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3 Strategies to Avoid Career-Killing Behaviors & Mistakes

Categories: Personal Marketing

Often, it’s the new hires who need the most help navigating corporate politics and office dynamics – but not always. Even seasoned employees can have career-hurting missteps. Here’s a story of the former…

A colleague’s college-senior son – let’s call him James – had a prestigious summer internship at a fairly new marketing agency with an excellent reputation.

Since the company represented the exact type of place and job that he hoped to acquire after graduation, he was pretty excited. It had been implied that if things went well, James would be on a short list for employment the following spring when he graduated.

Unfortunately, things did not go well.

This agency had been trying to land a new, extremely large account for some months. They’d been working on the final proposal to send to this client, UPS, and it was finally ready, perfect in every word, number, and graphic. Staff members were already slapping each other on the back, in eager anticipation of closing the deal and the hefty bonuses to follow.

James was asked to send the final proposal by courier service. Infected by the enthusiasm of his colleagues, he rushed off with it and had it FedExed overnight. You read that right, he sent it via their biggest competitor and long-term rival.

Ouch. An innocent, thoughtless mistake on this intern’s part ruined his employer’s chances of landing this large new client. One small attention to detail missed in the hurry of a busy day. His agency didn’t get the account, nor did he get the job after graduation.

Here are three career success tips for new hires and interns hoping to land the ideal job (really anyone hoping to climb the corporate ladder):

1) Never assume that you know how anything is done. Ask as many questions as you need. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid. If this intern had simply said, “How do you want me to ship this?” everyone would have laughed, but provided the right answer – securing this new account.

2) Listen carefully to anything said to you or in your presence and take notes if possible. It doesn’t matter how great you think your memory is, taking notes about projects can help you complete them more efficiently (and impress your manager). Careful listening allows you to more quickly integrate into the company culture, and understand what’s going on and how you can best fit in and make a contribution.

3) Be on the lookout for ways you can contribute. After all, you were hired because your employers saw something in you, some potential. Look for ways to express that potential -- but make sure they are appropriate and not stepping on anyone else’s toes!

How did you land that ideal job? What worked – or didn’t? We’d love to hear your success stories or lessons learned along the way!

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