Eight career mistakes to stop making by 30

Mistakes in the office can slow or halt career advancement. Make sure you stop making these eight mistake by the time you are 30.

Mark Baker/AP/File
Barbara Bush, CEO of Global Health Corps, addresses the Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (May 28, 2013). Mistakes can hold be career advancement.

Mistakes — we all make them, and we all (hopefully) learn from them. When we begin our careers, we make a lot of them. This is only natural, as we are finding our way and often need help, guidance, and understanding. But by the time we have hit 30, we should have five to ten years of experience under our belts. At this point, it is generally understood that we should have learned from those rookie mistakes we made, and we should have grown as employees. If you are making any of the following eight mistakes after 30, you could be jeopardizing your chances for promotions and pay raises.

1. Ignoring the Dangers of Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and many other platforms are here to stay. And most of us use at least a few of them as a way to stay in contact with friends and family. Some people think that having any kind of social media presence is a bad idea, because anything you put on there could be used against you. That's a mistake. You will be expected to have some kind of existence in that world, even if it's not one you actively engage in day-to-day.

However, you must also be aware of what you are posting, and who can see it. People have lost jobs, and even had their lives ruined, by one wrong Tweet or Facebook post (Justine Sacco's story is perhaps the most famous). Know your boundaries. Be social, but keep anything extremely offensive or inflammatory to your own circle of friends. When in doubt, just leave it out.

2. Refusing to Compromise

In many industries, particularly in the field of advertising and design, compromise is a four-letter word. It basically is seen as, "she wants vanilla, I want chocolate, let's mix them together and get a nasty mess no-one wants to eat." As a young recruit, and for several years after that, you may very well dig your heels in on every decision. It's your way, or no way at all, even if it means being seen as difficult or abrasive by upper management. And to some extent, most people understand the zeal of youth. But by the time you're 30, that mindset needs to change. The reason is, you will have gained the necessary skills to make compromises that do not negatively affect the outcome too much. You will have learned how to negotiate, and how to lose some battles in order to win the war. If you are still refusing to compromise at that age, you are hampering your career.

3. Believing You Know Everything

Hubris is not pretty. It's one thing to have confidence; it's something else to be arrogant and a know-it-all. However, youth and self-confidence can be a heady mixture, and can create a level of self-belief that even Darth Vader would consider a bit over the top. If you're just out of college, you may think you have all the latest knowledge, and the old people at work are relics. After a few years, you have a little experience, and that compounds the self-confidence. But by the time you are 30, that should all be out of your system. You should know, as most of us do, that we always have something to learn, and that anyone can bring something good to the table. It's also a time when we can finally admit we were wrong about something without breaking out in hives.

4. Taking On Too Much Work

This is something many of us do at the start of our careers, and it can have some very detrimental side effects. We want to be eager to please, and want everyone to know that we're here to work hard, and give it 110%. This can, and often does, lead to exhaustion and sloppy results. Overwork leads to lack of sleep, stress, poor judgment, and even a shoddy appearance. You may be working your proverbial butt off, but you look like hell, you're making all kinds of errors, and you are missing deadlines. By the time you have reached 30, that should stop. Know your limits, and only take on the work you can do within the time you have been given, to the best of your abilities.

5. Trying to Be Everyone's Friend

Wayne Campbell from Wayne's World said it best, in this little exchange with Garth:

Garth Algar: "Do you ever get the feeling Benjamin's just using us?"
Wayne Campbell: "Good call. It's like he wants us to be liked by everyone. I mean Led Zeppelin didn't write tunes everybody liked. They left that to the Bee Gees."

You cannot be liked by everyone; it's just not possible. We're all human, and we all have certain things that push our buttons — and you are going to push those buttons on a few people. At the start of your career, you can wrap yourself up in emotional knots trying to be universally liked. By 30, you should realize that some people will like you, others won't, but as long as everyone is professional it doesn't really matter. Unless, of course, someone starts using that against you. If that happens, have a long talk with HR.

6. Complaining About Your Company and Coworkers

Everyone has a bone to pick with their current company, their boss, their coworkers, or even all three. In the early days of our careers, it is very easy to fall into the water cooler gossip traps. We'll complain about the values of the company, the people who make the big decisions, even the products or services they offer. But we have to learn that the walls have ears, and it can easily come back to bite us. By the time we're 30, this should be something we know to leave behind. Yes, it's fine to acknowledge the weaknesses of the company, and where improvements can be made, but do it constructively. Rebuking the hand that feeds you is never going to end well.

7. Letting Others Take Credit for Your Success

There are people out there who are quite happy to let you do all the work, and they're equally happy to step in and take the credit for it. When we begin our careers, these people are hard to spot. We haven't learned to look for the warning signs, and we assume their friendliness is well intentioned. By 30, this is no longer excusable. At this age, you should have enough experience to know when someone is trying to take the credit, and enough confidence to speak out and set the record straight. Don't let anyone get away with that at this stage in your career.

8. Selling Yourself Short

You're young, you're naïve, so who are you to make demands for salary, benefits, vacation time, and sick days? You take what you're given, and are thankful for it, right? Well, when we start our working lives, this is somewhat true. But by the time we reach 30, we should know just how valuable we all are to both our current, and prospective, employers.

Take the time to research what you do on sites like salary.com, and scour the web for other information. You are valuable, and sometimes you just have to ask for a pay raise or promotion in order to get one. And when you do great work, let people know. You don't have to brag, but it all goes towards building a case for your worth to your employer.

This article first appeared at Wise Bread.

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