7 Scary Career Mistakes You’ll Regret

By Chelsea Babin

Some career mistakes are easy to bounce back from but others may haunt you for years to come. Want to make sure the ghosts of your career mistakes don’t haunt you? Avoid these 7 common, scary career mistakes you’re sure to regret.

1. Accepting a Counter Offer: You’ve got a job offer from a great company that clearly values you and, when you let your current employer know, they immediately offer you a counter offer that either matches or exceeds the salary at the new position. What do you do? Unless you want to be haunted by your career mistake, you immediately turn down that counter offer and make your two weeks notice permanent. Otherwise, you will be stuck at a company that only values you when you threaten to jump ship. And that relationship is tarnished, you can expect them to replace you in less than a year on average and you’ll be back to searching for a new job, regretting the opportunity you missed out on in favor of your counter offer.

2. Accepting a Job Despite Red Flags During the Interview Process: If you really value work-life balance and you notice hiring managers mentioning a lot of late nights, early mornings, working weekends, and overtime it’s a red flag. If you value the opportunity to use the latest technologies but, during the interview, all of the projects they describe use antiquated tech or focus on legacy system, it’s a red flag. One of the biggest career mistakes you can make is to ignore these red flags and accept a job that’s totally wrong for you. You’ll be miserable, they might not be happy with your performance, and everyone involved would have been better off by moving on to the next opportunity instead of accepting this one.

3. Ignoring Your 401k When the Company Offers a Match: You may not feel the scary impacts of this mistake right away, but you will eventually. Ignoring your 401k and not contributing any percentage of your salary is a mistake if you ever want to retire, but it’s an especially scary misstep when the company you work for offers a match. This is kind of like leaving a part of your compensation, or free money, sitting on the table.

4. Letting Your Skill Set Grow Stagnant: In any career—particularly in technical careers—letting your skill set grow stagnant is the kiss of death. You need to continuously learn, grow, and expand unless you want to stay in the same position, never make more money, and potentially be phased out once technology changes.

5. Burning Bridges Instead of Growing Your Network: When you leave a job, it’s a good idea to leave on good terms with everyone instead of burning bridges. This is a chance to expand your professional network but, if you leave people hanging or exit in a negative way, you can cross all of your coworkers and bosses off of your list of potential references. When you’re looking for a new job in the future, one or more of these people may be working at companies you’d like to get into. And, if they were a part of your professional network, you could reach out and see if they could lend a helping hand. But, if you burn those bridges, there’s no crossing back over and your future job searches will be just as challenging or potentially more challenging than your current one.

6. Not Proofreading Your Resume Before Sending it: Why knock yourself out of the running for a great job over a few spelling, grammar, or layout consistency mistakes? Hiring managers who get a lot of resumes each day will often ignore the ones with mistakes because they make you look unreliable, unable to pay attention to detail, and like you’re not taking the opportunity seriously. This is a mistake that will definitely haunt you and could slow your job search to a crawl.

7. Staying in a Dead End Job for Too Long: Not every position at a company has room for growth or promotions. While these jobs can sometimes have great value in other areas, if you’re looking to grow your career you shouldn’t stay in a dead end job for too long. This mistake could lead to your skillset growing stagnant and make it difficult to transition to your next position, particularly if you’re looking to move up the career ladder.

If you can avoid these 7 scary career mistakes, you’ll be much better off in the long run. While there are a few mistakes that you can bounce back from easily, these 7 common ones could haunt the rest of your career and prevent you from reaching your goals.