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Everyone Should Avoid Making These 10 Career Mistakes

Everyone Should Avoid Making These 10 Career Mistakes

You have decided you are going to make your mark and you will have a stellar career. That’s great, but let’s hope you avoid making these career mistakes which could shatter your dream in the long term. In order to make it to the top, here are 10 mistakes you should never make.

1. You limit your networking to inside the company.

Some employees cannot be bothered to start networking outside their company. They may be pretty friendly and helpful inside the company, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just think what would happen if you were not in the loop when a new acquisition was proposed. You are the production manager and because you neglected networking, you were just not on the ball. You failed to exploit your contacts outside the company to gain valuable feedback, support and knowledge of market trends and innovation. That is the value of networking, yet many managers underestimate its importance. A lot of this needs to be done offline because it is the real social contact and human interaction that counts. It will give you a chance to seize an opportunity because you have your ear to the ground.

Larry Page failed to spot the opportunity of developing a Google social network in time. When they did eventually launch Google Buzz (later Google +), they failed to take off because of Facebook’s dominance.

“I clearly knew that I had to do something and I failed to do it.” —Larry Page.

2. You place too much importance on salary and benefits.

How does a temporary salary cut appeal to you? If you are considering a move, think of the experience rather than the money. In the long term, this will pay handsome dividends as the new job will be a challenge for you to achieve new goals. Aim to widen your skills set, broaden your responsibilities and manage teams. Think of the job satisfaction that it will give you and also how impressive it will be on your resume. Nobody will notice your salary increases.

3. You are afraid of failure.

If you are afraid of failure, it is doubtful whether you will be able to learn from mistakes. The successful manager has to factor failure in for every project. One good piece of advice is to look at a project before it becomes operational and ask your team to list what could go wrong. This is a great way of identifying possible problems and obstacles and it can help you make adjustments if necessary.

When failure does happen, you have to be ready to react without playing the blame game. Wise tactics include listening, getting feedback and analysing what went wrong. There is some excellent advice along these lines in the book, Managing Yourself: Can You Handle Failure? by Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan.

Success will not teach you; failure will. This is the bitter lesson that Bill Gates learned when he failed to develop a Microsoft search engine. When he did develop Bing, it was already too late. It had little success and it cost Microsoft more than $2.5 million than it earned in 2011.

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“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” —Bill Gates

4. You buy property.

Maybe you have always wanted to buy a house in your favorite area, near your workplace. The problem about doing this early on in your career is that you are tied in many ways to one location. You are less mobile which may be a factor against you when you want to move up the ladder. Of course, you can always rent it but there are extra hassles which you could do well without. Many companies will be reluctant to pay expensive moving costs.

5. You avoid challenges.

Taking the easy way out is a short term policy which will not stand you in good stead. It is when you encounter difficulties that you begin to understand how you react to stress. You also realize what your strengths and weaknesses are and you can avoid any situations which are totally negative and sap your energy. Aim for challenges where you feel that you can grow and use your skills and passions to greater effect. It is only when meeting difficulties along the way that you can understand that.

“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had – everyday I’m learning something new.” —Richard Branson

 6. You ignore customer feedback.

Some successful businessmen have made very foolish decisions about launching a product or service, simply because they did not take customers’ needs or wishes into consideration. A example not to follow is that of Hiten Shah (founder of KISSMetrics) who spent $1m on developing a hosting company that never even launched. They realized too late that customer delight must be top priority. A similar example is that of Robin Chase co-founder of Zipcar.

“We built the website first and asked our customers about it later.” —Robin Chase

 7. You are too self-absorbed.

Basically you do not help coworkers or colleagues as you are too focused on your own success. This is a big mistake as research shows that when you help your peers, you are building a broad base of support which will pay off handsomely down the road. Research done by James Citrin and Richard Smith shows that the most successful entrepreneurs were four times more likely to help their peers than those who had not made it to the top. This is mentioned in their book The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction.

8. You avoid hard work.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” —Vince Lombardi

Almost all successful entrepreneurs are convinced that the real secret to their success was hard work, self-discipline and self-confidence.

9. You are afraid to make a job change.

You may feel that your present working environment is far too restrictive and that you are not able to develop your leadership skills sufficiently. There may be other restrictions such as a lack of training to widen your skills set. Examine carefully how a job change could put you on the next step of the ladder. If you wallow in self-pity and boredom you will never have the courage to make a job change which could help your career to take off.

