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Archive for the ‘Career Change Mistakes to Avoid’ Category

11 Ways to Hurt Your Career

While most career advice focuses on how to succeed, we can all learn valuable lessons by dissecting career failure as well. Workplace experts offer insights into some of the top ways workers undermine their own careers and jeopardize their career development.   

1. Not Taking Your Education Seriously

If you party too much in college and end up with a run-of-the-mill 2.5 GPA, you’ll be passed over for the best entry-level jobs, says New York City-based executive recruiter and coach Brian Drum of Drum Associates. Not finishing your master’s degree is another way to hurt your career development goals, adds Anne Angerman, a career coach with Denver-based Career Matters.

2. Not Having a Plan

In the current poor job market, you may have defaulted into a career you aren’t crazy about. That’s OK, as long as you develop career plans to get where you want to be. “Think of every job you take as a stepping-stone to your next job,” Drum advises.

3. Lying

You’ll lose professional credibility in a hurry if you lie, from exaggerating on your resume to getting caught fibbing on Facebook. “If someone calls in sick to work and then that evening posts a photo on Facebook of their extra day vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, that’s a big problem,” says corporate etiquette specialist Diane Gottsman of the Protocol School of Texas in San Antonio.

4. Sullying Your Reputation on Facebook or Twitter

Social media can harm your reputation in other ways, too. Personal posts and tweets from work — when you’re supposed to be doing your job — can tag you as a slacker. And the content of your posts or tweets can come back to haunt you as well — you never know who might stumble upon those bachelor-party photos. “You need to assume that every boss and potential employer knows how to use Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, and post from the standpoint that everyone is watching even if in reality they’re not,” Gottsman says.

5. Not Respecting Professional Boundaries

Sharing TMI about your personal life with colleagues is unprofessional. “Your coworkers don’t want to hear about your fights with your husband,” Angerman says. On the other hand, if you’re ultraprivate and work with a chatty group, join the conversations occasionally so coworkers don’t resent you.

6. Gossiping, Slandering, Excessively Criticizing

If you publicly bash fellow employees, the boss, the board of directors or even your competitors, you’ll be perceived as negative at best and a troublemaker at worst. The ramifications can be broad and long term, Gottsman says. “Industries are tight,” she says. “You don’t want to be the one who started that rumor about the head of your industry.” As far as bad-mouthing competitors — what if your company merges with a competitor, or you want to work for one someday?

7. Carrying on an Inappropriate Relationship with Your Boss

Never a good idea, but an especially bad one if your boss is married. “When you get involved in a drama or in something unethical that can be brought out in the open, you’re asking for trouble,” Gottsman says.

8. Not Controlling Your Alcohol Intake or Libido

Getting drunk at the office party or on a business trip damages your credibility. Ditto a romantic, ahem, “indiscretion” that your colleagues know about.

9. Job-Hopping Just for the Money

Job-hopping — in moderation — may not automatically disqualify you from a position. “But it gets to the point — like if you have seven or eight jobs by the time you’re 35 — that employers are not going to want to invest in you,” Drum says. Also, if you have leadership aspirations, keep in mind that the top dogs of many large corporations have been with those organizations for long periods, he says. Additionally, many companies have “last in, first out” layoff policies, which could leave you out of a job if you never stick around long enough to build tenure anywhere.

10. Losing Touch with References
You’ll kick yourself later if you leave a job without collecting personal contact information from colleagues who can serve as professional references for you in the future. “If you were forced to leave a job and you can’t ask your boss for a reference, hopefully you’ve built up some rapport with a colleague and can ask them,” Angerman says.

11. Leaving a Job on Bad Terms

Don’t become a lame duck when you’ve got one foot out the door, Drum says. “The employer only remembers about the last five minutes you were there,” he says. Give proper notice and don’t leave a mess behind. And by all means, do not make a huge dramatic production of it when you quit, complete with cursing, slandering and throwing things, Gottsman advises. “It’s very difficult to get another job when you’ve left destruction in your wake,” she says.

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Four Reasons You May Not Be Getting the Job

Why not? According to career coaches and experts, there are several common mistakes that job hunters make over and over, often unknowingly, that prevent them from getting the jobs they want. Below are four of the mistakes most often made by job applicants. To be successful in your search, make sure you’re avoiding them.

1. You don’t prepare for the interview (or you prepare inadequately). “In a competitive market, you can’t afford to wing it,” says Roy Cohen, a career coach and the author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” “That means rigorously researching the company, the position, and any relevant information that will provide context for the interview. You also need to consider why you want the position, what qualifies you, and how the company will benefit. [The] bottom line [is that] it’s about being smarter and better qualified, even against candidates who have more experience than you.”

2. You don’t follow up–or you follow up ineffectively. “The devil is in the details,” Cohen says. “If [a hiring manager] has two equally qualified candidates, who gets the offer? The candidate who follows up thoughtfully. That candidate conveys gratitude for the opportunity to interview, an awareness of the issues and challenges facing the organization and the hiring manager, and some insight into how to address these issues and challenges. It’s not just a perfunctory ‘thank you.’ That’s a start, but it’s never enough.”

Anne Angerman, a career coach and president of Career Matters, recommends sending a thank-you email immediately after the interview and then following up with a handwritten note. Try to convey not just your gratitude but also your understanding of the position and what you could bring to it.

