5 Surefire Ways to Short-Circuit a Career

We all dream of having a long, fruitful work career, including promotions, raises, and eventually, a happy and comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, not all of us will achieve that dream. Just getting a job can be difficult, and once we have a job, most of us want to keep it, at least until something better comes along. Some of us were told as kids that as long as we worked hard, remained loyal and honest employees, and put in our hours, we would continue to progress in our careers and have a satisfying work life.

Unfortunately, these habits won’t guarantee your career, especially if you are making some critical mistakes that can derail your career. Certain behaviors will quickly turn you away from the advancing career that you want and instead, short-circuit your career. The following five behaviors will leave you starting over or remaining stagnant in your job, with no real hope for advancement.

1. Swearing at work

While swearing at work might be commonplace and might even make you feel more chummy or comfortable with your co-workers, it isn’t a good idea if you want to advance regularly in your career. While you don’t want to appear like a cold fish, you can bond with your co-workers and your boss through more respectful means, like sharing appropriate stories, and, most of all, doing a good job and working together to succeed at your company.

A 2012 Career Builder survey found that employees who frequently swear might be losing out on promotions. Sixty-four percent of employers surveyed said they’d think less of an employee who swore regularly, and 57 percent said they’d be less likely to promote someone with that behavior. So if you regularly swear at work and you think you are building a stronger relationship with your boss because of it, you might want to think again.

2. Not being a consistent worker

If you have to cancel a meeting once in a while, your co-workers and your boss won’t mind. If you are late once but don’t make a habit of it, you will probably not be penalized. Especially if you do a good job regularly and show loyalty to your company, these smaller behaviors probably won’t get you fired.

However, if you are late regularly or you consistently cancel meetings (or just don’t show up), it could cost you your job. Your boss will certainly notice if you aren’t taking aspects of your job seriously, even if you are prioritizing other parts of your job. Some bosses won’t even say anything if you are regularly late, but that doesn’t mean they don’t notice. While you may not get fired, you might stop yourself from being promotion material.

3. Not being a team player

Most jobs require the ability to work in teams and to work well individually, so bosses will usually expect you to have both skills. Even if you are incredibly skilled at your particular job duties, if you can’t get along with your co-workers, your boss is sure to notice. Regardless of whether you just don’t work well on projects with other people or you actually are awkward or antisocial around others, you will hurt your career advancement if you can’t get along with others.

You will almost always have to work with others at any job, so making it a priority to at least be civil is a must. In addition, just refusing to help out co-workers or being disinterested in team-building activities might hurt your chances of a promotion; your boss will want to hire someone who gets along with other people and is willing to set aside differences in order to complete important work. It is equally important for you to avoid gossiping at work. Being nice to a co-worker or your boss to their faces won’t mean much if they repeatedly hear you have said bad things about them.

4. Being too free on social media

The issue of social media is a consistent problem, and it will continue to be now that so many people are part of social media sites. Even companies are getting on the social media train, and because of this, your interview or even your promotion, can be affected by what you post or what you say. If you complain regularly about your job on a social media site, there’s a good chance it will get back to your boss. Even if you aren’t friends with your boss on the site, word of mouth travels quickly. If your boss sees inappropriate images or posts, they may stick in his or her mind when considering candidates for a promotion. Social media sites also appear high in searches, so you should be careful to set your privacy settings as high as possible.

5. Changing jobs too often

While you should certainly change companies in order to advance in your career, changing positions, job fields, or companies too often sends a red flag to employers and can damage your chances of your dream career. Although money is important, consistently jumping from one job to another in order to get a raise will eventually catch up with you. It can also leave your prior boss feeling sour, especially if you don’t give enough notice before you leave.

If you consistently leave companies, you may also be the first one to go if a company has to lay off employees, because your history will show that you may not stay anyway. You also might not have the same satisfaction with your job that others have because you don’t stay around long enough to really get to know a job or a company. However, there are pros to job hopping, including the chance to make more money, try more jobs, and find the right fit. Just make sure you don’t abuse those pros.

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