5 Common Career Mistakes

Workers have a lot of stress on their shoulders now because they have to do more with less and are scared that they could lose their jobs.  Careers aren’t linear anymore.  There’s no one single path to the top, and getting there isn’t for everyone anyway.  The amount of years you spend at a company doesn’t translate into you becoming the CEO.  A lot of professionals that I’ve spoken to make a few common mistakes that prevent them from getting ahead in their careers.  Here are five common career mistakes that employees make and what you should do in order to have a more successful career:

Common mistakes employees make

1. Forgetting to maintain a network while you’re employed

Workers avoid expanding their networks because they already feel secure in their current position. They view networking as important to getting a job, but once they have the job, then they forget all about it. You should always expand your network because there is no job security and you could get laid off in an instant. Knowing this, you should constantly meet new people, both at work and outside of work. Use social networks and conferences as a way to connect with new people, because they might turn into your life-line if you want to, or have to, make a move.

2. Thinking that your company is going to manage your career

You are in charge of your own career, not your employer. Your management will provide resources and connections, but it’s your job to ask for them and use them to benefit the company, not just yourself. You need to be in the driver’s seat in your career, not the passenger’s seat. Be persistent and not afraid to ask for help or new project opportunities.

3. Not keeping track of your career accomplishments

No one is going to keep track of your career except you, and you should because you can use your accomplishments to market yourself into a new position. You don’t want to be in a position where you have to scramble to locate the results of some of your projects over the past few years – have that information on hand and update it frequently. One way to do this is by making a list of your roles and responsibilities, and then putting the results you’ve achieved next to each of them.

4. Waiting to get a raise or promotion

A lot of workers feel that if they work really hard, the raises and promotions will come. That’s not always how it works. After you feel that you’ve proven yourself, you should build a case and present it to your manager on why you should make more money. If nothing else, it will give you a good sense of how valuable you are at your company, and what your potential is there.

5. Ignoring lateral move opportunities

Sometimes you have to move from side to side in order to move up. By gaining experience in different parts of your organization, you are better suited to take a higher level job. This is especially important if there aren’t any opportunities to advance at your current position. For instance, if you want to be in charge of your marketing department, you might want to have experience in different marketing groups, such as internet marketing and direct marketing.

Dan Schawbel

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. His new book, a New York Times best seller, is called Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press) and his previous book, Me 2.0, was a #1 international bestseller.

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