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10 Common but Toxic Career Habits You Need to Break

10 Common but Toxic Career Habits You Need to Break

Your job is stressing you out – it’s ok! It happens to the best of us. But instead of feeling overworked all of the time, take a step back and see what toxic career habits you need to break. Eliminating these negative habits will help you feel rejuvenated, so you can focus on your job with the passion you used to feel.

1. Not taking your lunch break.

It’s easy to work through your lunch break, I know! It really seems like the best solution when you weigh it against staying late. When you do this every day, however, you’re wearing yourself out unnecessarily. Take thirty minutes to enjoy your lunch. How refreshed you feel after will make you feel so much better that you’ll get more done than if you had worked through that entire time. If it doesn’t take you that long to eat, don’t sacrifice the rest of your break! Run an errand or go visit with some coworkers. It’s necessary to take short breaks from work to stay focused in the long run.

2. Not using your paid time off.

Deadline after deadline after deadline means you never get a chance to take your dream vacation! Well, make time! Your boss might not like being without you, but you’ve earned that vacation time, and you deserve to take it. Time off will make you feel refreshed, and by the time you have to get back to work, you’ll feel ready to handle any task that comes your way. If you really can’t take a week vacation to Hawaii, then take a few days here and there to give yourself some long weekends, and treat those as mini-vacations!

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3. Over-explaining yourself.

If you came up with a good idea for a project, let the idea stand on its own. Your boss doesn’t need to know exactly what you were doing when you came up with it, or who inspired you. If you took a personal day, it was because you needed it – you don’t need to share all the drama that surrounded that day. Same with sick days or doctor’s appointments: just say what you need to say and let it stand. If necessary, bring a doctor’s note – that will be story enough for your boss.

4. Not speaking up in meetings.

If something’s on your mind, speak up! If you have a good idea, throw it out there! If you take too long to think it through, you’ll find that someone else will speak up before you, possibly sharing a similar idea. Don’t say every thing that crosses your mind, but also don’t censor yourself prematurely. Sometimes it’s important to put something, anything, out there quickly to show you’re thinking, rather than to stay quiet and overthink an idea that might never be heard.

5. Taking on more than you can handle.

Don’t be afraid to say no to certain job duties. You can only do as much as you can do — if you’re already overworked, nothing will be helped by taking on another project. Turn it down graciously and say you need to fully focus on what’s on your plate now, but would love to work on such projects in the future. Make sure you know your limit so you’re not taking on too much before you can even say no to more.

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6. Repeatedly checking your email.

What a time-waster! We all do it – it takes just one second to see if anything new has popped up in your inbox, but the distraction subtracts minutes from your workday, each time you do it. Set specific times to check your email: when you first get in each morning, after your lunch break and an hour or two before quitting time. You might need to check it more if you’re waiting to hear from someone or are on a deadline, but don’t let yourself check it every five minutes. Stay focused on your task at hand.

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    7. Responding slowly.

    Don’t be that person who checks their email and then lets it sit there! Even if the person hasn’t added a read receipt, over time they’ll know you saw their message and haven’t responded, or they might think you ignored it completely. When you read each email, try to address it right then. Complete the task the email asks, give the information the person needs, or even just fire off a message letting them know you’re on the task. If you don’t reply right away, you’re more than likely going to forget about the email and therefore look like a slacker, or even worse, it’ll weigh heavily on your mind until you can’t think about anything else. Don’t add unnecessary things to your To Do list — take care of these emails as they come along.

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    8. Procrastinating.

    Procrastinating doesn’t just have to be about email! You can put off anything from a major project to a small task that would take no time at all to do. Sometimes it’s just too hard to make yourself do something when it needs to be done. But the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to do it. Just suck it up and do the task when it’s fresh on your mind, and you won’t have it weighing you down in the long run.

    9. Being unprepared.

    Sometimes you forget your lunch or leave your phone at home. Everyone has been unprepared for something, but try not to let it happen at work. Forgetting something every once in a while s understandable, but if it happens too much, it will affect your job. Being unprepared for your work day will throw you off your game, and it’ll be harder for you to accomplish what needs to be done. Being unprepared for a meeting or presentation will make your bosses and coworkers think you’re not together enough to handle the job, or you just don’t care enough to put forth the effort.

