Resource Centre Career Development 12 Deadliest Career Pitfalls to Avoid Like Plague

12 Deadliest Career Pitfalls to Avoid Like Plague

career pitfalls

Most people live in fear of making career mistakes and ruining their chances to a great career. This is completely understandable. However, you should know that mistakes are normal and part of learning and most mistakes rarely leave a permanent mark anyway.

The career mistakes that should worry you are the seemingly subtle and hard-to-notice ones that burrow into your character and ultimately affect your employability. Here are 12 of the worst career pitfalls you should avoid.


The greatest disservice you could ever do to yourself is thinking and feeling that you have achieved all you need to achieve and are now just basking in the glory of your achievements forever. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career journey, never settle and feel like you don’t need more growth. Strive to learn something new each day and grow. 

Stay hungry, stay foolish. 

Over-promising and Under-delivering

The opposite of complacency is over-promising and under-delivering. You might set your goals and aspirations extremely high and get disappointed. People will always expect you to deliver on your promises and when you don’t they might write you off. Be careful not to over-promise but learn to manage the expectations of people you interact with.

Losing Sight of the Bigger Picture

What was you initial career dream? Where did you envision yourself today five years ago? Where are you today? Be careful not to get lost in the everyday bustle and lose sight of your initial career dreams and aspirations. If you always wanted to work in a certain department industry and are not yet there, use what you have now and where you are now to get you there. Work every day towards your career dreams. 

Sitting on Your Skills Till they Become Obsolete

In the ever-changing world of technology and changing trends, time and tide will not wait for you. If you don’t gain new skills constantly, you are going to become obsolete or average real quick. There is a lot of competition in the average corner because people there all look alike with the same qualifications and skills, fighting for the same opportunities. The skills you gain here and there elevate you and make you stand out. Take classes, network and stay abreast with what is hot in your industry. 

Job hopping

Grass is not always greener. The habit of always checking out other companies and industries thinking that they are more exciting or they pay better will hurt your career. There is absolutely nothing wrong with changing jobs, but you cannot be on a constant job search mode all year. When will you actually settle and learn your job enough to grow in the role? Be strategic when looking for another job and ensure you go to a better company. Do your homework and find out all the pros and cons then make a decision.   

Second-Guessing Yourself

Confidence is key and self-confidence is crucial for any undertaking in your life. This is not just about your career journey, but all the spheres of your life. You need to believe in yourself to excel and perform as expected. People won’t believe in you if you don’t. Whatever esteem issues you might have, start working on them to increase your confidence level. 

Burning Bridges

It’s easy to let emotions take over whenever you have an issue with someone. Remember to act professional an keep your calm. You never know the future and what could happen later. The professional world is so small and people meet in different avenues. The secret is to be professional in all circumstances even those that tempt you to act irrationally.   

Wasting Time 

Time is a precious resource. Unfortunately, time is also the most misused resource. When it comes to your career, how you spend your time makes the difference between a stagnant career and growing one. It is easy to get caught up in being a busy body, spending your energy on things that don’t bring you much value. Be strategic in how you spend your time and energy. Learn to work smart and always ask yourself how something is helping your career grow. 

Overestimating or Underestimating Yourself

Overestimation comes from overconfidence and arrogance. Underestimation comes from lack of awareness and low self-confidence. Both are harmful to your career and your personal life as well. Take an objective look at your strengths and weaknesses and understand your opportunities and risks in your area of expertise. Self awareness equals understanding your worth. Do not be afraid to show that you know your worth and to ask that you be treated as such where promotions and raise are concerned.

Ignoring Your Gut

Your intuition is your sixth sense. Learn to listen to it and to follow it. Most of the time, you already know the decision to make and the way to go. Your mind is the one that needs convincing. Learn to trust your instincts. Ignoring your gut mean cutting yourself from your own oasis of creativity and innovation.

Seeing the Glass Half Empty

Most organizational cultures encourage positive thinking. This doesn’t mean that you don’t speak up when you see things going wrong. It means don’t be the one who always sees why certain strategies or projects will fail. Come up with solutions or alternatives that will work. 

Thinking Your Job Will Last Forever

Any job can come to an end anytime. It might not have to do with your performance. There are a whole lot other reasons why companies shut down. Therefore, do not sit there, get comfortable and relax. Always have a contingency. Work on improving your skills to remain relevant in your industry.

Keep your career tuned up and moving forward, and live your work life  free of regret.

Doreen Mueke
Doreen is the Senior Content Marketer at Ringier One Africa Media.
Notification Bell