Sometimes even a small mistake can feel like a disaster when it comes to your career. While certain mistakes can be detrimental to your job search (such as having typos in your resume or making your resume too long), there are many mistakes that seem catastrophic at the time but can actually teach you something. While telling off an important CEO with hundreds of connections could seriously endanger your future career, messing up in an interview probably won’t. Many mistakes can actually be helpful if you choose to learn from them and do better in the future instead of focusing on your past errors. No one can navigate through all of the necessary hoops that are involved in moving up the corporate ladder without making a few mistakes; you just need to use them to come back bigger and better. Here are five mistakes you can learn from.
1. Bombing an interview
It’s never good when you leave an interview feeling like you didn’t do your best, but knowing you completely bombed an interview is even worse. Whether you are desperate for a job because your bills are piling up, or you simply really wanted a specific position, the feeling of failure hurts just the same. According to Randall S. Hansen for Quintessential Careers, some of the worst mistakes include being late to the interview, appearing desperate, wearing inappropriate attire, and badmouthing a former boss.
There are many different potential interview mistakes. If you really care about the job, it may be worth writing a thank you letter and addressing your mistakes. Even if you don’t get a second chance, you still can learn from your mistakes and do better next time. Most people get nervous and make mistakes at interviews, but you will be more confident once you know what not to do.
2. Misusing technology
There are so many ways that you can harm your career via the Internet. It’s easy to accidentally send a work email to the wrong person, or to mistype something. Your mistake might just be embarrassing, or it might be serious enough to cost you your job. It’s important to always carefully read over your emails and to double-check who you are about to send it to. Also be sure to avoid “reply all” when you only mean to send a response to one person. It’s also probably best to avoid gossiping through email.
Social media is another easy way to damage your career (just think of Justine Sacco, who recently made news because of her inappropriate tweets). Whether you shared a tweet you wish you could take back, posted inappropriate photos on your profile (or your friends did), or you badmouthed your boss or coworkers and someone saw it, this is an easy mistake to learn from. Keep your social media private, or only post what you would be comfortable with anyone seeing.
It’s easy to become desperate if you have been searching for a job for months. It’s equally easy to take the first job that comes your way if you are fresh out of college and you don’t have any experience. Settling for the wrong job, or failing to hold out (or negotiate) the right salary is a mistake that most people make. Doing so probably won’t permanently destroy your career, but it is important to avoid repeatedly making these mistakes. If you settle for a salary that is lower than your credentials deserve too many times, you may have a difficult time getting what you actually deserve.
According to Business Insider, giving a precise number, using eye contact if you meet in person, being honest about your concerns, and making the first offer, can all help you negotiate your salary. Knowing what salary to ask for can be tricky, but sites like Glassdoor can help.
4. Getting lazy
Even if it doesn’t cost you your job, becoming lazy in your job will probably prevent you from advancing. It’s important to stay on top of your job duties, but you also need to pay attention to details, be organized, and take initiative. If you simply do the bare minimum, you won’t impress anyone. Your boss will also probably expect your work and your effort to improve with time, so don’t think that maintaining the same level of effort will be adequate as you become more competent in your position.
If you’ve become lazy in a previous job, or you have slacked off in your current job and someone noticed, you can still learn from this mistake. Make it a priority to never take your job for granted, and to work hard and try to do better.
5. Failing to make yourself indispensable
In addition to being lazy, there are many other reasons you might not advance in your career. You may lack the initiative to try for a better job, or you might have chosen the wrong job in the first place. Another mistake can be simply assuming that once you have a job, you don’t have to do much else to keep it or to advance. However, there are many ways you can improve your value to your company. One great way is to work on your skills. You can take classes, get a higher degree, take on extra projects, and even become an apprentice to someone who has the skills you want to learn.
In addition to improving your skills, according to to Life Hacker, working on highly visible projects is a great way to become indispensable, and also make your boss’s priorities your own. If your company has a lot of client interactions, you can also improve your worth by forming strong relationships with important clients.
There are many mistakes you can make during your career, and most of them won’t ruin your career forever. However, knowing how to respond and learn from those mistakes will help you succeed in the future.