    10. Complaining.

    You’re at work – be professional! Yes, it sucks that your boss moved the deadline up by a week, but does complaining help? It just makes you look immature and unprofessional. Even complaining to coworkers will look bad — and you never know who might let something slip to the boss! Not complaining will also help your mood — instead of feeling like everything goes wrong for you and you alone, how pitiful, you can nix those thoughts immediately and make yourself have a better attitude, which will help you get back to business quicker. You’ll be prepared for that deadline before you know it!

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    Featured photo credit: indi.ca via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on August 19, 2019

    20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

    20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

    A resume describes your critical skills in a way that compels a hiring manager to want to meet you. That is a resume’s sole purpose.

    And make no mistake: Writing a resume is an art.

    Today each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes on average, and somehow yours will need to rise above the competition. It’s actually harder to snag an interview from an online posting than to get into Harvard. But don’t let that intimidate you. Instead, open your laptop, roll up your proverbial sleeves, and let’s get to work!


    Employers generally prefer candidates with skills that show leadership ability, problem-solving ability, and perseverance through challenges. So in the resume, you should demonstrate that you’re a dynamic candidate.

    Refine the skills on your resume so that you incorporate these resume “musts:”

    1. Leadership Ability

    Even an entry-level employee can show leadership. Point out how your skills helped your department ascend to a new level. Capture leadership attributes with compelling statements.

    Example:

    “Led change that drove efficiency and an ability to cut 800 error-free payroll checks.”

    2. Problem-Solving Ability

    Most employees are hired to solve problems. Showcase that ability on your resume.

    Example:

    “Led staff in campaign to outrival top competitor’s market share during a down cycle.”

    3. Perseverance

    Have you been promoted several times? Or have you maintained margins in a down cycle? Both achievements demonstrate persistence. You look like someone who can navigate roadblocks.

    4. Technical Skills

    Consider including a Key Skills or Technology Skills section in which you list computer and software skills.

    Example:

    “Expert-level knowledge in Java.”

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    5. Quantified Results

    Nothing is quite as attractive as objective results. Did you increase sales by 25 percent? Win three new clients? Surpass the internal goal by 15 percent?

    Use hard-hitting numbers to express your point. State the result first, and then provide a sentence or phrase describing the critical skills you applied to achieve the milestone.

    Example:

    “Boosted sales by 200 percent by developing new online platform that made it easier for customers to compare and contrast sizes, textures, and fit.”

    6. People Skills

    Employers prefer congenial staff members to prima donnas or mavericks. Relate your strongest soft skills.

    Example:

    “Organized, hard-working staffer who listens well and communicates effectively.”

    7. Passion in the Field

    Recruiters and hiring managers can intuit whether candidates care about their career performance by the dynamism behind the descriptions of their skills on their resumes. Are your efforts “transformational” or merely “useful?” Were your results “game-changing” or boringly “appropriate?”

    The tenor of your words reveals whether you’re passionate or passive. (But don’t overdo it. See the “Hyperbole” section below.)

    8. Being the Entrepreneur within the Corporation

    Whether you took the initiative to create a new synergy or worked independently to land an opportunity, share how you furthered organizational goals through your self-directed efforts.

    9. Your Adaptability

    Have you switched career paths? Weathered a corporate takeover?

    Make it clear that your resilience helped get you and your organization through the turbulence.

    10. Confirming Your Expertise

    Every job posting states experience requirements. Ideally, you want to meet these requirements or best them. But don’t exaggerate.


    While proving that you possess the credentials described in the job posting, you can still stand out if you are able to offer additional special skills to showcase your personality.

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    Consider adding any of these special accomplishments, if true:

    11. Referencing Award-Winning Talents

    If you played center on your college basketball team that made it into the Top 10 finals, then working collaboratively and cooperatively are among your natural callings. Be sure to say so.

    12. Unveiling Your Work Persona

    If you were repeatedly singled out for your stellar performance in work settings, becoming employee-of-the-month, top revenue generator, and so on — it’s worth mentioning.

    13. Capitalizing on Commonalities

    From Googling the hiring manager, you discover that she was formerly a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize. Listing your Spanish immersion course in Central America may draw her attention to the other outstanding skills on your resume.

    14. Highlighting Creative Tactics

    If, for example, in your HR role, you piloted an employee incentive program that became an industry model, include it. Such innovative thinking will command an employer’s attention.

