4 career management moves to avoid

Mistake

Here are four career management mistakes you should avoid, along with suggestions for solutions that can help turn your career around.

If you've been in the working world for any amount of time, you've surely heard advice about how to grow your career. You've probably heard much less, however, about the oversights and miscalculations that can send your professional trajectory on a downward path. But there are particular actions -- or lack thereof -- that can serve as obstacles on your way to greater career success. Here are four career management mistakes you should avoid, along with suggestions for solutions that can help turn your career around.

1. Ignore industry changes.
Think you can get by on the knowledge and skills you gained 10 -- or even five -- years ago? Think again. If you don't stay on top of evolving industry trends and practices, you'll quickly render yourself obsolete. Employers value workers who help their organizations stay ahead of the competition. They want employees who are aware of relevant industry issues -- especially those who can lead the change.

What to do: Make sure that your skills are current and you're always paying attention to what's happening in your industry. Start by subscribing to relevant newsletters and following experts on LinkedIn and Twitter. Attend industry conferences so you can stay in the know, learn about cutting-edge developments and bring innovations back to your team. Also ask your manager about career development programs.

2. Don't network. With anyone. Ever.
You may think of yourself as shy and a bit introverted, but if you don't interact with others on the job, you'll have difficulty effectively handling career management. Even if you're the office's most productive employee, you need your colleagues if you're going to advance professionally. Your co-workers and friends can introduce you to new ideas, help you keep up on what's happening in your company and industry, and even alert you to a job opening that would represent the next step on your career path. Besides, if you head straight for your desk, stay there all day and eat lunch by yourself, people may think you're avoiding them for a reason, and you might get labeled as a snob.

What to do: Leave your desk and network. Join a professional association and attend meetings and mixers. Socialize with co-workers when you can, at lunch or at after-hours get-togethers. Do what you can to put yourself in the path of people who could one day help propel your career forward, whether or not they work in your field.

At work, seek out colleagues you're in frequent contact with by email and phone but never see. Ask them to share lunch or coffee with you, and show that you take an interest in who they are and not just what they do. When you have friends and allies on the job, you become a better team player -- and what's more, the workplace becomes more enjoyable.

3. Be wishy-washy about your career plans.
Some people instinctively know what they want to do with their lives, from an early age. Other people are less decisive. If you float along in that uncertain place for too long, though, you can end up feeling unsatisfied in your job. You might also give managers the impression you're not interested in your career, and that could mean getting passed over for plum projects or even promotions.

What to do: Knowing what you want to do and where you want to go are key components of career management and long-term happiness. What are you passionate about, and what do you want to get out of your professional life? Use the answers to those questions as a starting point for developing your career goals. Then review those goals and your accomplishments every year or so to make sure you're still on the right track. When you're truly passionate about your work, you'll be more dedicated and driven -- and employers and colleagues will notice.

4. Be overly humble.
Do you reflexively deflect compliments? If so, it's time to change your automatic reaction. Modesty is an admirable trait, but if you're constantly underselling yourself, your boss and co-workers may start to believe you.

What to do: Accept compliments graciously. If a colleague played an integral role in the project you're being commended for, acknowledge that, but don't refuse the praise. If you don't know what to say, use words like, "Thanks. It was a challenge, but renewing the client was worth it. Chris also played a huge role." Make sure your employer knows that your priority is to help the company meet goals and to succeed.

Don't be a victim of poor career management. Follow these tips to ensure you don't sabotage your professional life. If you have already, use these ideas to get it back on a successful track.

Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, read our blog at blog.roberthalf.com or follow us on social media at roberthalf.com/follow-us.