Focus On These 5 Things To Avoid A Career Misstep

Mistakes at work aren't the end of the world. But, what about the really big mistakes? The ones that follow you from job to job?

We’ve all made professional mistakes. From misquoting a project, to blowing a new client pitch; you've made a professional mistake or two. While you certainly don't hope to screw up at work, a mistake here or there is no big deal. But, what about the big mistakes?

You know the ones. Taking the wrong job, settling for less money than you deserve or simply becoming complacent in your career.

Mistakes like these are major and can have a lasting impact on your overall career trajectory and income potential.

Last year, our Founder, Jeanna McGinnis, wrote about career mistakes she has made; and today I thought I'd piggy back on her post and dive in a little deeper.

Remember, just because these mistakes are common, doesn’t mean making them yourself is a right of passage. Be mindful of each step you take along your professional path and adjust on the fly when needed. Hopefully today's post can save you from some heartache and help you step over a few train wrecks along your professional journey!

Accepting Less Money Than You Deserve

Salary negotiations during a job offer can be dicey. Push too hard and your offer may be rescinded. Push too little, and you leave money on the table. How should you balance it?

Negotiating a salary isn’t just about asking for more money. And, I don’t recommend that you negotiate a job offer or promotion from a place littered with unrealistic expectations, but it's important for you know what’s fair.

To be successful in your quest, you need to understand market expectations, cost of living (especially if you’re relocating) and your value proposition as a candidate.

Asking for a six figure base because your friend who does the same job claims they are making $125k doesn’t fly. Do your homework, understand what someone at your career level should anticipate from an offer and stand firm.

If the idea of standing your ground during a salary negotiation sounds scary, the outcome when you break and accept a low ball offer is worse.

If you don’t pursue the compensation you are worth, you’ll be setting yourself behind your peers and the market; ultimately making a major career mistake.

When you accept a salary below market value, you’ll not only make less than your peers, but your marketability as a candidate will become less attractive. When you’re making $10k less than similar candidates in your field, it sends a red flag to recruiters and hiring managers.

So, whether you're looking at an internal career move or a new job externally, chase the compensation you deserve. Just remain realistic and fair. Don’t ruin the chance to land a great job because you’re asking for the moon!

Getting Too Comfortable

Your career should be challenging and rewarding. Taco Tuesday and a free latte bar are awesome perks, but awesome perks aren't why you went to college.

Instead of listening to your friends brag about their awesome freebies at work and fuming jealously, focus on what you want out of your career and pursue those things. If you can learn, grow and accomplish your professional goals at one organization – awesome. If not, keep your ear to the ground and find a job with a company where upward growth is a reality.

I'm not advocating that you changes jobs every time you feel the slightest twinge of unhappiness.  But, you need to continually look for growth opportunities outside your current employers walls.

When you remain stagnant with one company, you decrease your ability to grow, learn and expand professionally. Your compensation will suffer, and once again, so will your marketability.

Don’t settle for a job or career path because it’s comfortable. Push yourself outside your comfort zone and you’ll increase your career opportunities in the short and long-term.

Taking A Job You Really Don’t Want

So you’re desperate. You hate your current boss, you’ve been laid off or you just hate job searching. Whatever your reason, never, never, never take a job you know isn't a fit because you’re desperate!

If you’re sitting there saying “Whatever Andrea, I have bills to pay!” I get it. I know sometimes you have to make hard decisions because you have no choice. But, you do have options. Hold out until the right role presents itself!

Taking a job you really don’t want only leads to future misery and a career setback. Each move you make as a professional should lead to a next step, better earning potential and increased challenge. Simply taking a job because it lands in your lap is a bad idea. If you need help targeting the right roles, check out our job search coaching service, but do not simply roll over and take a job that isn’t a fit!

Waiting For Challenge To Find You

If part of your plan for professional development includes waiting for the right career opportunity to land in your lap, you’ll be waiting for a very long time!

Your career shouldn’t be treated as a static event. It’s a living, breathing lifeform that needs your attention. Keep your ear to the ground, stay plugged into companies you admire and watch for new opportunities to pop up. When they do, actively pursue those roles that will get you to the next level in your career.

Simply waiting for a recruiter to call you, or your boss to promote you, isn't actionable career path planning. If you need help getting a career plan and action plan built that's easy to manage, we can certainly help you out. It’s not as daunting as it seems and your long-term growth is important.

Job Hopping Like A Rabbit Or No

Job hopping doesn’t have the same negative stigma it once did. So hop away grasshopper – just don’t overdo it!

Job hopping is a great way to quickly increase your salary and overall base of knowledge, that is, until you cross that invisible line. You know the line. That sneaky one that makes you look crazy, unstable and inexperienced - skilled at a little bit of everything and a master of nothing.

Keep in mind that job hopping should be embraced when the opportunity you’re moving to takes you closer to your dream job. However, when possible, cool your jets and settle down in a role for at least a year – 2 or 3 years is even better!

By settling down for a while, you'll learn new skills and show potential hiring managers that you don’t run from challenge, you're dedicated and you're someone worth investing training and onboarding time and money into!

Hopefully all of this helps you and provides clarity to your short and long term career goals. Again, if you’re struggling and need help reach out to us. Our team of Industry Certified Career Coaches have a wealth of experience in professional development Covering over 50 industries and fields for nearly two decades, we’re great at helping you wipe away the confusion and mystery of career progression and professional growth!  If 1:1 coaching isn't your thing and you're going to sit down and do some planning yourself, remember to be patient, honest with yourself and confident – oh, and always reach for the stars! – Andrea

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About The Author

Andrea is crazy about running and is a member of our Accounting and Finance resume writing and career coaching team. She has worked within the accounting and finance industry for nearly 12 years and is dedicated to helping you do more than count the beans! If you’d like to simplify your career, follow Andrea and the rest of our team on Twitter and LinkedIn to get updates on careers, job search and resume best practices!