The Blog

Three Common Career Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Burning bridges

If you have been particularly frustrated at your job and get another offer, it’s tempting to quit without appropriate notice or to use the exit interview as an opportunity to bad-mouth your boss, coworkers or the company. While this may give you some short-term satisfaction, you never know when you might run into these people in the future and your words or actions will come back to haunt you. That coworker you slammed may be part of the hiring team of the job you really want two years from now. 

Plus, plenty of managers do “backdoor references,” informally asking people in their network who may be employed at your previous companies about your reputation there (often without your knowledge.) If you left on a sour note, chances are you won’t get that new job offer and you won’t even know why! 

So, make sure you resist saying anything rash, give an acceptable notice period, work professionally to transfer your duties and walk out the door with grace. You never know when you might need any of these people to be a reference, so keep any discussions short and sweet, i.e., “I found another opportunity that was better for my career long-term.” Learn more about the most professional ways to leave a job.

Not negotiating your worth

Unfortunately, this mistake is especially true of women. Studies show that even starting at entry level, women do not negotiate as aggressively as men, which likely accounts, in part, for the ongoing salary disparity between men and women. This can be a vicious circle, as your current salary often factors into your salary at your next job. A new employer may feel giving you a large increase from your current rate is enough, even if it doesn’t get you to the market standard; he or she may not feel inclined to make up for all of your poor negotiating from the past. There are new pay equity laws being enacted around the  country, and they are here to protect candidates and level the field during the hiring process. 

Do your homework as much as possible. Have a solid idea of the range for the position, and don’t be afraid to ask for more if it’s a fair amount for your role and industry. You can use online salary surveys and review comparable job listings to see what other companies are paying, or talk to experts in the field, including other workers in the industry or recruiters. If more salary isn’t an option, get creative with asking for a higher bonus or stock if they are offered at the new company. 

But, know your audience; there are some companies, like Reddit for example, where they do not negotiate and make their final offer out of the gate. There are plenty of companies, however, that expect to negotiate as part of the process and might even think less of you if you don’t! They could see your confidence in handling a sensitive negotiation professionally as a sign of your ability to handle difficult situations appropriately in the future. Learn more about salary negotiations.

Taking a counter offer

Even smart people can be sucked in by the flattery of a counter offer. Your company starts telling you how wonderful you are and how they can’t live without you, they offer you a higher title or more money and they promise everything will be better from now on. The problem is where was all this praise and attention in the months leading to your decision to leave? 

While it feels emotional to you, a counter offer is purely a business decision on the part of your company; it will cost them money to hire and train your replacement so it’s easier to keep you while they figure out what to do. You’ll always be the person who wanted to leave so if there are any layoffs, you’ll be first on the chopping block. And, most importantly, a higher title or salary does not fix all of the reasons you were leaving in the first place. Most people who accept a counter leave the company within a year anyway, either at their choice or the company’s. No matter how enticing it seems, just don’t take one. Learn more about avoiding counter offers.

As the old saying goes, cooler heads prevail. Try to remove the fear and emotion when weighing your career changes. If you come to the choices from a logical and professional place, you will make the right decision for both your long- and short-term career growth and happiness.

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