective employer interviewing you as well. A prospective employer will not be impressed with the notion of hiring someone prone to becoming resentful and petty.

4 – Not having questions

Despite how unidirectional it may feel sometimes, recruitment is a two way process. Employers don’t want employees who don’t feel the organisation is right for them so take every available opportunity to get to know the firm better and assess it’s culture, values and working environment, in addition to the particulars of your role. Find out how you can contribute and what possibilities there are for attaining new skills and advancing yourself. This shows an interest and confidence and definitely leaves a good impression.

5 – It’s all about the Benjamins

It’s a fact that were it not for money, most of us wouldn’t be in our jobs. Salary is a very real element of choosing a position, however it shouldn’t be seen as your primary motivation during the assessment process. While negotiations regarding salary are welcome, be sure to also show an interest in the role, advancement of skills and responsibility and the organisation as a whole.

These are but a few of the bad habits which could potentially undermine career potential. A positive attitude and a willingness to improve every aspect of your employability is the first step in avoiding these and others.

Comments are welcome as are suggestions for other “mistakes” to avoid from your own experience.

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