THE BLOG
14/02/2018 12:14 SAST | Updated 14/02/2018 12:14 SAST

7 Career-Limiting Mistakes You Want to Avoid

How to maximise your career prospects, now that times have changed and old notions of job security need an overhaul.

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I see a lot of people at various stages in their careers: some at crossroads, some in difficult times, and others simply planning ahead. Many are doing a lot of things right. But I've also seen a lot of career mistakes. I decided to share a few of the common themes I've noticed, along with a bit of guidance.

1. Outdated thinking about career security

Who doesn't want to feel more secure in their job and career? And while there is much you can do to protect and maximise your own career prospects, times have changed and old notions of job security need an overhaul. Today, you need to think in terms of "gig' (even if you have a full-time job) and constantly stay on your "career/change-ready toes".

Much more on this in these two articles: Career Security in the Gig Economy, and Take the Quiz, to assess if you are ready for the innovation (and gig) economy.

2. Complacency

If you've been coasting for too long now, two words for you: wake up! Career complacency is bad for your health – professionally and personally. Stagnation puts your career at risk. And aren't you a bit bored yet? You need not have aspirations for a huge vertical career trajectory (i.e. not everyone wants a promotion or aspires to be in a leadership role), but it's always a good idea to develop yourself in some way, shape, or form. Get a goal, learn a new skill or three, connect and get out there. Do some or all of this, and you'll be safer career-wise – happier and healthier, too.

3. Risk aversion

A good measure of prudence can be wise, but too much? Not wise. Insisting on certainty at the expense of taking some healthy risks can derail your career over the longer haul. Overinvesting in the illusion of safety can actually hold you back from taking stretch assignments and new opportunities to grow and build upon your career experience.

Nothing is guaranteed, and indeed sometimes a decision may not work out for the better. But this need not derail your entire career. Read this: When Nothing is Wasted, Everything Has Purpose.

Successful careerists know health networking is a year-round, career-long necessity.

4. Networking blues

I talk to a lot of people who have an aversion to networking. Sound like you? If it feels "icky" (as many people have described it), chances are you may not have learned how to connect authentically, purposefully and reciprocally.

Avoid networking at your own peril. Get more comfortable with learning how to connect authentically, and since this is a skill for life, make it a high priority and not just for when you need a job. Successful careerists know healthy networking is a year-round, career-long necessity.

5. Blind to your own superpowers and accomplishments

Most people are so busy getting stuff done, they lose sight of the miracles they perform every day in large and small part. They fail to recognise their own strengths, abilities and talents. As a result, when it comes time to speak to their worth and value, they sometimes sell themselves short — even to themselves.

Some people are simply modest – but when it comes to careers, that can be to their detriment. They need to get better at conveying their value. You need to be your own brand-marketing officer for you! Make this the year you learn and/or rediscover your unique strengths, abilities, success stories – and how to convey all this with confidence without feeling like a braggart.

6. Stuck in limiting beliefs of shame

Sometimes people feel embarrassed about being retrenched and/or not yet having landed a new job. This feeling of shame holds them back from reaching out (network, recruiters, etc.) and leaning into their job search.

My first bit of advice: stop that (train of thought)! This is a self-limiting belief that does nothing good. Retrenchments happen. Companies change. And even if you were let go because of poor fit – so what? It happens to many incredibly successful people. Move on. Your self-limiting thoughts can become your biggest obstacle. If you haven't seen this article yet, read this: Why You Might Want to Zig Zag in Your Career.

Staying still and doing nothing will only dig you deeper into the hole of self-doubt and inertia.

7. Procrastination

You know better, and yet you're still not taking action. There are lots of reasons why people procrastinate when they want or need to make a career change: they are overwhelmed, uncertain how to navigate the way forward, they feel daunted, lack confidence, and more.

Staying still and doing nothing will only dig you deeper into the hole of self-doubt and inertia. The most important steps to take are the first ones – and tiny ones work just fine.Hop onto this helpful postTINY is the new BIG — to set goals and beat procrastination.

Eileen Chadnick is a certified coach specialising in career, executive and leadership development.