Fix your bad career habits

If 2010 is going to be your year, then get serious about fixing bad career and workplace habits that are dragging you down. Here are a few to think about:

Bad Career Habit #1: Not Networking

Let’s agree on one point – most of us would rather pull out our eyelashes than network. If you’re a networking champ, then skip this paragraph. Otherwise, consider the fact that one of the reasons you may avoid networking is simply because you’re not good at it. You’re not comfortable with it. You don’t enjoy it. Makes sense – after all, if you only went to the gym once or twice a year, that would hurt too, wouldn’t it? The only way to be a better networker is to do it more often. Practice. Make networking a habit – which means doing it when you don’t feel like it (kind of like the gym, right?). Make the commitment to have lunch with someone once a week, or attend an event once a month. Whatever the number, pick it and stick to it.

Bad Career Habit #2: Ignoring Social Media

If you’re not blogging, tweeting, or otherwise getting your ideas and expertise out there using social media tools, you’re missing a golden career opportunity. Most of us have no problem sharing the latest on Facebook, but are you using social media tools strategically? For instance, a job seeker looking for networking contacts could use her blog (which she’s already created and updates regularly as a way to showcase her expertise) to reach out to people to interview for an entry she’s working on. And, if you are using tools, how often are you blogging/tweeting? My personal resolution is to get more focused and disciplined about doing this, too – so I’m not blogging periodically, but on a regular basis. Here’s a habit I’m working on: Blogging three times/week. Readers, hold me to this!

Bad Career Habit #3: Mistaking Effort for Output

You and I know people that work their butts off – you may be one of them, in fact. There’s nothing wrong with hard work, but if you’re putting in lots of time and not getting the payoff (in promotions, raises, recognition, or whatever it is you’re hoping the hard work will do for your career), make sure you’re delivering value and real results that will matter to your personal bottom line. And, while you’re at it, avoid this bad habit’s evil stepsister – thinking that being busy is the same thing as being productive. We’re all busy – but how many of us are really getting everything done that we need to? A simple, but effective way to stay on track: Spend five minutes each morning (before you turn on your laptop or Blackberry) to make a list of three priorities for the day. Keep your list short, sweet, and targeted, so that if nothing else happens, you’ve been productive where it matters most.

Author's Bio: 

Elizabeth Freedman is an expert in career and workplace issues. She is the author of Work 101: Learning the Ropes of the Workplace without Hanging Yourself and The MBA Student’s Job-Seeking Bible, and was a 2005 finalist for College Speaker of the Year, awarded by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. Elizabeth runs a Boston-based career-development and coaching firm; clients include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Reuters and The Gillette Company. To bring Elizabeth to your next association event or workplace meeting, please visit