Career Advice: Common Professional Pitfalls to Avoid

Whether or not we realize it, our subconscious can have a strong impact on our decision-making process. While our conscious and outward intention may be to achieve ultimate professional success, there may be a few hidden barriers which we have allowed to deter us from our true capabilities. Often, we allow negative internal dialogue or even antiquated directives and notions dictate our next move. Unfortunately, this pattern can be quite detrimental to achieving our career goals.


Top Headhunter, Career Coach, Investor, and well-known Podcaster, Dandan Zhu, offers some insightful advice concerning some common career mistakes:

Setting Low Standards

A general sense of intimidation can often cause job candidates to avoid asking for what they really need or want. This lack of confidence or fear of overselling themselves will most likely result in unhappiness and overall dissatisfaction. Aim high, and if perchance you don’t reach your target, at least you will end up in a slightly better position than if you hadn’t tried at all.

Telling Yourself ‘No’

Avoiding attractive opportunities will only delay — or even prevent — you from achieving any professional success. Often, job seekers fear that they may lack certain qualifications that are included in the job description. However, educating yourself on the overlap of transferrable skills as well as overcoming your fear of rejection is an important step in moving forward. If an employer feels you are not an ideal fit for the position, they will let you know. However, there is always the chance that they will see you as an excellent prospect; therefore, if you don’t try, you will never know.

Lack of Knowledge Regarding the Job Search System

Zhu reminds readers of the four main “hiring entities” with whom job seekers must learn to negotiate: “The HR person, hiring manger, headhunter, and internal recruiter”. She continues, “Each personal has a slightly different incentive, process, and interaction protocol. You should learn to behave accordingly”. Additionally, the actual process of job seeking – which typically consisted of searching online, applying, waiting for feedback, and (hopefully) going to an interview has greatly evolved. According to Zhu, “The new process is: create your marketing documents (including your resume), master LinkedIn networking, leverage the four hiring entities mentioned above, utilize volume of interviews to your advantage [and] negotiate all throughout”.

Spreading Yourself Too Thinly

Long gone are the days where “multi-tasking” is listed on resumes as a viable skill. Nowadays, special skills are far more valued than general competencies. Zhu states, “Corporations no longer value soldiers, will to do any deed for pay. They want professionals, experts, and true masters of the industry and job vertical. They need these experts to remain viable and stay ahead of their competition”. The key is to sustain relevance within your niche.

Lack of Financial Strategy or Control

While we all want to gain a sense of personal well-being and professional satisfaction through our careers, the main reason we seek employment is to support ourselves financially. Having a strong sense of your financial standing, and planning for the possibility of leaner times will give you more freedom to explore other career options when necessary. Living above your means is never recommended, and as Zhu reiterates, “Because of your deep reliance on your paycheck, your emotions run amuck when experiencing any type of career turbulence”. While we can’t predict the future, remaining budget-conscious and mindful of our spending habits can reduce a great deal of stress if and when times get tough. Conversely, those who base all happiness on earning also risk losing the initial reason why they chose their particular line of work. As Zhu states, “Career meaning, purpose, and ethical behavior quickly fall by the wayside when confronted by financial greed”. Our advice; maintain balance in your spending habits as well as your precedence on financial success.



When it comes to your career, the best course of action is to remain well-informed, network, and communicate with career professionals, mentors, colleagues, and influencers who are capable of providing you with valuable as well as correct guidance and advice.


Fred Coon, CEO


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