Career Mistakes to Avoid

Practical thinking to help you avoid pitfalls


In case you haven’t noticed, here at 40+Change we are big advocates of keeping your career options open. In the past few months, we’ve written articles about how to prepare for a sudden job change, how to keep your skill set fresh , and why you need to take charge of your own professional development . The message is simple: Don’t get too comfortable at your job because you never know when things will change.

But don’t take our word. Last year, Forbes posted at article identifying The Worst Career Mistake You can Make  According to the article: “The worst career mistake you can make is to put your faith in any employer, function or industry.”

We can look at the generation before us and see people who were with their companies for 20 or 30 years. They had job security, steady promotions and many retired with dependable pensions. That doesn’t happen so much these days. The chances of working for the same company your whole career all the while receiving meaningful promotions and substantial pay increases along with the promise of a steady income upon retirement is a dream.

Some of the things that Forbes suggest you do to avoid that big mistake are:

  1. Make a plan for yourself. “What do you want from the rest of your working life? How far will your current job take you?”
  2. Where do you see yourself one year, five years and ten years from now?
  3. (My personal favorite) “If you stay at your current job for another year, what will you be able to put on your resume a year from now that isn’t on your resume already?”

The article makes several other points designed at forcing you think outside of your current cubicle, but point 3 above hit me hard. I work at the type of job where getting promoted is not a necessity. I can easily stay in the same position I am in, continue to do the same “good” work, year after year and get okay raises. This would make my company very happy because I’m pretty good at what I do. This is horrible for me because I’m not growing. I won’t have twenty years of experience, I’ll have 5 years of experience repeated over and over again. I have to look for new challenges, I have to ask for more work, I have to work on my professional development outside of office hours.

Don’t let the 10 or 15 years of experience you have right now lull you into a false sense of security. Don’t get complacent because you have a fancy title or a nice office. And don’t think about trying to ride anything out until retirement. Technology changes. Business models change. Companies get bought and sold everyday. Get ready for things to change, because they will.

Written by Myrtis Smith

African American. Female. Christian. Sometimes-Vegetarian.

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend.

Writer. Teacher. Zumba Enthusiast.