Get rewarded for a job well done by avoiding these common career killers.

By Amanda Lauren
July 24, 2019
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Nothing worthwhile is easily achieved, especially when it comes to getting the raise you deserve. Everyday office habits like arriving early and staying late may increase your productivity, but hard work and long hours alone often aren't enough to catch the attention of your boss and peers.

Making the case for a promotion involves conscious and consistent energy. Too often though, employees hoping to advance in their careers focus solely on what to do, rather than what not to do. If getting promoted is your top priority this year, avoid these common career mistakes that are holding you back from a better salary.

Mistake #1: You're Failing to Communicate

Frequent communication is key when it comes to conversations with your boss. After all, information is power. "It's natural to believe that holding on to information will help you advance your career, but that strategy doesn't work," says Managerial Coach and best-selling author, Michael O'Brien. "Business today requires two-way communication that values listening, curiosity, and information transparency." According to O'Brien, if you aren't demonstrating these communication tactics, then your boss may view you as an information silo who can't play well with others.

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Mistake #2: You're Not Leading By Example

Leading your team by example proves to your manager that you're ready to take on more in your role. "Leadership positions are often filled by people who are seen as influencers in the organization," explains Karen Walker, Executive and CEO Coach at One Team Consulting. "If you're able to lead well in unofficial capacities, you're more likely to be noticed and rewarded with official ones."

Think of these opportunities to lead as a trial run for how you will handle even larger responsibilities. "How you show up and demonstrate that your beliefs, words, and actions are aligned is vital for trust-building," says O'Brien. "If they're not, then it's going to be hard for you to hand over the keys and trust that you can drive performance in the right way."

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Mistake #3: You're Not Networking

Even though networking may not be listed as one of your official job duties, cultivating professional relationships is crucial to career advancement. On an internal level, Karen Gaski, a Senior Human Resources Business Partner with CareerBuilder, suggests asking your manager to help make introductions. You should also reach out to others on your own. "Networking will help you get recognized for internal opportunities," she says. "Send someone an email, ask them to coffee, and go to company events."

Networking is also about developing relationships and building a group of people who believe in your potential. "Imagine if several external influencers you've built relationships with recommended to your boss that you should be promoted," says Melanie Katzman, PhD and author of Connect First: 52 Simple Ways to Ignite Success, Meaning, and Joy at Work ($26; amazon.com). "Wouldn't your promotion seem far more likely?"

Mistake #4: You're Not Being Assertive

According to Walker, it's important to show your assertive side on a regular basis. "You can't succeed in higher level positions if you don't successfully advocate for your work," she says. "You have a responsibility to your team to make your needs known." Being assertive isn't entirely a solo effort, either. "Allies can help advocate on your behalf and give you confidence when you need to speak up on your value," O'Brien says. "Ultimately you have to be your best spokesperson, and it's easier to fight for your worth when you have people in your corner."

Mistake #5: You're Failing to Set Long-Term Goals

You won't get where you're going without a concrete plan. "Failing to set long-term goals is like going on a road trip without Google Maps," says O'Brien. One, three, and five-year plans give you a sense of direction and thoughtfulness that help you communicate your career desires to your boss and others. "Without a plan, you may be forced into unproductive turns that others want you to take," he says. "The result is a career that keeps recalculating."

Sharing your vision with your boss is a smart move, but be careful about how you approach unveiling your plans. "Don't say 'I want a promotion' because it's not about you," says Katzman. "Make the conversation about the opportunities you see to help advance the company's agenda." If you can align what you love doing with ways to make others shine, you've hit the ultimate career sweet spot.

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