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Career Mistakes to Avoid in 2023

career mistakes

Ready for 2023? It’s promising to be another unprecedented year for the workforce, which may not sound like good news. Economic worries, layoffs, and other factors might lead to career mistakes you might not typically make. Here are a few to avoid this year:

Pulling Back on Retirement Contributions

When the economy gets scary, career mistakes can follow. As retirement portfolios take a hit, you might panic and pull back on contributions to 401ks and similar accounts. But many experts are cautioning against it, especially if your employer matches your contributions.

“It doesn’t feel good to contribute and then see it immediately drop 5% the next week. However, taking advantage of an employer match on contributions is one of the best ways of ensuring an instant return on your investment. When markets are down, this can help buoy your portfolio and boost asset purchases at lower valuations,” says U.S. News & World Report’s Tony Dong.

Assuming Your Job Is Layoff-Proof

Meta (Facebook) suddenly let go of 11,000 or 13% of its staff in its first-ever mass layoff this past November. Those employees claim management spent months swearing layoffs weren’t on the table. But the numbers indicated a different reality was brewing: In July, revenues declined for the first time, and by October, Meta’s quarterly profits dropped by more than half. By the time the layoffs came, its stock had fallen more than 70%.

When working for a public company like Meta, it’s important to keep an eye on dramatic market changes like those. You don’t need to jump ship when things go south—that could lead to career mistakes, too—but you should be prepared. Take a look at your employment agreement and note severance, non-complete, COBRA, and other details that may come into play if your employment changes.

Not Negotiating Salary

When accepting a new job, ask for the compensation you want from the start. Take a look at salary calculators, ask recruiters, and figure out the “going rate.” Among the most common career mistakes is expecting to catch up later (because you likely won’t). A now-classic NPR article from 2011 illustrates that failing to negotiate salary early on could cost you between $1 million and $1.5 million in lost earnings over time. And if you’re staying at a job you’ve been with for a while and haven’t gotten a decent bump in pay year-over-year, you may be due for one. Pay continues to increase in 2023, with employers planning 4.3% increases. Inflation has risen at a much higher rate, so if you’re not at least being offered raises at that average level, your salary is not keeping pace.

Glassdoor offers a helpful guide on negotiating a salary that you can use for inspiration. We also love this guide by the College of American Pathologists that reminds us that less than 10% of women even attempt to negotiate their salary, while almost 60% of men do. They also claim studies show that people are more likely to get a raise if they ask on a Thursday and that drinking caffeine before a negotiation could make you more resistant to persuasion. True or not, it’s a fun read with some helpful tips.

Snubbing LinkedIn and Oversharing Elsewhere

Can your social media be a source for career mistakes? Let’s take a look: A 2021 Harris poll found that 67% of employers use social media sites to research potential job candidates and that about 21% of hiring decision-makers are not likely to consider a candidate without a social media presence. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that 54% of employers ruled out a candidate due to finding something on their social media profile that they didn’t like. And a study by the Aberdeen Group found that 73% of job seekers between 18 and 34 found their last job through social media.

Oversharing can be a problem on social media, but so can having no presence. Strike a balance by cleaning up your public-facing social media, ensuring that you’re not sharing things that are damaging to your reputation. But do have a searchable and helpful profile on LinkedIn (here’s how). About 90% of recruiters search for candidates on LinkedIn to fill company job openings.

Turning Your Back on Continuous Learning

Some professionals are required to invest in continuing education: Accredited accountants, teachers, engineers, and HR professionals are among them. Most software and tech jobs require updated certifications in specific skill areas. But we’ll further suggest that every worker could benefit from professional development. It’s a win-win for you and your employer, really. Studies show that upskilling can improve your morale and your sense of purpose and value at work. Your employer, in return, can benefit from increased productivity and the cost-savings of filling skill gaps from within, which can save them thousands per individual role. Remember that there are both technical and soft skills (like leadership training, conflict resolution, and time management) that can help you reach that next level.

Not Being Open to New Experiences

An interesting part of the recent Great Resignation is that many workers didn’t just quit their jobs, they quit their industries. In fact, McKinsey & Company found that only about a third of workers who left jobs in the past two years returned to the same industry they were in. At least half of the workers in popular sectors like finance and technology, even, left the industries they knew. Were they committing career mistakes? Not necessarily. McKinsey explains that workers with sought-after skills – like data science and computer programming – can switch sectors easier than ever because those skills now transcend niche industries.

We’ve long told candidates to be open about venturing outside the industries they already know (and maybe don’t love). Working with a recruiter can help connect you with jobs you may not have known about or considered before. And now, because switching industries has become a trend, employers are more open than ever to considering candidates with transferable skills.

Career mistakes will happen. The good news is that there are few you can’t recover from. The key is not allowing fear—of the economy or the unknown, for instance—to cloud your judgment.