Banish these behav.iors to make 2017 the year you finally move up the ladder
1. YOUR EMAIL ETIQUETTE SUCKS.
Think an emoticon-filled message is the only email mistake you can make? A terse message can be just as bad, says career expert J.T. O’Donnell, founder and CEO of Work It Daily.
Emails that get right to the point—say, without a salutation like “hi” or “hello”— and jump right to a demand can rub your coworkers the wrong way. Even though you may have just been trying to be concise, you actually come off as an a-hole—or, at the very least, apathetic. “It comes across as a lack of trying or effort,” O’Donnell says.
Plus, it might show that you don’t feel a connection to your employer, in which case, why should that employer invest in you? So make sure to add just enough pleasantries in your exchange to make it seem like you care about the person. Always include a greeting, and remember your “pleases” and “thank yous,” she says.
2. YOU SKIP HAPPY HOUR.
Very few people actually enjoy those happy hour meet-and-greets, but forming connections within your industry are crucial to your career. That way, not only do you stay on top of your industry’s curve, but you also can take note of what other people in your industry are doing so you don’t get passed by.
“People forget that they need to continue networking when they have a job,” says career expert Abby Kohut, president of career site Absolutely Abby.
If you’re not networking while employed, when you quit—or lose—your current role, you’ll have to start over from scratch. So keep up your networking by joining at least one professional association and going to an event once a month. And if your current company offers training opportunities or internal happy hours, hit them up, too.
3. YOU DON’T BOTHER WITH LINKEDIN.
You don’t have to be in the 500+ connections range, but your profile does need to be complete. Adding only job titles and skipping on descriptions may remove you as an option for headhunters, says Kohut.
That’s because recruiters search by keywords, and there are too many people out there with the same title for titles alone to work. The fuller your profile is, the more likely you are to pop up on a recruiter’s search—and for he or she to reach out to you.
And even if you’re happy in your current role, make an effort to regularly post status updates and keep your skills up-to-date. Who knows when the next great offer will come along?
“That can’t happen if you’re internally well-known, but nobody else knows you,” says Morgan.
4. YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SET GOALS.
You don’t necessarily need to have your whole trajectory mapped out, but you should be able to describe what you want your next step to be. “Nobody wants to hire someone who’s coasting,” says O’Donnell.
Figure out where you want to be, and then determine what you need to hone to get yourself there. Focus on smaller goals first that are tied to the position you want to achieve, like learning a new skill or expanding your experience in a certain area.
Even if you’re not sure which position you want to work toward, finding new skills to learn is a helpful way to broaden your resume overall. Plus, when a superior asks about your plan, you’ll have an immediate response of how you’re trying to grow as an employee.
5. YOU LET OFF STEAM WITH YOUR COWORKERS.
A persistent negative attitude or constant complaining can spill into your professional life and seriously hold you back. You might think your coworkers have your back, but it’s possible that any of the criticisms—or rants—you spill to them might be making their way to the source.
“Make sure you’re not burning bridges,” says Kohut. “The world is so small, and the industry that you’re in is probably very small. You have to be nice to everybody.”
If all you do is groan and complain, managers won’t be interested in getting you into their department, so promotion opportunities might be fewer. Plus, if you complain to the wrong person, it could cost you your reputation—or job.
So next time your boss sends you off the rails, wait to vent until you get home. And if your coworkers are starting a rant, resist the urge to join in. Or better yet, try offering up a solution for what they’re complaining about.
6. YOU LEAVE JUNK IN YOUR CAR.
Seriously: Even if it’s stowed in the parking lot, your messy car still might be sending some not-so-desirable signals. Some hiring managers will walk candidates out to their cars at the end of the interview just to see how they keep their wheels, says Kohut.
“If the inside of your car is messy, they won’t hire you,” says Kohut. “It gives a bad impression.”
It could mean you’re not well organized in your personal life, which means you probably won’t be organized in your job, either. Same goes for your desk. “People just assume that if your desk is messy, your head is messy,” says Kohut.
So give the inside of your car a once-over before your next interview, and if you have a job, keep your desk organized—those papers strewn everywhere are sending the wrong message.
7. YOU THINK YOUR BOSS IS YOUR TICKET UP.
You get along great with your boss, but if you think the big guy is going to shoot you up to the next level, think again. “It’s not our boss’ job to take care of us,” says Morgan. “It’s to run the business. We’re all dispensible.”
You might think your boss is keeping a mental tally of all the great stuff you’re doing, but chances are, he’s more focused on the bottom line than moving you up.
So you need to be your own advocate, which you can work on by getting to know the higher ups in the company. “The idea is to initiate short, casual conversations with people you want to meet,” says Morgan.
You can start by making small talk when you bump into them in the cafeteria, or by striking up a conversation if you both go to the company gym. And start attending company events, which are surefire ways to run into them.
8. YOU’RE DOING YOUR JOB.
It’s not that you’re not doing your job — it’s that you’re doing just your job and that’s it. If you’re not taking on a challenge every now and then or stepping up to the plate when things go crazy, your employer will notice.
“Look for ways to take on challenges at work no one else wants,” says career expert and social media strategist Miriam Salpeter. “If you succeed, you’ll be a hero and gain a reputation as a go-to problem solver.”
Plus, if you’re doing only what’s asked of you, that could come off as passive aggressive, especially if you know more needs to be done. “You should be anticipating and seeing things that need to be fixed and fixing them,” says O’Donnell.
Start branching out and volunteering to go the extra mile. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay later or work weekends to do so—you can still find ways to fit it into your regular hours.
9. YOU NEVER TAKE YOUR VACATION DAYS.
If you’re in the office 24/7, you could start burning out, which is a fast-pass to a subpar performance. That’s where your vacation days come in: Companies give them to you so you can get some much-needed rest and come back recharged.
And if you don’t take them, your boss might think you’re trying to upstage him or her. Still, lots of guys let theirs go to waste.
“The primary reason I find people don’t take vacation is that they don’t plan it,” says career expert Cali Yost, founder of Work+Life Fit. “So plan well in advance, and then take them.”
Just make sure everyone’s clear about what’ll happen when you’re gone. Let them know if you won’t be checking email beforehand—and stick to it. Otherwise, if your boss emails you on vacation and you email back, he or she might get the idea that they can reach out whenever.
“Clarify that up front,” says Yost.
10. YOU DON’T HAVE A SIDE HUSTLE.
Having another income can save you if your job goes under—or give you tech and marketing skills that can help you advance in your job or get another one.
If you’re torn about what to do, think about what your interests are and what you do well, says Morgan. If a friend has asked you to help get them in shape, go for your personal trainer certification and offer training services. Or, find freelance work at sites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru.
And you don’t need to go crazy with it, either. Just devoting even a few hours a week to it can be beneficial, says Morgan.