Stop Repeating the Same Career Mistake

Woman drops ice cream

Groundhog Day is here and in honor of our favorite fictional weatherman, Phil Connors, we asked you to share stories of career mistakes that feel as though they’re happening on a loop, as well as your sage advice on how to avoid common and not-so-common professional pitfalls.

Here are some first-hand-accounts and tips from anonymous members of the Idealist Careers community on how to avoid letting your career fall into a Punxatawneyan cycle of cold showers, pot holes, and Needlenose Ned Ryerson.

Phil Connors Says No

Career Mistake #1: I forget that my employer isn’t doing me a favor

I get so excited and starry eyed when I get a job, thinking, “They picked me?!” I’m always so thrilled to get the job that I forget that I’m an asset to my future employer and not the other way around.

“I forget that I’m an asset to my future employer, and not the other way around.”

The Fix:

For me, it’s about reminding myself—especially after I get an offer—that nobody is doing me a favor. I was offered this job for a reason. Sure, I want to show my employer that they made the right choice, but I don’t want to give them the impression that I’m not confident or capable.

Career Mistake #2: I never negotiate

I never negotiate and I feel like working in the nonprofit sector compounds the issue. I’ve managed to convince myself that in the cash-strapped sector, negotiating will always be a fruitless endeavor.

The Fix:

I now realize that it’s rare for an employer to like you enough to extend an offer, and then recoil at the first sign of attempted negotiation. That alone should embolden us all!

I have also made it a habit to visit Guidestar and check out a nonprofit’s Form 990 before I apply for a job. A Form 990 includes salaries for the highest-paid employees as well as other budget information for any licensed 501(c)3. This info may shed some light on how flexible an organization can afford to be if you choose to negotiate your salary. If it seems that the salary is more or less written in stone, consider what else you may be able to negotiate.

Career Mistake #3: I don’t give myself a break

I keep making the mistake of not taking the time that I feel I need and deserve between jobs.

The Fix:

Sure, you can make a strong case for your ideal start date with the new employer—which I definitely encourage—but there are important steps that I try to remind myself to take with my soon-to-be former employer, too.

“I leave behind as little unfinished business as possible without offering an unnecessarily long transition period.”

As I’m preparing to accept an offer, I’ll start getting everything in order at the current job even before submitting my resignation letter. This gives me a head start on ensuring that I leave behind as little unfinished business as possible without feeling inclined to give my current employer an unnecessarily long transition period. In the end, this translates to more time to recharge between jobs!


Is there a career mistake that you’ve made more than once? Share it here. Don’t be shy, but do watch out for that first step, it’s a DOOOZY!

Watch out for that first step, it's a doozty!
Tags: , , ,

Related Posts

As a seasoned communications professional with 15 years of nonprofit experience and 6 years of experience creating engaging content and copy, I love the idea that a thoughtfully crafted piece of content can spark social change. Here at Idealist Careers, I'm eager to offer job seekers, game changers, and do-gooders actionable tips, career resources, and "social-impact lifestyle" advice.
3 Ways to Land the Job Even If You Lack Some Qualifications 4 Common Interview Missteps and Their Fixes


    • Lynne
    • February 2, 2017

    I have decided that I no longer want to waste time in interviews where the position would not result in fulfillment or advancement. When a nursery school says ” Miss Sue has been the director of School X for 15 years ” do not expect that you will go from teacher to lead, to assistant director very quickly. If you are not interested in waiting to move up in your career, look elsewhere.

      • Alexis Margolin
      • February 2, 2017

      Thanks, Lynne! Interesting example. Wondering if you have a set of questions that you ask while interviewing in order to determine whether there is room for personal and professional growth that you’re hoping for. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that while low turnover of leadership may signal little room for upward mobility, it may also signal that a dedicated and experienced team of potential mentors await.

        • Lynne,
        • February 2, 2017

        Every time I interview I ask how many children with disabilities are enrolled, I usually get the response ‘” we have very few”. I take this to mean, “they do not belong here”. Or that the director is afraid that a disabled child (or adult, me) would scare off potential clients. I also interviewed at a place by the assistant director because the director was on ” Medical Leave”. The word “maternity” was not used. The following week, both the assistant director and director positions were being advertized. These are not places that I consider having a dedicated staff. From my previous experiences, the teachers, aides and lead teachers usually stay in their positions for 5 or more years without moving. New “part-time” teachers do not stay long. Not enough hours. At 48 years old, with 30 years of taking care of children in my pocket (including my own son) I no longer want “entry-level, part-time” (aka low-paying)jobs!

  1. Pingback: How to Leave a Job on Good Terms | Part 1 – Recruitology Careers Blog

Comments are closed.