Getting ahead in your career certainly has much to do with your skills and contributions, but a lot also depends on how you are perceived by your colleagues and managers on the job. The impressions you make with your coworkers and management can greatly affect your potential to advance. Are you taking the right steps or are you sabotaging yourself?
Here are six actions to avoid:
1. Saying no to your boss. Your supervisor comes to you, mentioning you'd be the ideal person to mentor a new hire in your group and asks if you'd have the time. You do, but you're not interested in the responsibility, so you decline the opportunity. Bad move. It's not wise to build a reputation as someone your boss can't count on. A pattern of "no's" can convince your manager to stop offering you any future opportunities, including ones you might be interested in, thus hindering your career growth.
2. Taking casual too far. The IT profession tends to be pretty informal, but that doesn't mean you can be unprofessional. Showing up to work in torn jeans and T-shirts and using overly casual language around the office doesn't send the message that you're intent on moving up in the organization.
3. Never volunteering to help. A task doesn't fall inside your job description, so you see little reason to take it on. If you're this type - one who looks away when colleagues and managers seek assistance with projects - you're showing that you're not a team player. If you must decline a plea for help due to your workload, the smartest move is to explain the situation and note when you will be in a better position to volunteer.
4.Failing to follow through with requests from managers. A department head has asked you to determine why her e-mail isn't filtering spam as well as it used to. You're busy with other mission-critical projects and put this request on the back burner, since it doesn't seem urgent. While responding to the request might not be an operational necessity, if you're routinely discounting the importance of requests from those higher up in the organization, you're leaving a bad impression. When in doubt, always put tasks assigned to you by managers at the top of your to-do list.
5. Being part of the rumor mill. When there's bad news to share or complaints to be made about situations at work, it's best not to be leading the talk at the water cooler. There's nothing wrong with having camaraderie with coworkers, but being associated with negative discussions makes you seem negative - which won't please managers and can harm relationships at work.
6. Not heeding advice given by others. A receptionist in your department pulls you aside and mentions that you might want to get your activity reports into your boss more promptly because it's becoming an issue. Instead of taking the tip, you figure she doesn't understand the demands of being a programmer and you make no changes. A week later your manager is criticizing your tardy activity reports. Remember, if people feel compelled enough to offer professional advice, chances are it's serious and worth giving careful consideration.
As you start off the new year, it's the ideal time to evaluate your career and whether you're doing all you can to be successful. Make sure your own actions aren't derailing new opportunities from coming your way.
Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. The company has more than 100 locations in North America, South America, Asia and Europe, and offers online job search services at www.rht.com.