Ways to Sabotage Your Career

by Marcianne Kuethen
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Every so often, we get a candidate or new hire who must be authoring a book, “Ways to Sabotage Your Career.” Most candidates are hardworking and competitive, and really want to succeed in their job or in getting the job offer. But sometimes, for inexplicable reasons, a candidate will make a choice that ends up damaging his or her career. Here are a few true stories that illustrate this concept. (Names and details have been changed to protect anonymity.) Perhaps you can learn from their career mistakes!

Be everyone’s best friend and no one’s manager.

Marty looked like a great managerial candidate when we placed him at XYZ Company. But right away, his team’s production numbers were under par, causing his boss to watch him closely. By the end of week three, production was still down, and his boss had discovered why: Marty was so concerned with being everyone’s friend, especially his direct reports, that when they’d wanted to go home early on Fridays, he had let them. Failing to hold them accountable for their performance cost Marty his job.

Undercommunicate your first week on the job.

Raylynn looked like a promising employee. Her first two days, she showed up and underwent training as a new employee should. The third day, however, she left abruptly in the middle of the morning with her company laptop, claiming she needed to go home to get something and that she needed the laptop for her training. After a couple of hours had passed, her employer called and left a message asking if she was okay. Eventually, Raylynn texted back saying she’d run out of gas. After the office had closed–and after she’d declined to answer another string of her boss’s texts–she finally texted to say that she had run out of gas again and it had been a crazy day.

“At that point,” says her employer, “we had to terminate her. She failed to communicate. Had she told me she was short on cash or explained her absence, I would’ve helped her, but at this point, I couldn’t keep her.”

“She never returned the laptop either,” added the employer. “We learned our lesson. No one takes their laptop home anymore.”

Increase your salary demands after you get a job offer.

Our recruiter was pleased to present a bright, competent candidate, Garrett to Carl, our manufacturing client, for a middle management position. Garrett’s asking salary was at the top of Carl’s range, but after two interviews, Carl could see Garrett as a real contributor to his organization. Our recruiter called Garrett to announce that Carl would be making the offer.

Garrett sounded excited to be working with Carl. But to the recruiter’s surprise, Garrett increased his salary expectation by 26%, stating a much higher number than had previously been discussed. Puzzled, our recruiter promised to pass on the request to Carl, which he did. Carl felt bait-and-switched, as one can imagine. Whatever trust and rapport had been established was instantly erased. Carl told the recruiter to end the process with Garrett, and they moved on to the next solid candidate.

Ways to sabotage your career

We’ve encountered a lot more ways to sabotage your career. You could strongly disagree with your boss over his idea for how to improve employees’ poor performance. You could lie about your own recent poor performance, or make fun of your boss behind her back (oops, there she is!). You could blame someone else for his failure to do your job. You could let your frustration build up and quit your job without trying to work out the issue with your manager. You might even settle for a job that’s just okay and resent every hour it consumes of your life.

Liz Ryan, HR expert and contributor to Forbes, lists five common career mistakes (i.e., ways to sabotage your career) people make. See what you think:

  1. Burning a bridge
  2. Letting someone else make career decisions for you
  3. Putting your career ahead of your life
  4. Getting mad at reality
  5. Falling asleep on your career

Find a job you really like

Building your career takes time–and intention. Here at Amtec, our recruiters try their best to help companies build high-performing teams, not by selecting just anyone who can do the job. As a staffing agency, our goal is to help people find meaningful work. We want our job seekers to find work they love to do, which means every job you take should lead you closer to your career goals. Your recruiter should make sure that you’re a good fit for the job in competence, character, and culture. After all, you spend the majority of your waking hours at work.

Have you made a career mistake? Acknowledge and repair it if you can. (Read Ryan’s post for ideas.) If you can’t, move on, learn from your mistake, and make a wiser decision the next time. Either way, be the best employee you know how to be, and enjoy your job. Life is too short to waste it finding ways to sabotage your career!

Based in Southern California’s Inland Empire, Amtec actively serves customers all over the United States who seek top professionals with well-rounded skills. If we don’t have the most current version of your resume, please click here to post it, and visit our job board while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions.

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