Student's Corner

Seven career mistakes you should avoid

sevenWhether you’ve snagged your first job or shifted to a new one recently, you need to follow work etiquette. For, a wrong word or a shoddy presentation may be akin to committing career hara-kiri. Here are the habits, attitudes and behaviour patterns that are a strict no-no at the workplace.

I don’t need to be punctual

Timing is essential. You’re a professional now and a ‘sorry, my brother spilt milk over my homework’ excuse isn’t going to work. Your assignment should be finished before the deadline, with enough time to spare, so that you can polish it. Unlike college, a ‘C’ grade-even once-does matter. If you disappoint your seniors, getting another chance is going to be tough. If your office doesn’t run on a 9-to-5 schedule, ensure that you have a fixed time for coming in and leaving, so that your colleagues can rely on you to be available during those hours.

I want everything, now

Instant gratification may be your buzzword, but it’s not going to work at office. You cannot accumulate five years worth of experience in one year, nor can you get the hefty salaries your senior colleagues do. You will only get what your employers believe you’re worth. “A mistake often made by freshers is that they run after high-paying jobs. In the initial stages, don’t mix career and money.

Your priority should be the job profile based on your capabilities, which will help you polish your skills and grow. Once you’re established, the money will come,” says Nidhi Gaur, head, HR, Wiley India. Just putting in your best may not be enough. Your efforts will also have to be fruitful. “If you expect more compensation, remember that the worth of the individual should increase along with the cost,” says Sunil Goel, CEO, GlobalHunt, an HR company.

This is all I’m going to do

If you stick rigidly to your job description, you may miss out on opportunities to be noticed. Take up tasks beyond the routine ones, especially those that can demonstrate your untapped talents. This also proves that you’re willing to take initiative.

If you are new, you may get saddled with jobs that others don’t want or hours nobody else is willing to put in. If you grumble at being given extra work, it may put off your superiors. “Accept projects on the basis of where you want to be after three years. If you want to replace your boss, you will have to work more than you would to justify your salary,” says Satya Narayanan, founder, Career Launcher.

I’m the only one who made it a success

No man is an island, especially not in crowded cubicles. In an office, you need to work as a team. If you do well, give credit where it’s due, especially to your juniors. Even if you don’t get along with someone, be polite. There’s no place for anger or tantrums at the workplace. Remember, your electronic mails are being sent through your employer’s server, so bad-mouthing someone on mail or chats in the office could lead to an embarrassing fiasco. Don’t crib about your colleagues’ work profile or the fact that they are favoured. Your talent cannot remain hidden for long; neither can other people’s incompetency. You’ll look like a fool if your own work falls short of the mark.

What’s a network?

You may be a genius, but there will be times when you hit a roadblock. This is when your network of peers will come to your rescue as you can take their advice. It also helps you stay abreast of the latest issues in your field. Keep in touch with college mates, mingle during conferences and functions, and join a professional networking site.

However, ensure that you don’t mix personal and professional lives. Avoid adding colleagues and bosses to your friends’ list on social networking sites. Even if you don’t post an inappropriate message about your workplace, there’s no way of ensuring that your friends won’t.

I know everything there is to know

No job is secure forever. The business landscape is changing constantly and if you don’t want to be a dinosaur, you’ll have to upgrade your skills regularly. You need to stay on a par with colleagues and others vying for your job. Don’t expect past accomplishments to suffice. Learn constantly, especially from your mistakes. If a senior corrects you, don’t sulk or complain. You’ll not only exasperate your boss, but end up repeating your mistake and never learn.

I’m the best, I’m irreplaceable, and I deserve that promotion

If you believe you are the only one who can do the job right, back your conviction with accomplishments. There’s a difference between boasting and delivering. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t promote yourself, but do it subtly. Before you jump at the chance to be promoted, ask yourself: am I prepared for it?

A promotion not only means more professional responsibilities, but also changes in personal life. Make sure you are ready to shoulder these.

If you aren’t, the step may backfire and destroy chances of future promotions. Don’t promise to get something done without ensuring that it is achievable. “In the early stages of your career, there are more options as there are more jobs, but these reduce as you move up.

At a senior position, you need to be stable in a job for 2-3 years and learn everything about the company before you opt for a promotion. Jumping too soon may set your career back by 4-5 years,” says VY Verma, COO, LG India.

Posted On: Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Namrata Dadwal | ET Bureau