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.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.