1 – You think working hard is enough to get you promoted
Head down, bum up. That’s what the first few years are like in any profession. But don’t make the mistake of staying in that position. Ensure you get your head up and have a peripheral vision of what is going on around you, and that you develop your relationships on a deep level.
2 – You think being technically brilliant is all that matters.
There’s no doubt you need to continue to hone your technical skills as you progress your career. But it’s as important to ensure you hone other skills. In a 2015 study by Deloitte and researchers at Oxford University, it was found that about 35% of current jobs in the UK are at high risk of computerisation over the following 20 years.
The skills that will be in most demand going forward are certainly technical (think coding and anything technology related), however human skills not currently capable of being replicated by technology will be even more in demand (think leadership, communication, influencing and connection/networking skills).
And even now, in the current climate, it’s no longer enough to be technically brilliant. You must be able to build a team, develop clients and in some cases build a business.
It’s never too early in your career to develop those skills. But it’s often too late for many.
3 – You believe who you work for is more important than who you are
You may work for the most prestigious organisation in the world, but if no-one in there and, importantly, outside of there, knows who you are, then it’s literally just a name on the cv.
The rise of personal brand in the last 5-10 years has created a radical change to way that we recruit, and are recruited.
It is much easier to find talent online now, and increasingly the best candidates for a role are sitting back, waiting to be found. But there’s a catch. If you can’t be found, you potentially miss out.
Work on your personal brand. Make it a priority.
4 – You think more qualifications are the answer to a successful career
In some careers, more qualifications might set you apart. In some disciplines it’s generally expected if you want to progress (e.g. some specialist areas of law).
However, many people look to additional qualifications to fill a gap – not a gap in knowledge, but a gap in personal growth. Some people undertake extra qualifications as a last ditch hope that they can salvage some semblance of a “successful” career, even though in their heart they know it’s not the answer.
I am VERY pro-education, however, I am pro-education which actually helps achieve a result. It’s expensive to study at a higher level. Be clear on what the purpose of your additional study is and have a plan in place to leverage it post-completion.
5 – You get lost in emails
Yes. We all do. The answer is simple. Pick up the phone more. Go hang out in some-one’s office. Email less. Done.
6 – You don’t make time to nurture your network
See no 5, above. Email is a great tool, as is all technology, but nothing replaces the power of human connection. I’m currently reading “Social – Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect” by Matthew D. Lieberman, an exploration of how our brains are not just made for thinking, they are also made for connecting.
Your network is the key to a successful career. The people in it will support you, promote you, and carry you through the highs and lows of your career, and your life.
Take the time to nurture, develop and grow your connections, every day.
7 – You think self-promotion is “icky”
This might sound a little rude, but chances are you’ve been reading my careers advice for a while now, so I’ll just say it…Get Over It.
If you believe in yourself, your value, your service, what you have to offer, learn how to articulate it so that others also get it. It’s not icky, it’s necessary in an increasingly busy, crowded market-place.
8 – You don’t understand what problems you really solve
You must be able to articulate your client’s problem (whether that’s an internal or external client) better than they can themselves. You need to know what is keeping them awake at night (and trust me, they’re not lying awake wondering whether Clause 2 (b) (iii) of that contract will stand up in court of tested) and work out a way to provide a service/advice that fixes that problem as best you can.
9. You think a career is linear
The days of a job for life are gone. Linear progression through the ranks is still possible, but it takes infinitely longer and requires boundless energy, hard work and resilience.
Instead think of your career as a kind of assault course. Sometimes you need to climb over hurdles, other times you can run really fast, hard and straight for your target. And many times, you will be forced to find a completely new route to avoid falling in the muddy, cold water.
Accept that there is more than one way to reach the finish line, and develop the networks and skills to help you navigate the course.
10. You put your work first – always
In the emergency procedure demonstration on an airplane the stewards are very clear – fit your own mask before attempting to help others.
Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to be fighting fit. Relentless hours and stress will take its toll. Be mindful and take action to preserve your mental and physical health. Without it you have no career.
Which of these mistakes do you think you’re making? And, more importantly, what action are you going to take to fix them? I’d love to hear your thoughts so go ahead and comment below.