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5 Career Mistakes You Should Never Make

By Peter Economy | Small Business

You never know when you might lose your job, or when a better opportunity will show up. Be ready by avoiding these potentially disastrous career mistakes.

No matter how secure you feel in your current position, you should never become too comfortable. Things happen: Company's get bought out, ownership changes, operations are moved to another country, and some go bankrupt. Or you might simply decide that it's time to move on to greener pastures.

If you want to have the best career track possible and be able to find a new job quickly when or if the time comes, avoid making these five potentially disastrous career mistakes.

1. Burning bridges

Just one unprofessional, disrespectful moment could ruin a career opportunity such as a promotion or new job. A burned bridge is the loss of a potential opportunity. Always treat others with respect and be professional--and stop the gossip chain--whether it is with your peers, the boss, clients or customers. This applies to social media too. Remember that others will be able to view inappropriate pictures and language use and hit the button labeled share.

2. Stop learning and challenging yourself

If you fall behind the times both in knowledge and technology, and stubbornly continue down the old trusted ways road, your skills will eventually become out of date or completely obsolete. Instead, continue to learn everything you can about your field and challenge yourself to take on new projects. Keep up with technology's lightning-fast progress and keep up with the latest best practices in your field of work.

3. Tossing your resume aside

So often when we land that great job, the resume is the first thing to bite the dust in the back of our desk. When the time comes for a job change of any kind, it becomes a very difficult task to polish up the resume quickly, remembering all the things you have accomplished if you haven't kept a good record. Many people now use LinkedIn or similar sites for keeping an up-to-date record of their positions, progress, achievements, education and awards. These sites are easy to bring up for your boss to view when asking for a raise or promotion and they are a great place for a company interested in you to check you out. Keep your resume current--online site or in a PDF--and watch the typos and grammatical issues--too many can be a deal killer.

4. Not networking and exploring possibilities

If time and time again you turn down opportunities to attend industry or company events, you are isolating yourself. If you aren't networking and building a base of contacts, how do you expect anyone to know who you are? Be sociable and meet as many people within your industry and company as possible--there are many people who receive job offers because of who they know and not necessarily because of what they know. You can also greatly benefit from exploring the possibilities in the job market--find out what other people are doing and how much money they are making with a similar position to yours. Keeping up on current trends within your field will give you bargaining power as well.

5. Not giving it your all

Completing the bare minimum requirement of work each day, not going above and beyond to help your company or a customer, or not playing nicely on a team is sending the message out to the world--people talk--that you really don't care or are just plain lazy. Make this mistake on an ongoing basis and it could ruin your chance for a stellar career. Here's the bottom line: Be the best you as often as you can, and don't be afraid to take on new challenges or opportunities.

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