6 Career Missteps to Avoid in 2014

Don't derail your career with these mistakes.


New year, new you in the office? Well, maybe … if you can avoid key career killers that derail many professionals.

As January draws to a close, you're probably clear about what resolutions you hope to achieve this year. But it's just as important to know what to dodge if you want to have the best chance for success.

Based on an informal poll of job experts, here are six career missteps to avoid in 2014 when it comes to office culture, technology and other current trends:

Misstep 1: Forgetting that everyone has a smartphone.

"There are various time-honored mishaps like, be careful with workplace romance, don't drink too much at office parties, and don't burn bridges when you leave. While I think those are still important challenges to remember, all of the above items are more challenging in a world where we all have smartphones that can take pictures, audio, and video and post that media in minutes. Things that we do that used to be office rumors can now be confirmed through video and haunt our careers forever."

–Calvin Harris Jr., accountant and president of change management, Harvin Consulting

Misstep 2: Being disrespectful to diversity.

"It is no longer acceptable to disregard the diversity we value in our companies today, whether generational, gender, geographic, cultural, religious, etc. Major career missteps occur between the four generations in our workplace today, our globally diverse and often matrixed organizations, or gender differences in work style. Examples of behaviors that have hurt careers: Calling meetings on Saturdays, which is a day of rest for many cultures. Or excluding certain people from important business conversations because of their geographic location or need to work from home on a given day."

–Dana Manciagli, speaker, consultant and author of "Cut the Crap and Get a Job"

Misstep 3. Not understanding LinkedIn.

"Notifying your LinkedIn connections (in real time) when you've made profile updates can damage your career and should be avoided. Updating your profile is fine of course, but enabling LinkedIn to share the fact that you've made updates can be a problem. Your LinkedIn network, including anyone you currently work with, knows that updating your LinkedIn profile means that you're laying the groundwork to look for a new job. Any promotions or new responsibilities that were coming your way are likely to be diverted toward someone else who's planning to stick around."

–Joseph Terach, CEO, Resume Deli

Misstep 4: Failing to clean up your social media.

"Savvy employees will self-edit derogatory posts about employers, co-workers and customers. Although employees have protections under the National Labor Relations Act, employers may still be able to end the employment relationship for some social media posts. Many companies include a policy about what is and isn't allowed in their employee handbooks. Employees should familiarize themselves with the organization's guidelines for technology and social media usage. It's also important for those looking for new opportunities to clean up any workplace unfriendly profile photos, posts, etc., before looking for a new job. More and more hiring managers are Googling candidates' names in order to find out some intel before an actual interview takes place."

–Amanda Haddaway, author of "Destination Real World: Success after Graduation" and "Interviewer Success: Become a Great Interviewer in Less Than One Hour"

Misstep 5: Being negative.

"Avoid speaking negatively about anyone/anything related to the business. Almost anyone can tell a horror story about how bad their boss is, or how the company screwed something up, etc. You might think that's just stating the truth, but you never know who might see that truth differently. And you never know who is listening to your griping and may report it up the chain. Best to always stay as positive as you can, look on the bright side, look for the silver lining in a difficult situation. I'm not saying 'Be a Polly Anna,' where everything and everyone is perfect. But in general, people like people who are positive and upbeat even about serious things; positive people get promoted."

–Gregg Ward, president and CEO, Orlando-Ward & Associates, Inc.

Misstep 6. Failing to think critically.

"Based on our interaction with HR directors throughout the country, the trainings we offer, and the insights we gain from our coaching, we're hearing more and more concern from HR directors about the lack of critical thinking and communication skills. As 2014 begins, I'd recommend making it a practice to look critically at the work that you're doing and new situations that arise. Make it a point to analyze the rote tasks to determine if that's the best method. Pause and consider how you could create a better product, system, or interaction with a client. Be more consistent about evaluating the work that you're doing and use of your time. Make this the year that you kick 'That's the way we've always done it' to the curb."

–Brian Brandt, CEO, Core Insights 

Robin Madell has spent over two decades as a corporate writer, business journalist, literary agent, and author on business, leadership, career, health, finance, technology, and public-interest issues. She serves as a speechwriter, ghostwriter, and communications consultant for executives and entrepreneurs across diverse industries. Robin has interviewed more than 200 thought leaders around the globe, and has won 20 awards for editorial excellence. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association in both New York and San Francisco, and contributed to the book Be Your Own Mentor: Strategies from Top Women on the Secrets of Success, published by Random House. Robin is also the author of Surviving Your Thirties: Americans Talk About Life After 30 and co-author of The Strong Principles: Career Success. You can reach her at robin.madell@gmail.com.


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