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Monthly Archives: July 2012

“5 Things You Could Be Doing to Hurt Your Career”

There are times in our lives when we feel like things happen to us. But the reality is we happen to those things. In the workplace, as in life, many times we can owe our success—or lack thereof—to our own attitudes and actions.

By shifting our attitudes, we can improve our behaviors; and as a result, perk up our careers. Here are five ways you may be hurting your career, plus suggestions for improving the situation:

1. You’re rude. While it’s easy for most to be gracious when our careers sail along smoothly, rough waters can sink a generous attitude quickly. This is not, however, a good enough excuse for insolence. Whether disappointed by an unresponsive recruiter, angry that your last interview fell short of an offer, or upset you were passed over for a promotion, rein in your ire. Resist venting through rude emails, voice mails, or other irreversible actions. Also, be cognizant of how passive-aggressive action—not showing up for appointments or conveniently forgetting to perform a promised follow-up—can radiate as rude.

Step up during bad times by being gracious for what is going well in your life and paving a new path toward happiness. Weed out the naysayers and Negative Nellies and surround yourself with encouraging, positive people. Take the reins of your life or fake it until you feel it and soon you will cultivate a genuinely renewed sense of optimism.

2. You pawn off the hard work. Whether aspiring to the next level at your current job, or seeking that next big gig at another company, the onus ultimately is on YOU to make it happen. No one else: not your boss, not your co-worker, not the resume writer or career coach you hired and certainly not your husband/wife/best friend can perform your heavy lifting. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek help (you should—none of us lives in a vacuum); what it does mean is that you can’t outsource the hard stuff, especially the thinking, planning, and execution. You may hire someone to perform parts and bits of your career transition strategy, but ultimately you must expect to sweat intellectually to build the career muscle you desire.

3. You don’t track your achievements. If you’re gainfully employed, you’re accomplishing something; otherwise, your company could not justify your salary. When tracking accomplishments, answer the question, “What do you do that affects sales or profits?” Even if you’re a chief bottle washer, you are cleaning a certain number of bottles in a way that efficiently prepares them for the next customer, and without customers, your company wouldn’t generate revenue, which means your company can’t pay you, and you wouldn’t have a job.

You get the drift. If you don’t track your contributions, then you can’t build a good resume that will sell you to a new employer (proving that you EARN your salary). While this example may seem simplistic, the message here is you must make the effort to know how what you do affects the bigger picture. Insisting that you don’t have any real accomplishments is an attitude that will leave your career languishing.

4. Your social media persona is a sad country song. Every tweet is a complaint. Every Facebook post is a tirade or a tear-stained commentary regarding your last breakup. Every LinkedIn update is a solicitation for a job. You don’t interact with others. You neglect commenting on others’ posts or cheering someone else on. You’re not only negative, but you’re all about you. If this describes you, then consider revamping your social networking strategy. Social media is just that: social. You must interact, you must be relatively positive and you must add value. Period.

5. You don’t say, “thank you.” Whether following up on an interview or showing appreciation for the free advice that a friend, family member, mentor, recruiter, career consultant, etc., gave you, always, ALWAYS say, “thank you.” Here’s a little secret, the more appreciative you are, the more likely those helpful people will recall your name when your perfect career match crosses their path. EVERYONE has a Rolodex, but few are willing to crack them open for ungrateful people. If you are currently stuck in an entitlement mentality that prevents you from displaying gratitude, you may want to reconsider your approach. As a result, you may be pleasantly surprised at the uplifting impact on your career.

While there are no magic bullets to career success, one thing is certain, consistently behaving badly is a magic bullet that will disable your career. The likelihood of sailing into your next career port improves greatly by avoiding these five behaviors and turning negativity into positive and forward momentum.


Quotes - Abraham Lincoln

Quote of the day: “That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.” -Abraham Lincoln


The consulting and contracting world is inherently isolated.  You’re out on your own, finding new clients, surmounting new problems.  In a traditional work environment, we are surrounded by other professionals who provide advice, examples and a support network.  While they also provide competition, those around you can be a great resource when you’ve hit a wall in a project.  Especially the sagacious advice of one who has been in your field much longer than yourself.  These mentors can help you navigate office politics as well as provide insight in tough business situations.

The contractor and consulting world is full of opportunities to develop such relationships.  In fact, they are more important in the independent employment world.  Mentors help guide you toward projects that will further your career and strategies that will help develop your work skills.  It’s equally important, as you develop in your career, that you allow yourself to be a resource to others.

Being Mentored

Be Humble:  It requires a measure of humility to allow yourself to be mentored.  Admitting that you aren’t experienced enough to handle every situation that comes your way, or recognizing that you could use a second opinion is something that many aren’t ready to do.  Once you get beyond that stigma, you are guaranteed to benefit from having a good mentor.

Reach Out:  While sometimes a mentoring relationship develops organically, other times it requires something of a cold-call process.  You can attempt to develop that relationship organically by simply send queries and career questions to someone else in your industry whom you respect.  Otherwise, it can be beneficial to simply state your desire directly:  I’m looking for someone to provide some advice as I start up in this field.  What you’ll find is that – rather than seeing competition – most people will see potential to help someone grow.

Absorb Wisely:  Sponges have one major issue in that they absorb indiscriminately.  Your new mentor will be helpful and you would be wise to keep your eyes and ears open to any advice that comes your way.  However, you should also take everything with a skeptical eye, if it doesn’t seem to make sense, perhaps it does not.  Test each hypothesis in your mind before blindly pursuing it.  Weigh your mentor’s opinion heavily, but don’t follow it religiously.

Mentoring

Be Open:  Mentoring someone doesn’t take huge amounts of time.  Yes, you are working for free on some level, but you are helping someone else achieve their goals.  It’s hard to put a quote on that, isn’t it?  I’d err on the side of accepting rather than rejecting.  Of course, you can’t take it on as a full time position, so keep your reigns tight as your time tightens.

Be the Well:  You are the well of experience that someone has come to draw from.  Accept that your anecdotes and advice – though you may sometimes feel they are insufficient – are precisely what you’re there for.  Even as some projects or events fall outside of your experience, your general aptitude and intelligence will provide sound advice for whoever comes seeking it.

Reap the Rewards:  While you wont be paid, mentoring someone does have it’s rewards.  Friendship, first and foremost, is difficult to avoid in this scenario.  Also, you may be called upon for projects beyond the person’s capacity.  You expand your network and develop a list of people who owe you on some level.  You develop a reputation as well, as an individual of intelligence and merit.  That kind of personal investment is never truly forgotten and down the road may come back to pay you many times over.

Despite the lone-wolf mentality of the independent workforce, there is strength to be found in numbers.  When we are starting, we must draw from people of experience.  When we are experienced, we must give back into the pool from which all future work will be developed.  It’s a cycle which benefits everyone