Saturday, May 12, 2012

Career Crushing Mistakes that You May Not Know You’re Making!

Here at SMART Career Planning, we’re all about straight talk and the strategies you can start using today to move your career forward.   One of the best places to start is being aware of the following “Career Crushing Mistakes” that just about everyone is making.

As you read though the following bullets, you will find that none of these revelations are stunning or earth-shattering, but, you may find that they are blunt reminders of things that you have already heard or suspected but were far too afraid to acknowledge out loud. 

Mistake #1:   Failing to realize that all jobs are temporary. 

Even if you already have a great job, if you don’t have a plan for getting your next gig all lined up, right here, right now, at this very moment, then you’re an idiot. The only things you can count on now for certain are death, taxes, and layoffs.
  • In today’s economy and in most company’s “short-term-live-and-die-by-stock-price-culture,” things change in an instant and you are one re-org away from being on the street.
  • You are just one job elimination away from being handed your ‘not so pretty in pink slip’.
  • Unless you can afford to retire, you can be sure that your current job is probably not your last.
  • If you go to work on any given morning unprepared to leave that afternoon, then you have your head in the sand. Always be mindful of the possibility that today could be your final day at your company.

Mistake #2:    Ignoring the importance of social media.

Social media is here to stay and you have two choices:
  • Learn to use it to your advantage
  • Ignore it and say ‘Good-bye’ to any future career aspirations you may have

Mistake #3:  Not having an updated résumé posted online and searchable at all times.

This bullet ties into bullet #2 and LinkedIn is a great tool for doing this.  Your LinkedIn profile is a marketing tool and there is no ‘downside’ to posting an updated résumé online.  Your résumé is a ‘living document’ that lets you continue to expand your network and prepare for your next career opportunity.

Savvy recruiters/head hunters always do keyword searches on LinkedIn profiles long before they cold call any candidates or spend a dime or any time on anything else.  In order to ensure that you don’t miss out on potentially great opportunities, it makes sense to take the time to properly market yourself and your skill set before you need to find a new job.  Even if you are not looking for work, you can always let people know that after they have contacted you.

Mistake #4:   Not recognizing that you must be able to sell yourself and your accomplishments.

Unless both your boss and your boss’s boss know that you are exceptional, you may as well be invisible.  The game can change at any moment and anyone could be your next boss.  As long as you remain invisible, you have absolutely no shot at advancing your career or keeping your job when times get tough.

Just working hard and expecting that your results alone will be recognized, noticed, or will be appreciated guarantees one thing and one thing only.  That one thing is old age!

Focusing on doing what you do better than anyone else and trusting that your accomplishments and skill set is enough, guarantees you one thing and one thing only:  a long frustrating career labouring in oblivion.

Mistake #5:  Failing to grow your personal network.

Sending your résumé to a blind advertisement is like sending it into a black hole.  Most recruiters will tell you that networking will deliver more job interviews to you than any other method.

Depending on your personality, networking is either a lot of fun or a lot of work. If it’s work for you, have the discipline to start now. Building a network takes time, effort and sincerity.
Start taking people to lunch. Start attending coffees, dinners, after-work and networking events.
When attending networking event, set SMART [Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound] goals for yourself.   For example, “I want to have a good conversation and exchange business cards with at least 3 people during this event.”

Mistake #6:   Not engaging in physical exercise on a regular/frequent basis.

One of the best investments you can make in yourself is to sweat on a regular basis.
Jog.  Work out.  Hit the bike paths.   Any kind of physical exercise, followed by relaxation, will clear your mind. Positive thoughts and innovative, breakthrough ideas will just pop in.

Regular exercise is not a choice.  Exercise is an essential part of any successful career. It is an essential part of a healthy and balanced life. Adopt a lifestyle regimen that includes regular exercise.  Regular exercise changes your mental and physical life.  It helps you perform better at work and enriches your home life.

Exercise is not just about enabling you to look better in your jeans (which is true). It’s about giving you the energy to bring your “A” game to work every day and the resilience to persevere during difficult times.

Mistake #7:   Failing to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.

There are many ways to differentiate yourself from the masses, but let me give you just ONE example to start off with.

Start a blog.  Your blog is your living résumé.

It shows how you think. It shows how you write. It shows what is important to you. It can also draw career and/or entrepreneurial opportunities to you. What is your passion? Educate your readers on your passion, help your community grow and you will be able to set yourself up to be an expert/thought leader in a particular subject area.

Employers of the future will love bloggers. Microsoft and Apple love them now.  Bloggers are mentors and employers love hiring mentors — they raise everybody’s performance.

Mistake #8:    Failing to keep your skills up to date.

There is really no excuse for failing to keep your skills current and thanks to the Internet; it won’t even cost you anything but your time.  Many colleges, universities and private institutions, including YouTube, offer self-directed courses in almost any subject you can think of and they often offer these courses for FREE.

Mistake #9:    Believing that you are irreplaceable/Not having a ‘back-up’ plan.

Unless you OWN THE COMPANY, you CAN be replaced.

The old adage proposes that you should always, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”   Stuff happens.  The peace of mind you will gain from a well thought out back-up plan is a gift of immeasurable value. 

Mistake #10:   Not recognizing that loyalty should be reserved for YOUR FAMILY ONLY.

Even though many companies try to foster a ‘family environment’ to create loyalty to the organization, and it would be great if this loyalty were truly a two-way street and was sustainable, but unfortunately, it isn’t.

In order for companies to remain competitive, some jobs, as defined in terms of job descriptions, responsibilities and duties will need to be either reviewed or removed completely. 

If the company concludes that particular role or position doesn’t help enhance the P&L, the position will be eliminated regardless of the ‘loyalty’ of that ‘family member’.

By being too loyal to your company, you will likely wind up being disloyal to those who matter most – your immediate family.

In business, nothing is certain and anything is possible.  If your start creating your future now, your success is inevitable.

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at