People sabotage their careers in a variety of ways every day. Some are obvious: not delivering on deadlines, drinking too much at the company Christmas party, harassing an intern, etc. Others are less so, and may even seem like good ideas.
Here five more subtle ways you may unintentionally be taking your career off the fast track.
1. Riding Your Boss’ Coattails
It’s fantastic when you get along with your boss. If you can develop a friendship and mentoring relationship, it’s ideal. You deliver great work, the boss get a promotion or an entirely new position and might bring you along also. It sounds great.
The problem arises when you align yourself so closely with her that you’re seen as boosting her and fail to stand on your own, says Karin Hurt, executive director at a Fortune 15 telecom company. “Your identity will become enveloped within your more powerful, great boss. If her career derails, so will yours. Also, the best leadership growth comes from working with a variety of leaders.”
Hurt recommends not following a boss to more than one additional position and instead continuing to maintain a friendship and possible mentoring situation outside of work.
2. Not Marketing Yourself
Few people want to be seen as boastful or a shameless self-promoter. Instead of trying to find the right amount of personal branding and promotion, some people just give up entirely and never market themselves.
“A bit of promotion and an eye toward developing your brand will help you stand out among your peers,” says Julia Angelen Joy, founder of Z Group PR. “Whether we like it or not, people will form opinions of us. It makes sense in the professional arena to put some thought into what we produce and project in order to improve those opinions.”
3. Always Going Solo
Even if you can do your job all by yourself, it’s a good idea to engange in teamwork with others and collaborate from time to time. “The person who does everything alone -- even if done well -- has no one to rely on when things get tough. Or lonely. Or slow,” explains Cheryl Rich Heisler, founder of Lawternatives, a career transition consultancy for legal professionals.
“If you never need the team, there is a pretty good chance that the team may not realize how much they need you, and you may be too easily forgotten when the winds change,” she explains.
4. Choosing the Wrong Career
If you choose a career you aren’t passionate about, you will be unhappy and your negative attitude will show through, says Brian Penny, writer and former operations manager for a major financial firm. Every day will feel hard, which will lead you to believe you’re working hard -- even if you aren’t.
“You'll walk around feeling entitled to promotions and raises you never get..the business world isn't school, and you don't automatically move to the next grade each year,” he says. Instead, find a career you’re passionate about so those long days will be fulfilling and lead to a positive attitude and career growth.
5. Not Preparing for Your Annual Review
Your annual review is a great time to remind your boss of all the fantastic work you’ve done over the year. Chances are, your boss oversees several employees and he can’t be expected to remember every project you worked on over the course of the year. And if he forgets some of the great work you did, it won’t be factored in to raise or promotion consideration, says professional development coach Martha Monaco.
She recommends keeping an ongoing folder of your achievements where you “note the benefits to the organization, department, etc. -- if the work resulted in a cost saving, know what that number is, so when it's time for your review you have the documentation to support the raise or promotion.”
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