10. You undervalue emotional intelligence.

Nowadays, successful leaders have learned that emotional intelligence is really crucial in managing a team and also leading a company forward to success. Some studies are suggesting that a person’s success may depend only 25% on qualifications and intelligence while the remainder is made up of people skills and empathy, which make up the core of emotional intelligence.

If you cannot relate to the thoughts, experience and feelings of your peers or your team members, then you will be unable to manage them successfully. Whether you are a team member or you are in a managerial role, emotional intelligence should be high on your list of skills to acquire.

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Let us know in the comments what mistakes you made in your career and what were the lessons you learned.

Featured photo credit: Crosshairs- success/Flazingo Photos via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

Turning 50 is a milestone in anyone’s life, after all you are half way to 100! But seriously, turning 50 is often a time in life when people can sit back and take a look at where they’ve been and contemplate what the future holds.

Can you change careers at 50? It’s not uncommon for people in their 50’s to consider a career change, after all if you’ve spent 20 to 30 years in a career, chances are that some of the bloom is off the rose.

Often, when we are starting out in our 20’s, we choose a career path based on factors that are no longer relevant to us in our 50’s. Things like our parents’ expectations, a fast paced exciting lifestyle or the lure of making a lot of money can all be motivating factors in our 20’s.

But in our 50’s, those have given way to other priorities. Things like the desire to spend more time with family and friends, a slower paced less stressful lifestyle, the need to care for a sick spouse or elderly parents can all contribute to wanting a career change in your 50’s.

Just like any big life changing event, changing careers is scary. The good news is that just like most things we are scared of, the fear is mostly in our own head.

Understanding how to go about a career change at 50 and what you can expect should help reduce the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

What are Your Goals for a Career Change?

As in any endeavor, having properly defined goals will help you to determine the best path to take.

What are you looking for in a new career? Choosing a slower less stressful position that gives you more time with family and friends may sound ideal, but you’ll often find that you’re giving up some income and job satisfaction in the process.

Conversely, if your goal is to quit a job that is sucking the life from your soul to pursue a lifelong passion. You might be trading quality time with family and friends for job satisfaction.

Neither decision is wrong or bad, you just need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of any decision you make.

Types of Career Changes at 50+

There are four main types of career changes that people make in their 50’s. Each type has it’s unique set of challenges and will very in the degree of preparation required to make the change.

Industry Career Change

In this career change, a person remains in the same field but switches industries.

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With an industry change, a person takes their set of skills and applies them to an industry that they have no previous experience in.

An example would be a salesperson in the oil and gas industry becoming a salesperson for a media (advertising) company. They are taking their skill set (selling) and applying it to a different industry (media).

This type of career change is best accomplished by doing a lot of homework on the industry you want to get into as well as networking within the industry.

Functional Career Change

A functional career change would be a change of careers within the same industry.

For example, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company who changes careers to become a human resources manager. It may or may not be with the same company, but they remain within the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, they are leaving one set of skills behind (accounting) to develop a new set (human resource) within the same industry.

In a functional career change, new or additional training as well as certifications may be required in order to make the switch. If you are considering a functional career change, you can start by getting any training or certifications needed either online, through trade associations or at your local community college.

Double Career Change

This is the most challenging career change of all. A person doing a double career change is switching both a career and an industry.

An example of a double change would be an airline pilot quitting to pursue their dream of producing rock music. In that case, they are leaving both the aviation industry and a specific skill set (piloting) for a completely unrelated industry and career.

When considering a double career change, start preparing by getting any needed training or certifications first. Then you can get your foot in the door by taking an apprenticeship or part time job.

With a double change, it’s not uncommon to have to start out at the bottom as you are asking an employer to take a chance on someone without any experience or work history in the industry.

Entrepreneurial Career Change

Probably one of the most common career changes made by people in their 50’s is the entrepreneurial career change.

After 20 to 30 years of working for “Corporate America”, a lot of people become disillusioned with the monotony, politics and inefficiency of the corporate world. Many of us dream of having our own business and being our own boss.

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By this time in our life, we have saved some money and the financial pressures we had with young children have passed; so it’s a perfect time to spread our entrepreneurial wings.

Entrepreneurial career changes can be within the same industry and using your existing knowledge and contacts to start a similar business competing within the same industry. Or it can be completely unrelated to your former industry and based on personal interests, passions or hobbies.

