Top 6 Worst Career Mistakes to Avoid in 2021

career mistakes to avoid

These career mistakes should be avoided in any type of career you choose. Not only will they harm you, but they will make your future in the industry difficult. Getting a job is not the only thing that matters these days. You have to work at keeping it. And if you steer clear of these 6 major career mistakes, you will have a healthier career and happier life too.

While there are so many career mistakes out there to know and learn not to do, the six points listed here are among the top mistakes I have seen. And I have been in the IT industry as a manager for the last 12 years. Take a look at the list below and let me know in the comments if I can help you – pro bono.


1. Don’t Burn Bridges

Whatever job you are at, first, work at being good at it. You were given a job to provide a service. You aren’t supposed to be slacking off. A company invested their money into you so you can work for them and in return, get a paycheck.

In the same vein, make sure that you are extremely professional at any job throughout your career. Many people let their emotions get the best of them at work. While this is not only not professional, it will come back to bite you in the future.

This world is small, and you will inevitably bump into someone from your past. And when that happens, you should be ready. Be ready by knowing that you left any and every job on a good note. People don’t need to like you, they just need to respect you. Leaving with negative words or actions, will only make your future difficult. You may want a job in the future from the same person you were once negative towards. Whatever you do, don’t burn any bridges.

2. Job Hopping

As a hiring manager myself, I always scan through a person’s resume to see a) the longest time they have been at a job, b) the shortest time they have been at a job, and c) how many jobs they have burned through. By looking at these points, I will be able to make a assumption of how steady and reliable a person you are. If you job-hopped 3 jobs in a span of 2 years, that’s a red flag. That tells me that either you get bored easily, or you went after more money, or that you were fired. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn, but a big career mistake to make.

Always try to stay at a job for a minimum of 2 years, and if you cant, you better have a solid reason to explain why. And there are many legit reasons to job-hop, but most times it will come down to the 3 points above. Also, if you just didn’t like a job in the first 6 months, I always encourage my peers to stick it out and give it a chance. Our minds do not like change so getting used to something new is already a challenge. If you can push through the first 6 months, you will get more comfortable and maybe even end up liking it. If you still don’t like it after a year and a half, start looking for a new gig.

3. Career Goals

Always have career goals. One of the biggest career mistakes I have seen in interviews is when someone tells me they don’t have career goals. While you may not know what will happen 5 years from now, think about where you think you want to be and set that as your goal. And a year of two down the line, you may (or may not) have a change of heart. Go with the flow, but always have a path set out for yourself. It is not only encouraging to hear about a candidate’s career goals, it is also a reflection on how you want to grow.

4. Develop Your Self

Great if you got that college degree and now you think you’re set for life, right? Wrong. If we are not growing, we are dying. And that is the case not just with life itself, but our careers too. Always keep up with your industry. Most industries have certifications, conferences, awards to chase, further education programs, and workshops for you. Take advantage of that to always keep yourself fresh and current. This not only gives you a competitive advantage, it keeps you encouraged and motivated.

While you should develop your career, this point also goes for develoing other areas of your life. For example, maybe you are in the IT industry, but had a passion to cook. Use the time (and money) you have now to take cooking classes and grow that side of you. Carpe Diem! Do it so you can feel accomplished. And better yet, do it so you can be happy.

5. What’s Your Worth?

I coach and mentor a lot of people in my industry (IT) about knowing their worth and asking for it. I can’t tell you how many times I see people downgrade themselves (monetarily) because they are scared to ask for what they want. Also, this is one of the most common career mistakes I have seen women make. And lets get this straight – women are ALWAYS monetarily downgraded from their male counterparts. Change the narrative regardless of your gender affiliation. Do the work to find out your worth.

Always do your research and maybe reach out to recruiters to ask how much money you should be making. Ask your male friends what the salary range is for someone in your field with your level of experience. When negotiating your salary, always stand firm with what you want and never negotiate below your minimum. I’ve written an article here on the 7 strategies to negotiate your salary. Check that out next!

Real Life Example

As a manager myself, I came into work knowing that someone who should have been paid $150,000/year was making $110,000 a year. He was being cheated of the $40,000 because he didn’t know his worth. After speaking with him, I guided him on how to negotiate that amount with his company and a few months later, he was making $140,000. Now, if any of you in IT corporate know – this is not typical of how raises go. If you were getting $110,000, you may get a 5% max raise the next year, which puts you at $115,500. Getting to $140,000 would take you a few years.

Moral of the story is – ALWAYS know your worth, and ask for it. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. And what’s the worst that could happen? They say no, but at least you tried. Never work at a place that doesn’t value you.

6. Stand Up for You

The corporate or work life can be brutal. One of the most common career mistakes people make is not standing up for themselves. I have been that person. When I started in the IT industry, I didn’t want to piss anyone off (see #1 above). I allowed people blame me for things I never did. And I stayed quite because I wanted everyone to like me. And if they didn’t like me, I wasn’t going to piss them off further. What a sorry state of mind I was in.

Luckily, I had a friend who guided me on how to stand up for myself. And I first had to trust that what I was doing was the best I could. I did everything in my power and strength to be good at what I did.

And then when someone blamed me or used me as the scape goat (because I was so quiet and didn’t have a voice), I started standing up for myself. I became stronger each day and with each job, I always stood up for myself regardless of who was in front of me. I did it professionally, but I did it. And you can and should too.


In Conclusion

As our lives evolve, so do our careers. The corporate world is becoming brutal by the day. Some of these companies have even started mistreating their employees. So always make sure you are standing up for yourself and that you let everyone know your value.

So while this list includes career mistakes you shouldn’t make, know when to stay and know when to leave.

And as I mentioned above, being in the IT industry for over 16 years, and being a manager for over 12 years, I would be happy to help anyone trying to navigate the waters – all free of charge. Drop me a note in the contact form here.

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