Whether you just landed a new job or have been promoted, it’s a pretty solid bet that you’re damn good at what you do. Building a successful career comes down to more than the actual work you do, and those softer professional skills can trip us up on our way to achieving official C-Suite status. To uncover some common job mistakes you might not even know you’re making, we talked with Dana Brownlee from Professionalism Matters. She gave us five things to look out for so you can maintain your top-notch work cred. Read on for what not to do in the office.
1. Failing to realise you build credibility every day
Brownlee acknowledges that it’s super easy to forget that you’re either “building or eroding” your credibility every day — not just on big projects or during important meetings. To make this work for you, “Consider your style of writing, general disposition, and the casual comments you make during meetings, on calls, or even when you’re taking a break and chatting with colleagues.” She says you should always feel comfortable to be yourself, but to also remember to maintain a certain level of professionalism when you’re in work situations — no matter how much fun you’re having.
2. Responding slowly or not at all
“If you develop a reputation as someone who is always responsive and never lets a task fall through the cracks, you’ll improve your credibility and professional currency,” Brownlee explains. On the flip side, if you consistently respond slowly or fail to complete projects altogether, you risk developing a reputation as undependable.
3. Feeling too shy to ask questions
Ever feel like you have questions to ask, either in a 1:1 situation, in a meeting, or during a presentation? Being too nervous to ask them might make it seem like you’re uninterested, lead you to waste time by trying to figure out something yourself, or cause you to make a mistake that could’ve been easily avoided. “Good leaders and collaborators appreciate solid, thoughtful questions. People would much rather see that you’re actively thinking through how you’re going to approach the task or project and doing everything it takes to make sure you get it right from the start,” Brownlee points out.
4. Taking *too* much advantage of flexibility or perks
“While most appreciate the flexibility that’s been introduced over the last decade, it’s a mistake to overuse perks or remote work options, even if it’s completely unintentional.” She says that these perks should never be something you lead with when talking with your manager. “Show a hunger for learning and communicate that you want to be around the office to soak up as much as you can. If you find yourself debating why you should be able to telecommute two days a week since your BFF in marketing gets to, it’ll appear that your focus or motivation is in the wrong place.” Good point.
5. Skipping spell check
Communication might be less formal than it has been historically (who doesn’t love a well-placed emoji or totally professional GIF?), but that definitely doesn’t mean that spelling and grammar are any less important. The good news? All it takes is running a quick spell check or Grammarly scan. Want bonus points? The Hemingway app will help you write sentences that are bold and clear. Brownlee agrees that double-checking the basics is definitely worth a few minutes. “If you fire off an email with tons of typos, eight out of 10 people may not care, but for the two that do, you run the risk of diminishing your credibility with them. Can you really afford to take that chance every time you send out a message with errors?”
This was first published on Brit + Co, and has been republished with full permission.