Sadly, while it takes a vast amount of time and effort to build and maintain a successful career, it is really easy to destroy it in an instant. Here are five scarily common workplace blunders that can cost you your job – and damage your future prospects for getting hired as well.
Unprofessional posts on social media
The key word in social media is ‘media.’ Anything you publish has the potential to be broadcast to unforeseen audiences. Even if you have strict privacy settings in place, it is still possible for someone inside your network to copy and share photos or posts. Friends of friends can be the leak.
Employers will Google you and look you up on social media sites. (Here’s what they’re looking for.) People have lost their jobs for sharing private company info on LinkedIn, ranting about their employer on Facebook, and tweeting complaints about customers, as well as for a variety of other unfortunate kinds of posts. Here are 10 types of social posts that can cost you a job.)
Not all dishonesty at work is as clear-cut as cooking the books or fudging the numbers. Even if you think something is just a little white lie – it is still a lie. If you tell your boss that you have to miss a meeting because you’re going to a funeral, and it comes out that you actually went to the ball game – your reputation is going to take a hit. Work relations are built on trust. People come to count on each other – and no one likes to put their faith in someone who has outright lied to them.
Most of us generally give each other the benefit of the doubt, but once that trust has been broken, it can be nearly impossible to win back. Don’t earn the reputation of being deceitful. If you really want the day off to go to the game, earn it. Most employers respect extra hours worked to bring a project in on time, and offer lieu time off in exchange. Or take a personal or vacation day. Don’t be a scammer.
Sending an email when you’re angry
Some people handle can conflicts at work professionally, while others get emotional. In any job, disagreements are going to happen. Competing priorities, misunderstandings, or personality clashes can lead to some tense encounters. When we’re upset, sometimes nothing feels as good as blasting off an angry email calling out the other person and telling them off.
Never do that. Losing your temper is losing. If you absolutely must write out that angry tirade, then do it in a Word document so you can’t hit ‘Send.’ Save it and read it after you’ve cooled down. It could save your career.
We don’t make sound decisions when we’re emotional. And sending the angry email just creates a paper trail of you not being at your best. You don’t need that to be on file with HR. And while one angry email may not cost you your job – creating a file folder of angry outbursts will limit your chances of getting ahead.
Walk away from a conflict until you’re no longer feeling angry, and then try to address the situation in person. Email exchanges can frequently make disagreements and misunderstandings worse. It’s often better just to talk it out.
Having too much to drink at work functions
The work party or after work drinks might look like a social event, but whenever you’re with co-workers, you still have to behave like you’re at work. Show up, mingle with people outside your own clique, and thank the boss and organizer for arranging the event.
Don’t be the one who drinks too much, goes on a rant about their boss or coworkers, makes inappropriate comments, or worse. Just because you don’t remember what happened the next day doesn’t mean that everybody else won’t remember your behaviour and judge you for it.
Burning your bridges on the way out
Everybody knows the importance of making a positive first impression when trying to land a job. Have you ever considered how much longer the last impression you make is going to stick with someone?
Everybody has things they like more than others about their jobs – and people whom they prefer over others. Still, even when you’re leaving a job for good – it’s not a good idea to rant about it.
Telling off your manager, complaining about your colleagues, or putting down the company itself will only reflect badly on you. Do you want people to remember you as angry, bitter, complaining, or unprofessional? Or would you prefer to leave behind the impression that you left with class and integrity and on good terms? You want to leave people with the feeling that they would look forward to the opportunity to work with you again.
The scary fact is that any of these bad career moves can be really easy to make in a moment of thoughtlessness. And they can all damage your professional reputation in ways that put your current job at risk and make finding future employment that much harder. The good news is that they can be avoided by thinking before you act and keeping your emotions out of work interactions. Work hard and be nice. Treat people professionally and behave ethically. You’ll be okay.