The six biggest career mistakes you can easily avoid

Annoyingly, men still outnumber women in top positions in corporations. To address this imbalance, women need to make the right moves when it comes to their careers.

Here are six of the biggest career mistakes you can easily avoid.

Globe on tablet computer at office desktop. Media app icons flying around the globe. There is a warm glow behind the globe.1. Not knowing your worth

It is a mistake not to go after what you want. Don’t be fearful of approaching this as proactivity is the key.

Make a point of finding exactly what you are worth, and ask for it. It could be a raise, a promotion, stock options, or executive privileges.

Establish that you are no pushover and gain the attention of people that count. Interview coach Sarah Toben says about negotiation, ‘Even if you’re happy with the offer, don’t hesitate to ask for an additional 5%.’

2. Failing to grow

Leadership expert Sheila Murray Bethel said: ‘One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go.’

My first job was a disaster; it was boring, it paid peanuts, and it was sapping my energy. I wanted to be a writer, so I had thought any old job was fine as I would be a bestselling author in no time. That hasn’t happened yet and my first job left me so tired that I had no energy to work on my future masterpiece. Once I realised this,  I quit, and started accepting writing gigs as a freelancer. I thoroughly enjoyed myself because it helped me hone my skills in both writing and research and the pay was good. I quickly learned to value myself and I recognised that I produced quality work and still had time for my own project. I slowly grew my client base, and I learned new things all the time.

Times are changing, and changing fast. It would be a major mistake to stay precisely at your skill level and not learn anything new day in and day out. You have to keep advancing your knowledge and skills whenever you can. This will keep you at the competitive edge in your industry.

I was one of the lucky ones. I was in a field that had no glass ceiling and no one cared that I was a woman writer; they just cared about the work. Unfortunately, many women still subconsciously conform to a glass ceiling.

3. Not updating your resumé

You might think that your resumé is only important for getting your first job. On the contrary, your resumé needs to be outstanding if you already have several years of experience on the job. ResumesPlanet writer John Kirkwood says, ‘Head-hunters want candidates that have a big chance of getting the job, because that’s how they build their reputation and make their money. They want people with impressive and well-prepared resumés.’

Regularly update your resumé so you don’t forget to put in your key accomplishments.

4. Failing to adapt

Careerealism CEO J.T. O’Donnell points out, ‘In the last several years, there’s been a dramatic disruption in how we work. Today, every job is temporary, and studies suggest as much as half our workforce will be Independent Contractors by 2020…. those who bury their heads in the sand and try to keep building their career the old-fashioned way will suffer.’ You have to remember that you could lose your job tomorrow. Make sure you have a plan for that eventuality.

Looking down a spiral staircase5. Not expanding your network

Most people get stuck in their own little circle of professional contacts, and see no reason to expand their horizons. This is a career mistake simply because you are limiting your options.

It doesn’t hurt to establish relationships with different types of people in various industries, if only to give you some perspective. Networking may provide you with ideas on how to be better at your job, or even when a parallel move may be in order.

Author and Millennial leader Lindsey Pollak says, ‘My top career tip is to make sure your professional network is generationally diverse…. a multigenerational network will inspire you to try new strategies in your career this year.’

6. Failing to take risks

Job security is a top priority for many career builders, but that is hardly the stamp of an innovator and mover. C-Suite executive coach and author Ora Shtull says, ‘To avoid stalling on your personal path to success, extend your reach and deepen your connections both internally and externally.’ Sometimes, you just have to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You can start  by implementing better ways to get tasks done at work. Start small and up the ante as your confidence rises.

Developing your career today is very different to a few years ago. It takes more than a good education and hard work. Think strategically to stay ahead.

About Paige Donahue

I am a Comparative Literature & Literary Theory graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. I am energetic and fun-loving, and takes pleasure in the things around me: food, nature and especially people.