Daily Archives: July 20, 2011

Common Mistakes Young Professionals Make and How to Avoid Them

CommonMistakes_July2011_web Barely a month ago, graduations took place across the country. Résumé and cover letters were sent out, jobs were landed, and now young professionals are entering the workplace for the first time. If you’re a new employee or know someone who is, it’s important to remember your first impression and work ethic can make or break your climb up the corporate ladder.

With the current economy, distinguishing yourself from the masses can be that added edge you need to find success. While it is important to standout, you don’t want it to be for the wrong reasons, like making some career rookie mistakes like these.

The Know It All
Yes. You may have spent the past four years in college preparing for your exact job. Maybe you’ve even had a few internships as well. That doesn’t necessarily mean you know everything there is to know about your field. Experience has to be earned, it’s not taught at school. So be open to learning through new projects and taking advice.

To avoid this hazard, you must know one thing – you don’t know it all. You may have some great ideas and out of the box thinking, so don’t be afraid to share them. But don’t approach every problem as if you have the only solution. Finding the appropriate approach is key.

The Rulebreaker
Young professionals have the unfortunate label of rule breakers. Whether or not the title is deserved, do not give credence to it. Follow the rules to a T and you can reinforce your credibility and show you have respect for the regulations. Do not waltz in 15 minutes late everyday, be punctual or better yet early instead. Stick to your company dress code and dress for the job you want. Bending small rules just isn’t worth it in the long run and there are better ways you can ensure your success.

The “InstaLeader”
While you now have the opportunity to contribute to your team, avoid trying to become head honcho on day one. When entering a new workplace, you want to come in and hit the ground running with your best effort. Don’t come in and try to take over. Instead, be supportive on team projects. Keep in mind that you are no longer striving for A’s on report cards, but actual professional success. Sometimes bringing your “A” game means earning respect, following instructions, deferring to others, and effectively work within a team.

The Twitter Screw-up
The popularity of social networking is skyrocketing. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the new Google+ offer plenty of options to stay connected. While it can be a fun and easy way to stay connected, it’s hard to know exactly who is reading. To limit access to your profiles, you may consider not befriending or connecting with certain people on some sites, and select strict privacy setting to maintain control of your online reputation. You may want to err on the side of caution with your personal online content to prevent it from creating a negative impact on your professional life.

For social sites designed for professional networking, such as LinkedIn, always check for typos as you would with your résumé and make sure your content is an honest and accurate representation of your work history. Glaring mistakes or inconsistencies can hurt your credibility.

The New Guy
Mistakes are bound to happen as you enter your career and can even be part of a good learning process at times. The good news is that very few of them are career-enders. Your professional development depends on how you learn from them and move past them. Just remember to maintain a positive outlook when these bumps come along. And accept responsibility for your mistakes, admitting you are new and still learning.

It may seem like there is a lot to keep in mind when planning a successful career, but to avoid burning bridges and ensure a successful future, it is work well worth it.