With hiring on hold for now and employers increasingly wary of whether another economic slowdown is in store, employees should be extra cautious to avoid committing anything that may damage your career.
For the past few years, a spurt in hiring and business at the beginning of the year has been followed by a slowdown and cutbacks.
“Employees should be cautious of committing any ‘career killers’ in this uncertain business climate. The list of items that could potentially harm one’s career has been steadily expanding along with technological innovations in our inter-connected world,” said Patty Prosser, chair of OI Global Partners, a leading outplacement and executive coaching firm. “While some of these mistakes may not totally wreck your career, they certainly can derail your employment at your current job.”
OI Global Partners has compiled a list of career killers for employees to avoid:
- Clock watching. This includes stopping work before your proper quitting time and intentionally working at a slow pace to avoid more work. “This behavior sends a message that you feel you are on your own time after work and you don’t want to be bothered by telephone calls or emails after quitting time. It is increasingly risky to do this and not become branded a ‘9 to 5 employee’ who can’t or won’t handle responsibility well,” said Prosser.
- Sitting on your hands. Employees who do this fail to report problems they are aware of or suggest solutions to them.
- Disclosing confidential information. This conduct comprises offering privileged information to a potential employer during an interview, posting it to social media and with friends or co-workers. This behavior may in fact be illegal and carry civil or monetary penalties.
- Using social media to bad-mouth employers. “There is a growing list of employees who have been terminated for posting negative comments about their companies, bosses or co-workers. Some job-seekers have also been posting negative comments about organizations they have interviewed with and recruiters who have called them,” said Prosser.
- Inappropriate social media presence. “Another issue related to social media is the posting of pictures showing unprofessional behavior. Employees have been fired over such things as posting photos of them drinking alcohol or suggestive pictures from different events they attend. As a general rule of thumb, your reputation is always at stake,” added Prosser.
- Using employer’s email or cell phone to search for another job. Many employers monitor employees’ email for appropriateness and also to learn whether they are looking for other jobs. Records of calls made on an employer’s cell phone are their property and subject to review.
- Stealing time. Surfing the Internet on personal business while at work, texting or social media posting instead of doing your job and working on your own business or someone else’s on company time, particularly when telecommuting, can all be viewed as stealing time and could give rise to a termination for cause.
- Inaccurate or incomplete reports. This includes failure to do a thorough job, requiring your boss to invest time to correct or complete it or ask another staff member to redo your work.
- Treating a job like a job. “Employees need to treat their jobs as if they are their own family business. People who treat a job as just a job are unwilling to put in any extra time or effort that they feel they are not being paid for,” said Prosser.
- Negative attitude. Projecting a negative attitude can permeate an organization, lower morale and adversely impact the bottom line.
- Disagreeing with the boss in public or going over your boss’ head. Disagree with your boss in private but support him or her publicly. Work out any issues with your supervisor and turn to outside help only in rare cases.
- Inflating your resume. Some executives have run into trouble because they misstated their educational backgrounds or invented degrees. In addition, don’t claim to have had a bigger role with a past employer than in reality.
- Discussing salaries. Many employers consider their employees’ salaries to be confidential information and deem such discussions to be a sign of job dissatisfaction, jealousy or envy.