A good example would be someone who played golf as a hobby starting an affiliate marketing website selling golf clubs. If you are considering an entrepreneurial career change, there are a lot of very good free resources available on the internet. Just be sure to do your homework.

Practical Tips on Making a Career Change at 50+

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and make a career switch in your 50’s. No matter what your reasons or what type of a career change you are embarking on, here are some helpful hints to make the transition easier:

1. Deal with the Fear

As stated earlier, any big life change comes with both fear and anxiety. Things never seem to go as smoothly as planned, you will always have bumps and roadblocks along the way. By recognizing this and even planning for it, you are less likely to let these issues derail your progress.

If you find yourself becoming discouraged by all of the stumbling blocks, there are always resources to help. Contacting a career coach is a good place to start, they can help you with an overall strategy for your career change as well as the interview and hiring process, resume writing / updating and more. Just Google “Career Coach” for your options.

I also recommend using the services of a professional counselor or therapist to help deal with the stress and anxiety of this major life event.

It’s always good to have an unbiased third party to help you work through the problems that inevitably arise.

2. Know Your “Why”

It’s important that you have a clear understanding of the “why” you are making this career change. Is it to have more free time, reduce stress, follow a passion or be your own boss?

Having a clear understanding of you personal “why” will influence every decision in this process. Knowing your “why” and keeping it in mind also serves as a motivator to help you reach your goals.

3. Be Realistic

Take an inventory of both your strengths and weaknesses. Are your organizational skills less than stellar? Then, becoming a wedding planner is probably not a good idea.

This is an area where having honest outside input can be really helpful. Most of us are not very good at accurately assessing our abilities. It’s a universal human trait to exaggerate our abilities while diminishing our weaknesses.

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Requesting honest feedback from friends and co-workers is a good place to start, but this is another area where a career coach can come in handy.

4. Consider an Ad-Vocation

Sometimes, making a career change all at once is just too big of a change. Issues like a severely reduced income, geography and lack of benefits can all be impediments to your career change. In those cases, you may want to start your new career as an ad-vocation.

An ad-vocation is a second or ad-on vocation in addition to your primary vocation. Things like a part-time job, consulting or even a side business can all be ad-vocations.

The benefit of having an ad-vocation is being able to build experience a reputation and contacts in the new field while maintaining all the benefits of your current job.

5. Update Your Skills

Whether it means acquiring new certifications or going back to school to get your cosmetology licence, having the right training is the foundation for a successful career change.

The great thing about changing careers now is that almost any training or certifications needed can be free or at very little cost online. Check with trade associations, industry websites and discussion groups for any requirements you may need.

Learn How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive.

6. Start Re-Branding Yourself Now

Use the internet and social media to change the way you present yourself online.

Changing your LinkedIn profile is a good way to show prospective employers that you are serious about a career change.

Joining Facebook groups, trade associations and discussion boards as well as attending conventions is a great way to start building a network while you learn.

Here’re some Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success.

7. Overhaul Your Resume

Most of us have heard the advice to update our resume every six months, and most of us promptly ignore that advice and only update our resume when we need it.

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When making a career change, updating is not enough; this calls for a complete overhaul of your resume. Chances are that your current resume was designed around your old career which may or may not apply to your new goals.

Crafting a new resume emphasizing your strengths for the new position your looking for is key. There are many places that will help you craft a resume online and it is a service included with most career coaching services.

8. Know Your Timeline

There are a lot of factors when it comes to how long it will take to make the career change.

Industry and Functional career changes tend to be the easiest to do and therefore can be accomplished in the shortest period of time. While the Double Career Change and the Entrepreneurial Career Change both require more effort and thus time.

There are also personal factors involved in the time it will take to switch careers.

Generally speaking the more you are willing to be flexible with both compensation and geography, the shorter time it will take to make the switch.

Final Thoughts

Changing careers at anytime can be stressful, but for those of us who are 50 or above, it can seem to be an overwhelming task fraught with pitfalls and self doubt.

Prospective employers know the benefits that come with more mature employees. Things like a wealth of experience, a proven work history and deeper understanding of corporate culture are all things that older workers bring to the table.

And while the younger generation may possess better computer or technical skills than us, if you’re willing to learn, there are a ton of free or nearly free resources available to you.

Deciding on a career change at 50 is a great way to experience life on your own terms.

More Tips for Career Change

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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