3. You don’t exhibit a confident image. Rather than appearing nervous or unsure of yourself, you want to appear enthusiastic and confident. “Practice your interview with a friend or tape-record yourself in advance,” Angerman says. “Practice articulating short, concise answers and smiling. Exude enthusiasm and confidence; look great! Memorize a few stories [about times when] you have made a change in your company. Talk about ideas you have for your position.” While appearing confident is a must, don’t overdo it: Nobody wants to hire an egotistical maniac.

4. You make assumptions. Some job candidates assume they have the job “in the bag” just because the interview went well, Cohen says. Others assume they don’t have a chance because they haven’t heard back after a certain number of days or weeks. Instead of making assumptions about the process, “you need to manage every step in the process, from initial contact to offer,” Cohen adds. “At any point, it can break down. When you take your eye off the ball, you lose the potential to intervene quickly and objectively. Nothing less than flawless execution is acceptable.” And if you haven’t heard back, “never, ever read into radio silence,” he says. “Find a reason to stay in touch.”

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By Nancy Mann Jackson

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10 Career Change Mistakes to Avoid

Are you considering changing your career? Are you bored, fed-up, lost, or otherwise unhappy in your current career? Are you facing a crossroads at which you need to decide between staying in your current field and moving to a new one? Do you have skills that you are not using in your current career? Have you been promoted to a point where you are no longer doing what you love?

Changing careers is one of the biggest decision job-seekers face, and with many possible outcomes and consequences. Before you make that jump to a new career field, consider these common career change mistakes so that you can avoid them as you make the transition from one career to your next.

1. Making a career change without a plan. Probably the biggest mistake you can make is attempting to change careers without a plan. A successful career change can often take months to accomplish when you have a strategy, so without one, you could end up adrift for an even longer period. Having a detailed action plan (including items such as strategies, finances, research, and education/training) is essential to your success. Without a plan, you might take the first job offer that comes along, whether it is a good fit for you or not..

2. Changing careers because you hate your job. Don’t make the mistake of confusing hating your current job with hating your current career. Take the time to analyze whether it’s just the job/employer/boss that you hate, or whether it’s the career/skills/work that you dislike. The same goes with if you are feeling bored or lost with your job; review whether it’s the job/employer or the career. Whatever you determine, it’s best not to leave your job if possible until you have a plan for finding a new job/career.

3. Making a career change solely based on money/benefits. Certain career fields are very alluring because of the salary and other benefits they offer, but be very careful of switching careers because of all the dollar signs. Keep repeating to yourself, “money won’t buy me happiness.” Remember that you may make more money, but if you hate your new career, you’ll probably be spending that money on stress- and health-related expenses. A career that’s hot today could be gone tomorrow, so dig deeper.

4. Changing careers because of outside pressure. Don’t let your parents, significant others, or anyone else influence your career choice. They don’t have to live that career every day; you do. If you love what you do and earn a reasonable living, why is it anyone’s business but yours? If you switch careers because of outside pressure to have a “better career,” and then hate your new career, you’ll end up resenting the person(s) who pressured you to make the switch.

5. Making a career change without refreshing your network and finding a new mentor. Don’t ever attempt a career change alone. As soon as you have identified the career field you want to switch into, begin developing new network contacts. Conduct informational interviews. Join industry associations. People in your network can provide inside information about job-openings and can even champion you to hiring managers. Networking is essential for all job-seekers, but even more so for career-changers. And use a current or new mentor as a sounding board to help guide you in the transition.

6. Changing careers without examining all the possibilities. Don’t jump career fields without first conducting thorough research into all the possibilities, including career fields you may never have considered. By conducting research into careers you have never considered or been exposed to, you may find the career of your dreams. Talk to people in your network, read career and job profiles, meet with a career management professional. The more information you have about various career choices, the more successful you’ll be in making a career change.

7. Making a career change without assessment of likes/dislikes and without self-reflection. Self-assessment (of your skills, values, and interests) is a critical component to career-change success. Make a list of the skills you love doing (in your job, in your hobbies, in all aspects of your life) and the skills you never want to do again. Next, consider taking one or more assessment tests, especially those with a career component. Preparing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Analysis is also a useful activity. All these activities are designed so that you better understand yourself your product so that you can find the best career for you and then sell yourself to employers in that new career.

8. Changing careers based on the success of others. It’s human nature to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. Just because your best friend or neighbor is successful in a certain career does not mean that you will be or that you will be happy doing it so certainly consider the career field, but make sure you do the research before jumping into it. Finally, just to add yet another cliche, too many job-seekers switch careers on the assumption that the grass is always greener and often times find out that is not the case.

9. Making a career change without necessary experience/education. As a career-changer, you must find a way to bridge the (experience, skills, and education) gap between your old career and your new one. While transferable skills (skills that are applicable in multiple career fields, such as communications skills) are an important part of career change, it is often necessary to gain additional training and experience before you can find a good job in a new career field. Research whether you need additional training, education, or certifications. And try to find time to volunteer, temp, intern, or consult in your new career field what some experts refer to as developing a parallel career before quitting your current job and searching for a full-time position in your new career field.

10. Changing careers without updating job-search skills/techniques. If it’s been a while since you were last on the job market, take the time to polish your job-search skills, techniques, and tools. Review your resume-writing techniques, master networking, and polish your interviewing skills. What’s the sense of doing all this research and preparation in attempting to change careers if you are not current with your job-search skills? Use the resources in our Career Toolkit to examine and polish all aspects of your job-hunting techniques and tools.

Final Thoughts
You have so many resources at your fingertips, both here at Quintessential Careers and other career sites, that there is no excuse to making any of these career change mistakes. But if you do make one of them, step back and see if there is a way to fix it and move on… a career should not control you; you should control your career.

by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

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