    15. Specifying All Accolades

    Listing any honors received instills confidence that you will bring that level of perfectionism forward in a corporate environment.

    16. Transferable Skills

    You spend your spare time conducting your community orchestra. Highlight this after-hours pursuit to show that you have the critical skills needed to keep a team on task.


    Take note: Hyperbole can hurt you. So, show your credibility.

    Although it may be tempting to use embellishments to boost your experience, improve your job title, or enhance your education, resist. These days, a five-minute search will reveal the truth. And taking self-inflation too far could easily come back to destroy your career.

    Hiring managers have their antenna up for resume hyperbole. A survey shows that 53 percent are suspicious that candidates are often dishonest.

    Follow these guiding principles when writing your own resume:

    17. Accurately Describing Your Degree

    Make sure to differentiate between certificates attained and degrees earned, along with the name of the institution awarding them.

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    18. Stating Job Duration with Honest Dates

    Honesty is the only policy when reporting the length of a particular job. If you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, state the reason you have gaps.

    Whether you traveled, had to cope with a family emergency, or went back to school to change your professional track, communicate the positive outcome that came from the hiatus.

    19. Claiming Only the Skills You Truly Possess

    Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

    Conversely, if you feel like you must include them, then accurately qualify your level of competence.

    20. Being Honest About Your Role in a Project

    You may think you were the lead person because you did most of the work, but chances are your supervisor thinks otherwise.

    Besides the 20 critical skills to include on your resume, here’re some important notes for you.

    Bonus Tips for Writing a Resume

    You Only Have 6 to 7 Seconds to Impress the Employer

    Hiring managers and artificial intelligence “bots” may spend only 6 to 7 seconds perusing your resume, which means you need it to teem with essential skills, quantifiable achievements, and action words.

    If, in fact, you believe that a “bot” will be analyzing your resume before it even lands on a hiring manager’s desk, be sure to include some of the actual key words from the posting in your document. There’s no reason why you can’t customize your resume to each job posting.

    Another tip: Be sure to show your resume to a few individuals who work in your field, so that you can fine-tune the information as needed.

    Starting at the Top

    The Objective at the top of your resume is optional if you’re seeking the same job you already have, just at different company. However, if you’re switching fields, it’s critical to include an Objective, which is a one-sentence summary of the job you want.

    For example:

    Objective: To become web editor at a thriving news website.

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    If you’ve been in your field for ten years or more, you will probably want to include an Executive Summary. This is a one-sentence takeaway about who you are, including the critical skills you amassed throughout your career.

    For example:

    Executive Summary: Award-winning creative director with over ten years experience managing teams on three continents.

    Depending on your field, you may also want to add some skills as bullet points in the Executive Summary section.

    And what about your Education? If you graduated from college within the past ten years, include your Education just below the Objective section (and forgo the Executive Summary). If it’s been over ten years since you graduated, then include your Education at the very end of your resume. Only cite your grade point average (G.P.A.) if it was exceptional—3.7 G.P.A. or higher, or if you won scholastic awards.

    Ideally, the critical skills you amassed during college, at your previous job, and throughout your career will add up to a riveting portrait of a professional who’s ideally suited for your dream position: You.

    Tailor, Tweak, and Fine-Tune

    If you’re targeting different kinds of organizations, you’ll need customized resumes for each outreach.

    Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, organizations will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

    Approach Your Resume as a Skills-Based Story

    Like any good storyteller, lay out the framework at the beginning. Include the skills you’ve mastered and state how you can add value—wording your sentences in a way that reflects the specific job you’re seeking.

    Are you vying for a sales position? Quantify your results: “Responsible for 50 percent of all sales that resulted in $750,000 in annual revenue.” Use your critical skills, peppered throughout your resume, to tell the exciting story of your distinguished professional career!

    Researching the organization that you’re targeting will help you make your examples specific. Does the company cater to a particular audience or clientele? Be sure to note any experiences you’ve had with similar audiences.

    Putting It All Together

    A resume is not a laundry list. It tells a cohesive story. Your story should highlight your qualifications and critical skills in a way that makes a logical, well-constructed case for your compatibility with the organization and its advertised position.

    Packaging your story into the concisely prescribed format of a resume means that it will read as a synopsis — one that will hopefully land you the job.

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    Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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