Five Career Killer Moves

This post was written by Marie.  

As a hiring (and firing) manager for a mid-cap financial services company I saw plenty of ways otherwise competent people messed up their career chances for advance.

Here are five of my favorites.

Resist Change

Change happens all the time and most of the time people don’t welcome it with open arms. Some people are downright resistant to it. Employees can easily step over the line in trying to hang on to the old instead of embracing the new.

When change happens, shrug it off, whine about it at home (not the office) and then look around for ways to work it and make it work for you and your company.

Practice Poor Hygiene

It takes a lot of time and effort to actually fire someone. The firing manager must show that he or she tried to work with the employee to help them learn to do their job. Documentation of continuing bad performance is required before most Human Resources departments will risk a lawsuit from a fired associate.

Before a manager ever reaches that point, though, there have to be a number of aggravation points. If you have body odor, bad breath, or an unkempt and filthy workspace, a manager is more likely to start looking closely at your work performance.

Keep yourself and your work area in good order and clean – don’t let unfortunate hygiene derail you, be known for your great traits instead!

Don’t stay up to date in your field

As a manager, I can’t tell you the number of times an employee was passed over for a promotion, a juicy work assignment, a career maker transfer or even a bigger percentage raise because they didn’t stay on top of their field. Not only does it make an employee a poorer technical risk, it also shows an appalling lack of initiative.

An employee who demonstrates, in words, thought and action, that they understand and can apply the latest developments related to the work at hand will be viewed as an up and coming talent and thought of when new opportunities arise. New opportunities lead to career advancement.

Shop, run your other business and social network during office hours

If you think you are fooling your manager by clicking away from the Amazon screen when she walks by, think again. If you are working on your side business, visiting social networking sites or responding to non-work emails during work hours, your work performance will suffer and your manager WILL notice. You will not be in the queue to move up in your chosen career field and you may be called in to the office for that dreaded ‘performance’ conversation.

Focus on the work at hand, give good value to your employer for your wages. Find ways to advance the business of your employer and to hook your fortunes to theirs. Take on the commission work, the extra pay for extra work, tackle and do the impossible tasks.

Spend hours ‘networking’ with your co-workers

If you spend hours gossiping, playing cards over extended lunch hours in the break room, or sitting in other people’s cubes wasting their time with non-work related conversation, you are not networking – you are wasting time and not doing what you are being paid to do.

Yes, networking is important. You do need to get your name out there in the company to learn about and take advantage of opportunities around the company. Do it right though. Become an expert on something important to the company or your division. Be an active and intelligent contributor on projects or in meetings. Invite folks to lunch or go out after work if you want to spend personal time getting to know their non-work sides.

Your employer is paying big bucks for you to do the job they need done. They pay salary, vacation, sick leave, worker’s compensation, insurance, social securityand medicare. Even if you consider yourself to be underpaid, I guarantee your employer doesn’t! Give value, show your worth and you will move right on ahead in your company.

What other killer moves have you seen from your co-workers or employees? What should they have done instead?


Five Career Killer Moves — 18 Comments

  1. How many people will read this post while at work? lol

    All of these tips are why I’m fighting vigorously to get my business off the ground. I feel more like I’m doing time at work to fund my dreams. Don’t get me wrong I haven’t been passed up for any promotions and make 6 figures but I will be giving it up for much less money once I complete a few more steps to make the full transition into self employment.

    Nothing is more motivating for me than to see the wall of pictures of employees with 20 years+ with the company. Some may think wow what a great place with so many long term people but all I think is where did these people go wrong that they are still here and answering to a “boss”.

    • Aaron – the way I looked at it when I was working is that my time was the companies since they were paying for it. So, if I had a slow day, I tried to look around to see what I might do or learn to make the next busy day more productive.

  2. One other thing that can be a “career killer” is not following through or taking responsibility for fixing things that you’ve noticed are an issue. You know, the “not my job” syndrome. You work there, it IS your job! Or at least that’s my philosophy…

  3. I’ve also found it’s important to be a team player. Once you get a reputation as anything other than a team player, it’s hard to earn back the respect.

  4. Great list. I’d add to that bitching about work to peers and colleagues, who are on the same ‘level’ as you at work. Even if it’s simply awful and frankly everyone thinks the same, bitching about it makes you look negative and people will start to question your attitude and outlook.

    • Good point Harri, but I think you do have to entertain a certain amount of criticism – otherwise you can come off as the company yes man jerk. You just have to be able to acknowledge what you are hearing and somehow deflect it. People will always complain and as you rightly point out, you don’t have to be one of them, but you do need to deal with other people’s complaints somehow.

  5. Complaining about your boss. I worked for a guy who complained about the upper boss –how “stupid” he was. However about six months later the department was closing. I got a job elsewhere and knew that there was a job opening at the same level as my old boss. I wouldn’t contact him…I would always worry that he would talk about me next.

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