“Silent Career Killers” are the things that nobody comes right out and tells you about in professional circles. If you know about them, you can keep from making serious mistakes in your career. But if you don’t address them, they will absolutely prevent you from advancing.
If you use these insider tips to your advantage every single day, you will join the top 10% of professionals in America. The top 10% make all the money and they never have to worry about job security. So can you. Read on…
Career Killer #1: Execution
At the end of the day, it’s all about getting the job done. Our professional network of employers and recruiters tell us that most candidates and employees look like they’ve been aimlessly floating around corporate America and through life. Are you one of those people? Be honest with yourself.
Become very focused on results. Ask yourself every day “What meaningful things am I going to accomplish today?” Stop doing busy work and chatting with your colleagues. In a matter of months, you will build an impressive track record and you will become unstoppable.
Career Killer #2: Communication Skills
The way you write and the way you talk determines how the world judges you. How smart you are is actually secondary, believe it or not. Think very, very carefully before you speak, even in casual conversation. Look over every email and memo before you send it out.
People are listening to you and watching you. They are forming an impression that will last for a long, long time. They are putting you “on the list’ or crossing you “off the list”. And they are telling others what they think about you. You have no idea what’s happening to your career behind the scenes. Now you know.
The unfortunate thing is that most people think they are just fine in this area but they aren’t. Read up on this topic and if need be, get an assessment of your communication skills from a professional coach and get to work on them.
Career Killer #3: Manners
It seems that nobody says “please”, “thank you”, and “excuse me” anymore. When you use good manners towards someone, you make them feel respected. People like that and they will like being around you. Good manners also give you an air of sophistication and good upbringing. Since so few people employ good manners – if you do, you will easily and quickly stand out as a capable and trustworthy person. Capable and trustworthy people always get ahead.
The following silent career-killers are ones that are going to make you stop and think. They will force you to be honest with yourself and make some choices. Know that everyone who has made the conscious decision to rise in their careers has struggled with these issues.
Career Killer #4: Your Daily Behavior
Are you really serious about your career? Most people say they are. But they don’t behave that way. Employers watch behavior on a daily basis. You may think that all you get is an annual performance evaluation. Let me tell you, you are getting a daily evaluation.
You have to look sharp and be sharp at all times. Yes, it’s hard work. But if you form good habits, it’ll be easier than you ever thought. Make 2006 the year that you form one or two excellent daily work habits. Just one or two, that’s all. Your career will have dramatic results if you do.
Career Killer #5: Who You Associate With
If you hang with people who aren’t well respected, you won’t be respected. I’m not telling you to dump your friends and colleagues and hang out in the executive dining room. And this is not about becoming a phony and brown nosing people.
What I am telling you is that you’ll never get any better unless you associate with people who also want to do better. This is what we call your “reference group”. Studies have shown that people can get the finest educations and have all the best advantages in the world. But ultimately, the quality of their “reference group” determines their success.
You will find people in your “reference group” who don’t want you to get ahead. They will give you a hard time, they will tell you can’t do it, they may sabotage you. Some of these people will even be family members.
Remember who is putting food on the table – you are. Gently and gradually disassociate yourself from them. It will set you free.
Career Killer #6: Your Image
OK, here’s the career-killer that nobody will ever talk about in public. So I will. People care about appearance. They like to be with well put together, trim, and attractive people. They associate appearance with intelligence and competence. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.
I’m not talking about looking like Miss America or getting plastic surgery. I’m talking about being fit, having clear skin, getting a good haircut, and having an overall pleasant appearance. And while you’re at it, get rid of the body piercings, the visible tattoos, and the outlandish wardrobe. Be conservative. And put a smile on your face.
If you think it doesn’t matter, let me tell you a little story. A former student of mine just graduated with high honors. Very bright individual. She’s been with her company for a long time and wants to move up. She can’t figure out why every time she applies for an internal promotion, she never even gets an interview. Well, her boss is a professional friend, so I asked him one day why this was. He told me “Nobody can stand to look at her or talk to her because of her tongue piercing. We really can’t say anything, but that’s the reason if you want to know. ” Just goes to show…
Career Killer #7: Emotional Control
Work is not the place to let your emotions run rampant. If you have a personal situation, you should see your manager immediately and have a plan to address it. Employers completely understand life issues such as divorce, problems with your children, depression…etc. But they do expect it to be temporary and that you will take care of it.
Don’t raise your voice, don’t get into quarrels with people, and don’t have public disagreements. If the other person wants to “take you on”, absolutely refuse to engage. Take a deep breath, excuse yourself, and walk away.
Whatever you do, don’t get a reputation for being “emotional”. It implies that you are unstable, unreliable, and can’t handle more responsibility (which is what promotions and more money bring). You’d be surprised at how many people get ahead in their careers mostly because they get along with everyone and are perceived as being very “even tempered”.
Dee Piziak is a manager for a Fortune 500 company and a university instructor. Her consulting firm, Acadia Communications, specializes in professional coaching, career development, and resume writing. Visit her website at http://www.acadiacommunications.com