5 career mistakes that could be holding you back

Building a career isn’t easy. It takes hard work, dedication and clear focus to have a truly successful career.

Tue, April 1st, 14:31


The problem is, few of us seek career guidance after we secure our first job. Instead, we think, ‘now that I have a job, I’ll work my way up’, without ever applying any further strategy.

If you approach anything with that kind of planning, you are bound to make mistakes, and most of us do make an error or two along the way. There are some common mistakes that you need to avoid to build a successful career.

No long-term goal
A good way to define tasks you should and shouldn’t take on is to think about long-term goals. Define an ultimate career goal and stick to it. That goal should inform every decision you make, from learning and development choices to deciding when to apply for a new job.

Only thinking about your career when you change job
Every day you spend at work is a part of your career. Your ultimate career goal should be in the back of your mind with everything you do. If you want to be successful and acquire the best roles, you need to present your skills and experience in the most effective way possible. How will you do that if you only think about those factors when preparing a job application?

Moving for the wrong reasons
Whenever you do change job, make sure you do it for the right reasons. It is always a mistake to move just to get away from an existing role, or to add a new role to your CV, or acquire a slightly better salary. Those factors should be bonuses when you move, not the main motivation.

Rushing to innovate
With so much competition in the jobs market at the moment, many people are looking for new ways to sell themselves. From CVs built like an Amazon listing to video CVs, there are plenty of innovative ways to stand out. However, that doesn’t mean you should bin your CV and grab a video camera. A CV is still the quickest and easiest way for an employer to assess a candidate; it’s also the method that most employers are comfortable with. It’s still your best starting point for an application.

Ignoring your personal brand
Like it or not, you have an online brand. Your social media presence, blog posts and other online mentions of your name will inform an employer’s opinion of you and may shape your career. You need to make sure that your online brand sends the message you want it to send, you need an effective LinkedIn account, an appropriately private Facebook account and online quotes that you would be proud to broadcast across the nation. You can’t opt out either. Having no online presence can be just as damaging, if not worse, than the odd online faux pas.

The key to avoiding each of these, and any other career mistakes is strategic planning. Think about your career as a whole, plan each move in detail and be smart in your use of technology. Once you’ve got the planning right, all you need is hard work, dedication and clear focus.

Eoin Keenan

The Irish Times