15 Biggest Career Mistakes

31 October 2020

Rarely Do We Realize the Impact Our Careers Have on Us and Our Lives. Here Are 15 Blunders to  Watch Out For.

Let’s just start by putting it out there that there is no such thing as a career path. It’s more like a career cha-cha, but where no one knows the exact moves but we’re all going along with it anyway.

One thing is for sure: if you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not progressing. Mistakes are going to happen; it is part of the process. What really matters is learning from them.

So we have put together a list of 15 of the biggest career mistakes, and how to avoid them. This way you can learn from them before they happen to you.

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Careers aside, the most common mistake an Aluxer makes is reading a long article when there’s a fun video ready to be played:

With that marked off, let’s learn about the first career mistake on the list.


Thinking There Is an Escalator to the Top

A career today is like a game of snakes and ladders. Just when you feel you’re getting ahead you get taken right back to square one and have to start over. Then one day you’re going along and a golden opportunity shoots you back up to a whole different level that you didn’t see coming. Climbing the corporate ladder is now more like a “jungle gym” in the words of CEO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg.

Progression isn’t always well-defined, and there isn’t just one clear list of titles to get to the top. You need to be willing to move sideways, maybe a little backwards, and when a door opens run through it like there is no tomorrow. It takes a little shimmy shimmy ah to the top nowadays.



Have you ever found yourself in a job and then you just start coasting? It’s great for your personal life, but it spells disaster for your career. It’s not enough to get comfortable with your job deliverables and plod along day in day out if you are looking to advance. You need to take control of your career future. It’s a competitive job market, and job relevancy is always changing.

Even if you do find your work easy and are delivering 100%, you should be using your spare energy to up skill and educate yourself. Ready yourself for your next position or be prepared for a shift in the job market.


Stuck in a Dead End Job and No Plan

Ranking far higher than salary and benefits these days is the opportunity for upward mobility or an opportunity to expand your career. If the role you are in has nowhere to go, then what are you doing? It might be time to move horizontally to another company that offers a lower salary but more opportunities to grow or move upwards.

Perhaps the reason you are stuck is that you don’t really know where you are going, it’s a common career mistake. Each successful career person had a plan, and sure it might not have all panned out, but knowing that they weren’t at the final destination yet is what keeps ambitious people advancing.

Your plan shouldn’t just be a trajectory for where you want to land up, but also a detailed plan on how you will get there. What exact steps do you need to take to move towards your goal. Perhaps you need to upgrade your degree. Or just take opportunities for training and conferences in your field keeping you up to date. Whatever it is, outline it in a plan because your future you, is worth it.

We have a video on transforming your passion to a business. But first, check out 15 Things to Consider Before Quitting Your Job and Starting Your Own Business.


Hating What You Do

We get that we all have financial obligations, but the need to work in a job you hate can’t cost you your mental health. The average person spends a third of their life at work. That’s far too long to be miserable.

Thinking that you are trapped is the farthest thing from the truth. Begin to make strategic moves to improve your situation. Perhaps you want to address the problem and improve the current situation. Maybe it is time to expand your side hustles, or it could just be time to move on.


Not Being in Control of Your Own Career Choices

We have all watched a hundred movies or soap operas with the same plot: Rich kid has to work in his parent’s successful business and resents it completely. Then he finds love, or dance or a moral conscience and stands up to his stiff upper lip dad and leaves. And they all live happily ever after.

You might not be trustafarian with scrooge for a dad, but sometimes family and friends can have a big influence on your career. Before you know it you’re nowhere near your dream come true.

Take a look at who you might be influenced by. Next time you have a decision to make, give yourself your own time and space to make it without their meddling. You have to live with the decisions every day, not them.

Trust yourself and your instinct. Stick around because there is more on instinct later.


Staying in Your Lane

There is no reason to think that you are stuck in a specific path for the rest of your life, it is a destructive career mistake. You don’t have to go back to school and get a whole different qualification to change industries, you can transition gradually.

Even if you love what you do you might have to upskill or re-skill. If you aren’t happy in the career you’re in, there is no reason to start moving lanes right away. Simply considering your move and starting to listen to podcasts on the topic will begin to help your mind manifest solutions to make your move.

If you have trouble keeping control of your mind, why not sign up for our MindMastery Course. Find it at alux.com/mindmastery


Not Dressing for Success       

First impressions count, and while we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, in business it is still part of the culture.

Having a well put together look that your colleagues and boss can rely on, will make you a first choice for opportunities to represent the company. And these are what will advance your career at the end of the day.

When you are interviewed, meeting with superiors or a new client, be sure your appearance is all that and more, it can make or break or break the success of the meeting.

