Unfortunately, a career that you have painstakingly built-up over years of hard work and professionalism can be wrecked in the blink of an unthinking eye. Here's a look at five common workplace blunders that can derail your career -- and hurt all of your future chances of getting hired.
Not all dishonesty at work has to involve theft or fraud. Even what you might think of as a white lie is still a lie. If you tell your boss that you have to miss Friday's meeting because you're going to a funeral, and it comes out that you were really playing golf - your relationship is going to take a hit. Work relations are built on trust. People come to depend on each other - and no one likes to put their faith in someone who lies to them.
Once trust is broken, it can be nearly impossible to win back. Don't earn the reputation of being deceitful. If you really want the day off to play golf, earn it. Most employers respect extra hours worked to bring a project in on time, and offer lieu time off in exchange.
Sending emails when angry
Don't take it personally. In any job, disagreements are going to happen. Competing priorities, misunderstandings, personality clashes can lead to heated moments. When we're upset, sometimes nothing feels so good as to fire off an angry email blasting other person and explaining why we're right.
Never do that. Losing your temper is losing. If you need to write out your rant, do it in a Word document so there's no temptation to hit 'Send.' Save it, and come back and read it later. You'll be glad you did.
We don't make sound decisions when we're emotional. And sending the angry email just creates a paper trail of you not being at your best. You don't need your temper tantrums to be on file with HR. And while one angry email may not sink your job - creating a file folder of angry exchanges will definitely limit your chances of getting ahead.
Walk away from a conflict until you're no longer feeling angry, and then try to address the situation in person. Email exchanges can often exacerbate disagreements and misunderstandings. It's often best to just talk it out.
Getting drunk at professional functions
A work party is more work than party. It may look social, with the lights dimmed, the hors d'oeuvres, and the alcohol, but it is really a professional event. Show up, mingle with people outside your own clique, and thank the boss and organizer for arranging it. You don't want to be the guy (or gal) who drinks too much, goes into a rant about their boss or coworkers, gropes a colleague, or photocopies their own behind.
It's a scientific fact that alcohol hits you harder at work functions. This only increases the risk that you can damage the professional reputation you've spent all year cultivating in a single night. Just because you don't remember it the next day doesn't mean that others will be as quick to forget.
Anti-Social behaviour on social media
Social media is more media than it is social. Anything you publish has the potential to be broadcast to unforeseen audiences. Even if you have strict privacy settings, it is possible for someone inside your network to copy and share photos or posts.
Employers will Google you and look you up on social media sites. (Here's what they're looking for.) People have lost their jobs for sharing internal company information on their LinkedIn profile, for ranting about their boss or job on Facebook, and for tweeting complaints about customers.
Everyone knows about the importance of making positive first impressions when trying to land a job. Think about how much longer the last impression you make is going to stick with someone.
We all have things that we like more than others about our jobs - and people we prefer over others. Still, even when you're leaving a job for good - it's not a good idea to rant about it.
Telling off your boss, complaining about coworkers, or putting down the company will only reflect poorly on you. Do you want people to remember you as angry, bitter, complaining, or unprofessional? Or would you prefer to leave behind the impression that you left with class and integrity and on good terms.
You want to leave people with the feeling that they would look forward to the opportunity to work with you again.
This builds your professional network and it gives you the valuable references you will need at future jobs.
If there is no one out there who will speak highly of your work and recommend you for a job, your career is going to be in trouble. An exit interview is still more interview than it is exit.
The scary fact is that any of these bad career moves can be really easy to do in a moment of thoughtlessness. And they can all damage your professional reputation in ways that put your current job at risk and make finding future employment that much harder. The good news is that they can be avoided by taking a moment to think strategically before you act and keeping emotions out of your work interactions.