Thanks to this lovely thing we call the internet, there are a lot of resources out there intended to help you kick butt on the job from day one. You can learn to impress your boss before you’re even hired by writing the perfect cover letter, to get over your fear of public speaking so you can make the best presentations the office has ever seen, and to successfully negotiate a raise as you continue your rise to success. It sounds like you’re pretty much covered, right?
What happens, though, when you feel like you’ve started establishing professional patterns that are turning your career into one big mistake? Where are those resources? What are you supposed to do when you feel like you’ve disappointed yourself and your boss? Thankfully, most slip-ups at work are fixable: We turned to LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele for guidance on how to get back on track once those mistakes have already been made (and reassurance that they’re totally recoverable). Keep scrolling to learn more about how five seemingly irredeemable errors can be turned around.
1. Handling Feedback Negatively: In both our professional and personal lives, it’s essential that we learn to accept constructive criticism effectively so that we can continue to grow and improve… But if that hasn’t been your strongest suit so far at the office, it’s never too late to change your ways. Being in the working world means being part of an endless feedback loop with your colleagues and supervisors. If you know that you’ve previously had a tendency to be defensive in the face of not-so-positive feedback, there’s absolutely zero chance that another round of feedback isn’t coming your way soon — along with an opportunity to handle it better.
If accepting iffy feedback is hard for you, Decembrele recommends that you “think of [it] as a necessary part of your growth — it’s in these moments that you can really work hard on developing ways to advance in your career.” Celebrate small wins like rocking a presentation or completing a day’s to-do list so that you’re not totally put off your game by negative feedback when it does come.
2. Missing a Deadline: Is there anyone in the working world who can honestly say that they’ve never missed a deadline? Doubtful. The good news for basically all of us, then, is that missed deadlines are often recoverable problems. In the moment, the best you can do for a missed deadline is to exercise professionalism with a calm apology and then do your best to get the job done as soon as possible. Sometimes, though, dropping the ball on projects and generally losing track of scheduling can become a pattern. If you’ve noticed these patterns in yourself recently, you actually have a great opportunity to prove to the people you work with that you are proactive and solution-oriented.
“If you are regularly missing deadlines, it’s important to take a step back to figure out what’s at the root of the problem and create an action plan for how you can meet them in the future,” Decembrele urges. “Your boss will likely be interested in hearing these solutions, so be sure to share so they understand you are actively working on improving.”
3. Skipping Networking Opportunities: If you haven’t taken advantage of opportunities to network so far, that’s okay. Often, professionals (especially young professionals) need to come around to the importance of networking in their own time, rather than being pushed toward it. Networking is, however, a very important process — so important, in fact, that 80 percent of professionals consider it key to their success, per LinkedIn research.
Once you’re ready to join the networking pack, you can recommit yourself to attending events and after-work social gatherings that will give you more face time with people in your industry. Start small by using social networks. Liking and sharing posts on LinkedIn is a great way to engage in conversations about your field and demonstrate that you’re interested in connecting with other people who work in it.
4. Making Yourself Too Accessible: Technology has effectively taken over our lives. You may have started a new job and accidentally given everyone at the office the impression that you’re available at all times of the day or night, simply because you make a habit of constantly checking your work email from your phone and of picking up every. single. phone call from your boss, even on the weekends. Establishing behavior like this can often end up feeling like a mistake, as you start to wonder if you’ll ever be able to unplug!
If disconnecting from work after hours is a goal of yours, Decembrele suggests baby steps. Put your phone in another room during dinner, commit to turning off your work-related devices for most of the weekend and only checking emails at a certain time on Saturday afternoon, or even set up a time to talk with your boss about healthy boundaries that will be a win for everyone involved. There’s no reason you can’t make yourself less accessible moving forward.
5. Not Taking Charge of Your Career Right Away: You graduated from college and got a job because, well, that’s what you thought you were supposed to do. You never felt in it: You found yourself showing up every day on time and doing what was asked of you, but trying your hardest to forget about all things work-related the minute you walked out of the office. Sound familiar?
You’re not the only one who simply got a job instead of really taking charge of their career and future. With the wisdom of a little extra time, though, you might now see that a shift in mindset is necessary. “It’s important to understand what you’re in it for,” Decembrele encourages. “You’re happiest when who you are lines up with what you do, and by understanding what makes you happy in your career and beyond, you can establish goals that help you work toward your personal definition of success.”
If you’re ready to pursue a promotion or pivot into a position that feels better aligned with your values, don’t assume that you aren’t qualified simply because you haven’t to date taken charge of your career. Instead, look for opportunities to gain new skills at professional development trainings and with online classes. Use your colleagues as resources to learn more about the industry. Take someone whose career you admire out to lunch and consider how they might be able to mentor you into a role that lights you up! It’s never too late to take a new approach to your career.