Need more tips on how to dress the part, check out our 15 Ways to Put Together A Proper Wardrobe


Leaving Your Boss Out of the Loop

Your boss is not your mortal enemy when it comes to career advancement. In fact, if you leverage the relationship they could help you achieve the next stage of your career.

Build a good relationship with the superiors where you work. Look to them for advice and share with them where you aim to be in a year, 5 years and over your whole career life. Listen and heed their advice. Even if they aren’t your favourite person, they will have some advice to share whether good or bad, either way you can learn.

If you have a good boss, then the chances are they will be keen to see you succeed and help where they can.


Not Keeping up With the Changes in Your Market

The world is not fixed, it is constantly changing and evolving, just like your job market. Failure to keep up with the changing market will mean that you’re making a career mistake that will sooner or later keep you from delivering what is relevant and current in your field. It’s not good enough to get a degree and think that learning is over. Short courses in later practices, refresher classes and conferences all help you stay in touch with the broader picture in your industry, what the best practices are and where it is heading.

Don’t underestimate the value of joining regional business forums and subscribing to international newsletters to keep a localised as well as a global edge on the career market you’re in.


Not Knowing the Numbers That Count

Do you know how much you are worth to your company? Have you ever explored how they value and decide on salary packages? In most companies or industries there is a formula that is followed. X percent of the value of projects you will manage or bring in. Or perhaps it is based on an industry norm, or a scale of experience. Either way, it is good to be in the know of how you are remunerated so you can understand the maths.

Then it’s time to be frank with yourself: are you earning enough?

Firstly to maintain the lifestyle you want and need, within reason of course. And secondly are you being remunerated according to your value and skill level?

Based on these answers you will need to decide whether you need to up skill yourself to earn higher, or have you reached the cap of earning at the job you are in, or do you need to ask your boss for a raise. None of these tasks should scare you. All of these are a reasonable and normal part of navigating career advancement. If you add value then you should be remunerated. If you want more money you need to ensure you add value to cover that amount. It’s simple, don’t overthink it. Go in confident and make money moves.


Throwing Away the Key

It sounds good in theory to make a big gesture to let the job you’re leaving know what a pain in the ass they were. But what good will really come from it?

No matter how you leave a job, on good or bad terms, it’s better to try make nice before you leave. You never know if your current boss might show up later on as your senior again. Or one of your work colleagues could end up in a company you want to be hired at and tell the story of your malevolent exit.

Co-workers are a good group to stay firm with. At the end of the day it is more likely than not that your paths will cross again soon. And if not, it’s always nice to have friends in the same industry who understand what work throws at you.


Not Working Networking

I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did…you still need to network.

Underestimating the importance of connections is one of the worst career mistakes. Perhaps it doesn’t seem like an immediate fit, in this universe of energy conspiring for our benefit, you never know what will lead to something else.

In case you don’t know where or how to start, we made you a crash course in a video: Why is NETWORKING so important?


Missing Out on Mentorship

If you have your sights sets on a top job, and like most Aluxers you don’t plan on taking the long route there, then it is advisable that you get a mentor.

A mentor is such a valuable relationship to have. It also helps that you will have someone in a high position who can pull some strings to make things happen. But more importantly they are a good sounding board, can offer support and the right introductions for you to make big strides in your career.

Identify someone that you admire in your field that you know you can learn from. And then go about trying to get them to sign up to mentor you. We made a video about this too: 15 Reasons Why You Should Have a Mentor


Underestimating Your Intuition

A hunch, your inner voice, a gut feel, whatever you call your intuition, it’s best to heed the inner warning. Obviously only if what the voice is saying is rational, but we didn’t need to remind our sensible Alux fam of that, did we?

A healthy mix of reason and instinct will make sure that you are guided to better decision making that you will be able to live with. And this isn’t all mumbo-jumbo, this is tested by science. A study by the New Jersey Institute of Technology surveyed hundreds of business managers for intuitive abilities. Those with superior intuition were good decision makers. So driving with your intuition locked in the trunk, Aluxers, that’s a blinding career mistake.


Underemployed for Life

The job market is tough, so it’s not unusual to take a job in a good company, in a lower position than what you qualify or are skilled for.

But once you are in, it’s not time to settle in and forget your goal and start coasting. This is where having clear goals helps. Remind yourself often that this was just a way in. Make sure you are included in good projects, and try to be noticed by those who would be part of the team recruiting for the job you ideally want.

Take a combination of the advice from this article, like get a mentor, share your career goals with your boss, dress for success and network to make sure that this is just a steppingstone and not a full stop.


Aluxers, what is the biggest career mistake you have ever made? Share your experience with us.