A few years ago I had an interview with a gentleman who had 10 years of experience in accounting. However, when I began asking basic questions about the A/R and A/P skills that he’d listed on his resume, he said “I don’t like to use acronyms. What exactly do you mean when you say A/R and A/P?” Needless to say he wasn’t hired. But the story shed some light on career time wasters. When I asked him about a typical day at work, he said the company was small and there really wasn’t a lot to do. Sometimes he would copy DVDs for the owner, some days he answered the phone and made appointments. So who was doing the A/R and A/P? The owner. He said that the owner preferred to keep her own books, but he handled it when she was out of town. In other words, this gentleman spent 7 of his 10 years of employment pretty much doing nothing. He had a degree in Accounting, but he had nothing to show for it. He was pretty much still at entry level.
Here are the 10 worst things you can do to your career:
- Not growing in your position. If you take a receptionist job, try to increase your knowledge of the company and try to take on tasks in departments where you’d like to work. Everyone can usually use a hand, and there are many jobs that can be done at your desk. If someone goes out on extended sick leave, this can be your opportunity to shine.
- Telling your life story at work. Everyone knows that your utilities have been cut off, your child’s mother is dating another man so you’re going to stop child support payments, or you’re being served with another garnishment. But this garnishment isn’t a bill you created—noooo, it’s a bill your sister created but she used your information. Everyone has personal problems. But when you broadcast them at work people may be less likely to trust you with important assignments.
- Displaying anger at work. Everyone gets angry, but what you do with it when you are at work may determine the length of your employment. Getting mad and cussing someone out at work is never good. Unless you’re Johnny Paycheck, take a few minutes and step away from the situation.
- Showing up late for meetings. Nothing screams ‘I don’t care’ like slinking into a meeting late. Granted, there may be times when one meeting runs into another and you’re running down the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator, but it shouldn’t be your M.O. Walking in late disrupts the meeting already in progress and you typically will end up sitting next to the very person you try to avoid.
- Submitting reports with errors. Proofread your material. There’s nothing more embarrassing than handing out a great-looking report only to have to pick them all up due to errors. Double check your dates and figures so that people don’t immediately just try to find your mistakes.
- Crying at work. No, no, no, no, no! There is no crying in baseball and there is no crying at work! This is not limited to women. When men cry, well, not to sound sexist but it’s weird. No one expects a man to cry, much less turn on the water works on the job. Crying (either sex) changes the dynamics of the workplace and can change how your co-workers view you. They may feel you will crumble under pressure.
- Storing personal information on the company computer. There is no right to privacy when it comes to company equipment. Keep your resume and any other personal documents off of the company computer. Many companies monitor web activity, but if your computer freezes and tech support comes to fix it, you don’t want it to look like you’re spending your days doing things other than work.
- Not privatizing your Facebook Page. This is an on-going concern. If you choose to ‘friend’ co-workers, be mindful that your pictures and any comments may become public. Don’t get your therapy on Facebook. If your relationship is falling apart, contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
- Being predictable when it comes to calling off sick. I worked with a lady years ago who used to take 5 day weekends at least once a month beginning in August and ending in December. We used to place coffee bets (loser had to go and pick up the coffee) about when it would start. It was always the same story. She had to stay home when her daughter got sick on Wednesday. On Thursday, her son caught what the daughter had, so she had to stay home with him. On Friday she’d caught what they had–home again.
- Lying about your credentials. You’ve just landed this awesome gig. You know you can do the job with your eyes closed. The problem is the job requires an MBA. Well, you hope that once they see what you can do, not having an MBA won’t matter. But look at the amount of stress you place on yourself—wondering when the day will come that they call you on your lie. At that point it won’t matter how well you have performed on the job. You will be branded a liar and given the ax for falsifying your application. There are plenty of accredited online schools in which to get your degree. Take the time and get it.