What's Your Worst Career Move?

There was a time when I planned my career but then reality set in and I realised that life was really a series of opportunities and that what I should really focus on was making good decisions to take on jobs that were either a step forward in terms of experience or enjoyment, or that I saw as a stepping stone towards something I wanted to do. But it's easy to make mistakes. CIO magazine has listed their top 20 "career killers". What are yours?

CIO says burning bridges, not understanding the business and staying in your comfort zone can be problems. I also think misreading the office politics and not taking the time to understand how the people around you like to work is a big deal. This might be more subtle but if you don't get how your line manager or peers operate, then you're likely to piss them off and gain a reputation for being hard to work with.

My biggest challenge was being a fairly extroverted person who worked in a conservative, engineering-led company. While that was a good thing - businesses don't need a team of people who think about things in the same way - I don't think I was sensitive enough to the needs of those around me. That created tension and was, ultimately, a key reason I felt the need to move on from that organisation.

At this time of year, many of us are looking for what our next opportunity will be. What career killers have you seen and how can they be avoided?


    Turned down a middle-management role because it was twice the work for the same money I was already getting. Upper management decided I wasn't a 'go-getter' and never offered any more promotions after that. Others who were less qualified, less experienced and not great communicators were promoted ahead of me; all because of one bad decision.

    Honestly, just staying in a job too long.

    It took me a while to realise that unless you’ve made it to your chosen career, and are happy in role, position and pay you should not stay in a role, or really a company much more than 2-3 years. I once spent 6-8 months chasing the carrot of promotion, then realised it would be far better to me to seek that promotion elsewhere, and sure enough it was much easier too. At the end of the day we now live in a time when more and more companies would rather buy talent than train it. If you come into a role from outside you’ll also likely get more pay than if you were promoted internally, and there’s the classic being too good at your current job can make you unattractive to promote in an internal situation.

    We don’t like applying for jobs and changing companies. We do like trying to get promoted. Companies play on that; you rarely get much out of the carrot-race they create around getting a promotion, but they can get their employees to work longer, work harder, etc. generally best advice nowadays is to work as hard as you can, get a good reputation, and move often. It’s very rarely a bad thing to have lots of employers on your resume unless they ended badly.

    Thinking I had enough money and taking early retirement immediately before the Global Financial Crisis.
    Moral: You *never* have enough money to retire.

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