6 common career mistakes you must avoid

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By Timothy Sykes, Entrepreneur

You’ve probably thought about what you should do to get ahead in your career. But as it turns out, it’s just as important to consider what you should not do, too.

We all make mistakes in the workplace at one point or another. However, repeatedly making the same professional mistakes will decrease your happiness on the job and your quality of life. The good news is that many of these mistakes are easy to dodge in the first place. Here are six common professional mistakes and how to avoid them:


Not asking for enough money.

I get it. It’s hard to speak up and ask for what you’re worth. Plenty of people lowball themselves when making compensation demands, thinking it will make them seem more competitive.

However, you’re doing yourself a big disservice by not asking for enough money. If you’re underpaid, you’ll only be able to keep it up for so long before you begin to get discouraged by how much energy you’re expending and how little you’re receiving in return. Don’t just blurt out a number. Do some quality research on appropriate compensation for salaries or fees within your field before making a request. You deserve appropriate compensation!


Missing deadlines.

As writer Douglas Adams said, "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." While this is funny and relatable, if you miss deadlines, you’re probably letting opportunities pass you by as well.

Reliability is just as important as the quality of work that you do. If you’re constantly not delivering on time, then you’ll begin to get a reputation for being flaky. That’s not going to help your career advancement. To avoid this, be honest when quoting a timeline for a project. Don’t just be a yes person, especially if you don’t think you can deliver by a certain date. If you realize that you’re running late on a project, be proactive and ask for an extension before the final hour.


Working all the time.

Many people suffer from the delusion that working more is impressive and that taking time off is a sign of weakness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you work too much, you will eventually get burned out. Your work won’t be as effective as a worker, and you won’t have a good work-life balance.

For best results, make time off a priority. Recognize it for what it is: a chance to recalibrate and rest so that you can hit the ground running at your maximum when you do return to work.


Fear of networking.

Career growth and advancement is largely about who you know. So why do so many professionals stop networking?

Many professionals give up on networking after a while in the field, figuring it doesn’t matter anymore. Without connections, there are fewer people to think of you when opportunities arise. Eventually, the opportunities will dry up. No matter how far along in your career you are, continue seeking out and maintaining professional relationships with peers, colleagues, and ideally a mentor, too. You never know where they could lead!


Giving up on learning.

Just as many professionals give up on networking, plenty of people get lazy about learning as their career advances. It’s when you stop learning that you start stagnating in your career. This can eventually make you irrelevant, and who wants that?

Always stay curious. Keep learning about your field. Revisit the basics, and keep abreast of advancements in the field. Listen to podcasts, read books and keep up with world news. It keeps your mind nimble, and it makes you better able to adapt as changes come along in your industry.


Repeating mistakes over and over.

To a certain degree, mistakes are unavoidable and inevitable. Few people reach higher career levels without making a misstep or two (or ten). This is not necessarily a bad thing...if you’re able to learn from your mistakes. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, your professional life will be like the movie Groundhog Day, where you keep repeating the same cycle over and over.

How can you break free? Learn from your mistakes. If you are able to acknowledge a mistake, learn from it, and avoid it in the future, you’ll become stronger and steadier in your career over time.

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