6 sure-fire ways to sabotage your career (and what to do instead)

When it comes to climbing the corporate ladder, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. Here’s how to not put a foot wrong and achieve job satisfaction.

Most of us will clock up more than 90,000 hours at work during our lifetime, so naturally we want job satisfaction out of that time spent.

But if your career trajectory is not reaching the dizzying heights you’d hoped, it could be your own behaviour that’s holding you back.

From “quiet quitting: to “ghosting” job offers, here’s what not to do if you want to get ahead.

Constant complaints

You know that acquaintance you dread sitting next to at dinner parties because they’re always whingeing?

That’s how your workmates feel when you complain all day long.

Career Crossroads International founder and director Michael Boyd says having a negative attitude is one of the fastest ways to stall your career.

Do this instead

“Having the right attitude plays a big role in whether an individual gets ahead or not,” Michael says.

So, next time you feel a snarky comment coming on, remember that research shows optimists find jobs more easily and scale the ladder faster than pessimists.

Job ghosting

We’ve all heard of ghosting a party or someone on social media, but it’s becoming increasingly common in the workplace as well.

A recent US survey revealed one-third of candidates had been ghosted during the recruitment process, while 71 per cent admitted to ghosting a potential employer.

Do this instead

Besides being unprofessional, ghosting an employer can come back to haunt you later in your career.

Michael says you should always end things on a positive note, so if you change your mind about a job, be polite and let the hiring manager know.

Job hopping

Average job tenure in Australia is 3.3 years – and just 18 months for under 25s.

While the stigma attached to changing jobs frequently is diminishing, it still doesn’t look good on your resume if you are job hopping every few months, Michael says.

Do this instead

“You’re not expected to stay in one job for 10-plus years like your parents did, but you do need to go through a couple of seasons so you can show year-on-year improvements on your resume,” Michael explains.

He says if you’re bored at work, try to improve your job satisfaction by asking for extra projects to enhance your skills, or regularly checking the company website for new roles.

People pleasing

Executive coach for women Brooke Taylor says navigating a career path is really about navigating an endless series of difficult conversations.

“The most critical factor in career advancement is the ability to communicate directly and courageously,” Brooke says.

“Many women are conditioned to communicate passively – to not ask directly for what they want, to people please, not share a divergent point of view, or be unclear in feedback.”

Do this instead

Communicating with confidence and conviction will make the difference between going up for promotion or being passed up, Brooke says.

“One way to turn your communication from passive to direct is to ask yourself, ‘How can I say this in the clearest way, while staying true to myself?’,” she suggests.

Quiet quitting

The hashtag #quietquitting – just doing the bare minimum at work – has racked up more than 130 million views on TikTok.

From not answering out-of-hours calls or emails to leaving on the dot of 5pm, the behaviour is believed to be on the rise in response to workplace burnout.

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“You need to ask yourself is this a company that offers career projection; and what is your motivation to stay or go,” Michael suggests.

“If the only option is to move on, then don’t leave on a bad note – you never know when you will need them to be a reference, or if you might want to return in the future.”

Validation junkie

Brooke says mistaking success for self-worth is a universal pitfall that sabotages your career.

“I call this phenomenon ‘the success wound’ and it’s common in high achievers who constantly chase external validation from managers, peers, colleagues and friends,” she says.

Do this instead

Not only does it inhibit job satisfaction, Brooke says constantly seeking approval from others can lead to severe burnout.

“Redefining success as intrinsically driven rather than extrinsically validated leads to greater passion, perseverance, and performance in the long run,” she says.

Written by Dimity Barber.