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How to Avoid Career Suicide

  Oct 23, 2015

By Biko Rading

Imagine yourself spending years trying to earn your degree of choice. And once you get that qualification, you spend many more years working tirelessly to make a name for yourself in your desired industry, progressing your career and building your professional reputation.

However, it can take just one mistake to damage that reputation if you’re not careful and years to repair it.

I spent time with Paul Ouma, a lecturer from Strathmore Business School and an independent career expert who shared some of the career mistakes most of us make.

Here are the five key reputation-damaging mistakes that one should avoid:

  1. Lying

Whether it is about the qualifications you have, sickness, or cover up for a mistake, a lie is a lie and no matter how big or small, lying will have devastating consequences on your reputation.

Being discovered – as you are very likely to be – will land you at a professional point of almost no return, and could take a lifetime to rectify.

Play it safe by being open and honest, and build your career the tough, but sustainable way.

  1. Missing deadlines

Missing deadlines is not only unprofessional, but also the fastest way to lose respect among your colleagues and managers – it could cost you a job in the future.

Being known for meeting deadlines and high quality work is highly valued in the workplace particularly in today’s challenging economy where the competition is stiff.

  1. Recommending someone for a job you are not entirely sure they are qualified for

Recommending a person for a job can be extremely risky and cause serious damage to your reputation if you’re not 100% certain of whether they have the adequate capabilities to excel at the job.

If you recommend a person and they are not able to deliver on expectations, it will reflect badly on you and could bring your judgment of character into question.

  1. Being the office gossip

Gossiping at work will cost you time you should be dedicating to performing your job. It also sends management the impression that you’re an employee who can’t be trusted with confidential information and you’re not busy enough because “busy professionals simply don’t have time to gossip.”

Negative gossip creates the most damage in a workplace; it not only involves reports about other people that may or may not be true, but also has intent to harm that person’s professional or personal reputation.

  1. Leaving your job on bad terms

If your exit from a company has not been the friendliest, resist the urge to tell your boss or colleagues exactly what you think of them or the company. Save that for your partner.

Answer the questions posed as honestly as possible, but try not to bring anger into your answers to avoid burning bridges.

When exiting, do not make it a dramatic exit whether verbal for instance swearing or action-based like slamming doors or throwing objects across a room.

It’s very difficult to get another job when you have left destruction in your career path.


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