Don’t Commit These Career-Killers

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Make sure you keep the position you worked so hard to earn

After years of stressing over exams and stalking companies on LinkedIn, your dream job has finally materialized. Though it’s certainly cause for celebration, it can often be just as hard to keep a plum position as it is to get in the door.

Knowing a few of the top “don’ts” in the corporate world can keep you on the payroll and gainfully employed. Equally as important as corporate etiquette at a job fair is behavior in the office (or off site with colleagues at a conference or company social gathering). Below are some tried-and-true ways around known career-killers.

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

While alcohol can promote bonding for colleagues and-let’s face facts-make a company function much more tolerable, it’s essential not to get drunk in front of co-workers. There’s nothing wrong with a couple glasses of wine at the holiday party, but even the smallest misstatement (or worse, provocative dancing) will be remembered on Monday morning. In the same vein, be sure to eat before any company function to slow the effects of alcohol.

Avoid the Gossip Pitfall

Americans see their work colleagues more than family, and there’s nothing more natural than defaulting to talking about other members of the team. Just don’t. It’s tempting to default to cheap laughs at a colleague’s expense, but it reflects on your own professionalism. Also, you don’t want to sever any relationships that may prove beneficial in getting a project approved or receiving a promotion. Follow the day’s news, sports and top TV shows for more neutral topics.

Recognize Office Power Players

It’s important not to confuse perpetuating office gossip with distinguishing company hierarchy. Don’t be so stressed over staying neutral that you neglect to notice who has the boss’ ear and whose ideas become action items. These are probably the people to get on your side.

Don’t Smoke

Granted, it seems unfair that employees who smoke get extra break time to fuel their addiction and it’s tempting to want to join the ranks. Steering clear of the smoker’s circle will keep you from appearing unmotivated in your work to the powers that be. Furthermore, studies show that men who smoke incur 4 more sick days and nearly $16,000 in medical expenses over their career trajectory. (For women, it’s 2 more sick days and almost $18,000). In this era of high employer concern over healthcare costs, you don’t want to be labelled as costing the company more money.

Continue Networking

Many people stop attending networking functions or drop their professional association memberships once after signing an offer letter. However, the best time to keep up your contacts is when you have a job. Even though you have hundreds of family or job responsibilities waiting, take an hour to attend professional or alumni association meetings. In addition to gleaning industry information that will no doubt help in your job, you’ll be adding to your list of contacts. These people can help with projects or answer questions in your current position. Don’t forget to return the favor. You never know when you’ll be looking for your next job. As the old adage goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

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Robin Hocevar

Robin Hocevar is a former staff writer at ADVANCE.

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