10 Career Mistakes to Avoid in 2020: Career Advice for college students
If you’re graduating from college and looking for a job, it’s time to think about career strategies. And if you’re already in a professional position, evaluating your career growth is smart, even if you think you’re on the right track.
Keep in mind that the first few years of your working life are important, and it’s easy to make mistakes. But mistakes cost time, effort, and embarrassment. Your best bet is to avoid making them.
Here are the 10 biggest career mistakes that new graduates make in the first few years. Which ones do you need to work on?
Your first job must be your dream job.
Everyone dreams of the perfect job—top salary, a gym and cafeteria on site, flex- or telecommute time—but you need to think about long-term goals. Ask yourself:
- How will your first job help you grow professionally?
- Is formal training available?
- What about reimbursement for outside courses?
- Are employees promoted frequently?
- Do performance reviews take place regularly?
- Is eligibility for salary increases clearly stated? What about bonuses?
- Is mentorship offered?
- Are benefits such as good health insurance, profit sharing, and a 401(k) retirement plan available?
You’ll also want to learn about company culture, management style, and social/environmental responsibility. Do the company’s values align with yours?
Landing that dream job right out of college might happen, but only if you’re sure what that dream job looks like.
You just need a job—any job.
If you’re desperate, stop looking for a professional position right now. Here’s why.
First, it’s hard to hide desperation, and it might be the reason you’re not landing a job—if you’ve had interviews. Second, you’re more likely to choose a job that’s a poor fit, and you’ll end up where you started.
If you’re in a financial crunch, find a job waiting tables, doing retail sales, or freelancing. A temp job or a virtual assistant position can tide you over and help you relax while you reassess. You can even ask for student loan deferment, if needed.
Worried about your job history and resume? Consider an , or volunteer work in your field. You can also join professional organizations and attend free training or workshops that will make you a more desirable job candidate.
And remember that all jobs require transferable skills that will look great on your resume. When you’re ready, restart your job search in a confident state of mind and you’ll get results.
You’re tempted to lie about skills or credentials.
Just don’t do it. Ever. In the worst case, you’ll lose your job. At best, you’ll always have to hide something, and you have better things to do.
Save yourself some trouble and be upfront and honest. Why not breathe easy and be yourself? You are enough. And if you’re lacking certain skills or credentials, take a class or get some training.
There’s no better feeling than confidence and pride in using your skills to accomplish wonderful things.
You’re staying safe in your comfort zone.
After a few months at your new job, you feel settled in. A year later, you can almost do your job blindfolded, and after-work happy hours are a blast.
Life is good, right? But beware: coasting might be nice, but don’t get too comfortable. If you want to move up, get out of your comfort zone and examine your long-term career goals.
Where do you want to be in five or ten years from now? Twenty years? Get there by getting out of your comfort zone—often.
- Attend networking events or community business group meetings.
- Ask a senior employee to mentor you.
- Lead a project initiative.
- Meet with your manager to discuss ways to improve your skills.
- Seek additional responsibilities.
- Take the initiative. Don’t wait for directions—ask. Just do it.
As the saying goes: no pain, no gain. A comfortable working life is nice, but it’s not challenging, and before you know it, your friends and colleagues will pass you by. Get up and get moving!
Your business etiquette doesn’t pass the test.
Workplace etiquette is obvious sometimes. You’re polite to managers, you don’t yawn at meetings, and you mind your manners at lunch. Right?
But workplace etiquette goes far beyond that, and if yours isn’t up to par, you might have trouble or even miss out on a promotion.
Communication—in person and email—is one trouble spot you might want to think about. Gossip, complaining about work or personal problems, and frequent sarcasm or an argumentative attitude makes you look bad.
With email, not reading carefully and responding accurately can mean multiple follow-ups for clarification—or errors. And remember, attitude shows in your writing; don’t think it doesn’t. And proofread emails like you would any other written document, but don’t trust an app! They’re not perfect, and serious blunders can slip right by.
Stress is managing you instead of you managing stress.
On-the-job stress is inevitable. How you handle stress is a choice.
Find ways to stay calm and take things in stride so you can focus on priorities. Stress-reduction techniques are popular—see what works for you. Deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness training are just a few examples, and a brisk walk on your lunch hour can do wonders.
And even when your stress level is off the charts, you can monitor your reactions. Take care to handle responsibilities and speak to colleagues and managers kindly and politely as you normally would.
And don’t forget to smile—it does a lot more to improve your mood than venting. Resist the urge to call or text a friend to complain; you’ve got to do this on your own and learn to not let it bother you. Show your company you’re up for a challenge—a promotion might depend on it.
You’re doing your best, but your talk is negative.
You might be prone to negative self-talk as well as negative talk in general.
If you silently berate yourself for weaknesses or mistakes and think you’re not good enough, you only reinforce those beliefs. Why not replace negative self-talk with positive? Instead of “I can’t do this” think “Yes, I can! I can do an awesome job.”
And if complaining or pointing out the bad side of things is your specialty, think twice. You’re not only making yourself unhappy, you’re pushing ambitious people away and attracting equally negative people who, in the long run, won’t be supportive of your career ambitions.
Your job hopping isn’t helping you.
Gone are the days when a typical employee works at one company for life. Today, choices are almost unlimited, and a few job changes early in your career aren’t unusual.
But four or five jobs in the first couple of years doesn’t look good. To a recruiter or hiring manager, you’ll seem indecisive, at best. How much time will you give your next job after a company invests in your training?
Your best bet is to know your career goals and choose a job wisely. And although you shouldn’t stay in a job that makes you miserable, don’t cut out too fast. Try to resolve problems and check in with yourself. Is the job to blame, or are your expectations unrealistic?
Networking is the last thing on your list.
If you’re coasting along in your comfort zone (see #4), networking might not be a top priority. Some people love networking and others hate it, but it’s an essential part of career growth.
Get out and meet people in your industry. Start with social events at your company even if you think they’re boring. It’s an opportunity to make connections with colleagues, managers, executives, and even outside experts, and it’s up to you to make it fun.
Join clubs, associations, and professional organizations, and attend their events. Check out your local chamber of commerce and even professional Meetup groups. You never know who you’ll meet, who you can help, and who can help you. At the very least, you’ll make friends, and who doesn’t need a new friend or two?
You’re too scared to ask for a raise.
Asking for a raise can be scary. What if you’re turned down?
Look at it this way. If you don’t ask for a raise, you won’t get one. It’s that simple.
Get your confidence on, get out of your comfort zone, and do some research. Find out what other companies pay. Make a list of your accomplishments and what you’d like to achieve in the upcoming year and make an appointment with your manager.
If you take a positive attitude and show up armed with reasons, your chances are good. If you’re turned down, ask why. If it’s your job performance, ask for feedback and ways you can improve. Tell your manager you’re committed to growth and ask for a timeline to request again.
Remember, if you’re underpaid, you might feel resentful, and that will affect your motivation and job performance. If you’re turned down the next time, it might be time to start job hunting.
We hope this list of common mistakes helps you in your career. Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below, and don’t forget to register for free updates. Stay on top of the latest career information, internships, and entry-level jobs right here at Gradsiren.
Possible external link. https://www.forbes.com/sites/annlatham/2018/04/11/16-reasons-why-you-should-get-out-of-your-comfort-zone-now/
The information on this site is provided as a courtesy. GradSiren is not a career or legal advisor and does not guarantee job interviews or offers.
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