8 Biggest Career Mistakes Young Workers Make

by Joanna Sloame; Updated September 26, 2017
Portrait of a young designer by her desk

Overview

So you’ve finally made it to the “real world” and landed your first job. Congratulations! Before you dive into the working world, there are a few common pitfalls you should try to avoid. Click through to learn about the eight biggest career mistakes young professionals tend to make.

Being Afraid to Speak Up

Whether it’s asking for a raise, time off, or just voicing an opinion, it’s important to stand up for yourself in the office. The more confidence you exude, the more others will have in you, and as long as you do it in a respectful and professional way, your colleagues will be more impressed than put-off by your assertiveness. Make sure to know your worth and not let your age or inexperience dictate how others treat you.

Drinking Too Much at Office Functions

Businessman Asleep on an Office Sofa Holding a Bottle of Wine

No matter how casual your office might be, do not get fooled into thinking you can have as much fun as you want at holiday or other office parties, dinners and events. It’s fine to loosen up and get to know your coworkers outside the office -- in fact, it’s actually great for relationship building -- but make sure you have your wits about you. There’s nothing worse than waking up the morning after an office event regretting what you did or said.

Goofing Off

You may think no one is looking or particularly cares about what you're doing all day, but if you're like most young professionals, you sit in a cube with your computer screen visible to all who pass by. So it's important to limit the amount of time you spend on Facebook, personal email and other non-work-related sites. Even though your boss may seem relaxed, he's not going to appreciate an employee who seems to care more about her friend's status updates than her actual work.

Dressing Inappropriately

Businesswoman Sitting on a Sofa

Sometimes, it can be difficult to be taken seriously as a young professional. One thing that can either help or hurt you is how you present yourself. If you dress too provocatively, young or casual, you could be sending the wrong message to your coworkers. Just because you have it, doesn’t mean the office is the place to wear it. If you want to be taken seriously, dress seriously.

Not Networking

Businessmen shaking hands

Yes, working hard and being seen as a dedicated employee is vital to your professional success, but professional relationships are just as important when it comes to getting your next job or promotion. Many young people are afraid to network and appear aggressive, but it is an established part of the working world. A good way to start is by asking your superiors whom you look up to for career guidance.

Gossiping in the Office

Businesspeople gathering at water cooler

While networking is the right way to build relationships, gossiping is not. Commiserating with coworkers over shared office gripes can be a great way to bond, but it’s a dangerous habit to get into and can cause friction with other colleagues. If others come to you with gossip or complaints, refrain from joining in and stay neutral. In the long run, it will serve you better to not make enemies at work.

Being Late for Work

Businessman walking downtown

Appearance is everything. You could be the hardest worker in the office or do extra work from home, but if you are consistently late to work, you give off the impression that you’re a slacker. People notice who stays late and who comes in early and will form an opinion about you, whether it’s accurate or not. Your professional reputation is a vital part of getting ahead in your industry and being late to work sounds trivial, but it can gradually undermine all your hard work.

Acting Entitled

Daydreaming office worker

Acting too confident is a common issue with young professionals. It is sometimes hard for recent college graduates to transition from top-of-the-food-chain seniors to professional “freshmen.” Now that you’re out of the collegiate bubble, you must remember to be humble and know your place in the company. Just because you might have graduated cum laude, doesn’t mean you’re too good to make photocopies, and that attitude will hurt your chances of being promoted.

Video of the Day

Brought to you by Techwalla
Brought to you by Techwalla

About the Author

Joanna Sloame has been a professional writer since 2008. She works with ABC Media as the digital media coordinator for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Sloame has also served as an online editor for the "New York Daily News" and written for Forbes.com and The Jewish Virtual Library. She holds a B.A. in history and creative writing from Columbia University.

Photo Credits

  • Getty Images
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article