Career Management Mistakes: 10 Things You May Be Doing Wrong and MUST Stop Doing

Most of the time, I focus on helping job hunters find work by helping them correct mistakes they make when managing their job search. But that is a battle that most people face every few years.

Career management is a lifetime responsibility you have to yourself and your Board of Directors (your family). Unless you take it seriously, your career will lurch from job to job with no forethought or planning. You may wind up successful but it will be by accident, rather than by design.

Here are some of the mistakes I see people making when managing their careers:

1. Never thinking “big picture”

Do you have an idea of what you want to accomplish in your career? Do you tell yourself you want to be a C level executive and never find out what it takes to accomplish your goals?

Talk to people who are already in the role about what they did and the price they paid to get there (Yes, there is a price to achieve your goals)

2. Not Implementing

For years, I had great ideas and did nothing to implement them. I was scared to make a mistake. It took guts to start writing an ezine regularly, write my first book, do video, allow myself to be interviewed on tv and shoot for a pilot for a cable tv show (it wasn’t picked up). Once I started to do the first thing, more ideas came to me and it became easier to do them.

In my opinion, there are very few “safe jobs” or careers. Take risks! Experiment. Be great, not ordinary.

3. Not investing in your career

Life is expensive but not investing in yourself is more expensive because it may cost you opportunities for more satisfaction and money. Take classes regularly; learn to do things you are not good at now. You’ll get better at them and remove another excuse you and employer might have for why you’re not ready.

4. Being unprepared . . . badly

We are never completely prepared when we step into a new role but if we have done our homework we will succeed and have people notice that we “stepped up.” The positive attention will get you closer to your ultimate goal.

5. Being rude to recruiters

Most of the time, when we reach out to you, it is because you sent a resume to us, put it on a job board where we found it (after all, you announced you were looking for work) or because your experience may fit a position available that will pay you more money (yes, we sometimes ask for referrals but most of our attempts are for the reasons I site).

Sometimes recruiters make mistakes. Sometimes we catch you at the wrong time. It happens. I have a stack of people I will never help if they were the last candidate who could do a particular type of work because they believed they had the right to berate me for trying to help them accomplish what they said through their actions they wanted me to do. Be polite in all your dealings, particularly with search firms.

6. Undervaluing yourself

You may not be worth as much as someone with a PhD from a particular university who has worked for a particular firm but you are probably worth more than your manager is telling you are worth.

If you change jobs twice in 5 years (let’s say in your third and fifth year) and earn $10000 more with each job change, you will have earned more than $70000 more in those five years than if you had stayed at your current firm. Can you afford that?

7. Avoiding public speaking

Standing in front of an audience and speaking is just another skill. The great public speakers are people who have practiced to the point that they seem as though they are speaking “off the cuff.”

If you are uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience, find a Toastmaster’s meeting near where you live or work and overcome your fears

8. Not leveraging technology to your advantage

LinkedIn is an obvious place to build up your presence (I have a guide, “LinkedIn Job Search Success Made Simple” that will help. You can also read the chapter in, “Look Me Up: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Social Networking Your Way to Job Search Success”). Suffice it to say, LinkedIn is the preeminent place to build your professional social network. In Europe it is Xing. Google+ is very good too.

You can also set up a WordPress blog very cheaply at any number of webhosts, create videos for YouTube (and then post them to your blog or to LinkedIn. It all helps create an aura about you as a leader.

9. Not asking for what you want

In your marriage or in your relationships with a partner, are there times where you or they seem to think one of you should be able to read the other’s minds about what they really mean or want just because you love them?

Many people expect their manager to be able to read their mind and give them what they want without having told them. Along the way, you need to tell people what you’re striving for and what they can do to help you get there.

And if they don’t give it to you, take the message that they are giving you with their inaction and change your circumstances.

10. Not taking risks

This may seem oddly phrased but not taking risks is the riskiest thing you can do. After all, trusting that someone else or some enormous company is going to wisely look after your interests and those of your family and career is a proven losing strategy. Yet people continue to make this mistake and act like sheep taken to the slaughter.

© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2012


Do you really think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. is there to change that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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