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Business

7 ways you could be sabotaging your career
It takes more than a good education to get ahead
 
Published Thursday, October 31, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

Today’s job market is far more competitive than it was just a few years ago. In just four years, business experts estimate that the number of candidates applying for the same position has doubled.

Certified business coach Harvey Smith said that in such a saturated job market, applicants must go above and beyond having a college degree and an impeccable resume to stand out from the competition.

“Being competent is just the base level of what’s acceptable,” he said. “It’s not enough to be successful.”

Smith, who owns and operates Carolina Business Coach with his wife Laurie, has coached hundreds of high-level executives, entrepreneurs and other individuals looking to advance their careers. Based on his experience, Smith said many people make the mistake of focusing on their technical skills when it’s actually their attitude or habits that hold them back from success.

Here are seven ways he said you could be sabotaging your career and preventing yourself from getting ahead on the job or in business:

1. You are good

“In this job market, being good is no longer good enough,” said Smith. “It’s about being exceptional.”

Smith, who is often contracts with businesses to assist with hiring, employee retention and leadership development, said many of his clients have said they are not looking for candidates who are just competent and able to fulfill their job descriptions. “Because you are up against so much competition, the bar has been raised,” he said. “They are not looking for you to just be competent, they are looking for you to be able to do that job in an exceptional manner.”

His advice is to strive to exceed expectations in whatever position you currently hold – whether it’s considered big or small.

2. You talk too much

We all want to be heard, but Smith said there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. “It’s because you should spend more time listening,” he said. “When we stop thinking about what we are going to say and focus on what the other person is saying, we pick up on so much more… Too often we focus on being right that we miss out what is really important."

He adds that excessive talking is not necessarily verbal. His advice is to also use caution when posting your thoughts online or venting in emails. “You may think that no one is hearing or seeing what you write, but in reality there are no secrets anymore,” he said.

3. You follow the golden rule

Many of us have been taught to live by the mantra to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” However, Smith believes in living by what he calls the platinum rule: “Do unto others as they would want to be done unto.” In other words, don’t always assume that everyone thinks like you think. “We all see the world through our lens,” he said. “We expect everyone to see what we see.”

Smith’s advice is to remember that we are all different with unique personalities. What may not offend you could infuriate them. What may not be a big deal to them could seem like the end of the world to you.

He coaches clients to pick up on a person’s personality type based on verbal and nonverbal cues and then tailor their response to accommodate that personality type. Smith said it’s not a matter of being ingenuous but a matter of learning to adapt to your environment in a way that is more likely to elicit the desired response. If your method of delivery is not getting you the desired results, it may be time to tweak it a bit.

4. You show up late

Not being on time is rude. It shows the other person that you have no respect for their time when you expect them to spend it waiting on you.

Smith’s advice is to commit to doing whatever it takes to be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. That may mean getting up an hour earlier or improving your organization skills so you don’t waste time looking around for things.

5. You don’t dress the part

In a perfect world, we’d be judged on our abilities and not our looks. But in the real world, that’s not the case. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but whether we like it or not, everyone judges someone within the first two or three minutes of meeting them,” said Smith. “People judge you based on how you show up.”

His advice is to never waste an opportunity to make a great first impression because you will never get a second chance. He believes you should always present an image of your vision of yourself at your best.   

6. You have the wrong mindset

“Most people go into work everyday with some type of trepidation of all the things that they don’t want to do,” said Smith. “Instead of focusing on the things that give us joy or on what we are good at, we spend much more time focusing on those one or two things that may be issues happening at work.”

Whether it’s an annoying co-worker, overloaded work schedule or a troubling situation at home (which should never interfere with work), having a bad attitude and focusing on the negative will only make matters worse.

Smith’s advice is to make a conscious effort to focus on the positive. Take inventory of what you do well, the things that you find enjoyable or that give you a boost of inspiration. As for the bad, Smith suggests figuring out what drains your energy or zaps your motivation. Then, determine if there are changes you can make to be more productive in your environment or if it’s time to move on.

7. You downplay your strengths

As children, we are often taught not to boast or think too highly of our skills and abilities. However, Smith said there comes a time when there must be a shift in thinking.

“We were told stay in the corner and that children should be seen and not heard,” said Smith. “As adults we need to find our voice… We reach a stage in our life where we need to be our own best advocate.”

When it comes to going on interviews or prospecting for new clients, Smith’s advice is to take it a step further. Don’t just identify your strengths, but be ready to share ways you have utilized those skills in the past. For example, don’t just mention you work well with others. Share a story of a time when you used your people skills to succeed in handling a difficult situation.

On the net:

www.CarolinaBusinessCoach.com

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