Career killers: Mistakes to avoid on the job


You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Wise words to keep in mind when starting a new job. Wise words to keep in mind when starting a new job.

Are you doing anything that could sour your first impression? Ruth to the Rescue visited Oakland University's Associate Director of Career Services Brian Partie to find out some of the biggest mistakes new employees can make in their first days.

"The No. 1 mistake is attire," said Partie. "Individuals not knowing the difference between casual, business casual, professional, formal."

Partie says you can easily avoid violating your employer's dress code. Simply performing a web-search for words like "professional attire" can net you plenty of do's and don'ts.

"Dress for the position that you aspire to have versus the position you are currently in," advised Partie.

Choosing the Best Way to Communicate

Another mistake is poor communication, and in today's workplace, technology is complicating that challenge.

"Our reliance on advancements in technology and different devices is definitely harming that relationship in the workplace," said Partie.

He says interpersonal skills need to evolve according to how your new co-workers prefer to communicate. Don't force them to communicate on your terms.

"You've got five generations co-existing now," he says. "You've got different ways that you communicate in terms of preferring to IM somebody in the workplace that may be 10 feet away or send a quick text or email versus getting out of your chair and going face-to-face having a conversation with that individual."

Ask Lots of Questions

"Another mistake individuals make is not taking their time to network and ask questions on the job," said Partie. 

He said it's important to learn your new workplace before coming up with suggestions on how it can be improved. 

"Coming off as a "know-it-all" ...is not what people want to be around," he added. 

It's No Joke, Approach Humor With Caution 

And if you want use your witty humor to impress new friends, you'd better be careful.

"Humor would be another downfall or pitfall that you'd make by not taking the time to understand what's accepted in that workspace," Partie said.

More Career Killers to Avoid

In addition to the above mistakes, Partie offered several more to watch out for:

  • Possessing a sense of entitlement: "Maybe they've worked at a comparable organization for a long period of time and they've advanced within those ranks or they've got a degree from a certain well-known institution that they feel carries some weight and that can harm the ego they have going into these conversations."
  • Tardiness or missing work: "Nothing more frustrating than when you've got something scheduled and someone doesn't treat you with that same respect that you'd like and they either miss it all together or they come in late."
  • Speaking poorly of past employers and co-workers: "It creates horrible team dynamics. It creates an awkwardness in the workplace."
  • Having a poor attitude: "Employers are looking for individuals to roll up their sleeves and get the job done and go at it in a positive manner," said Partie. "People love doing business with individuals that they like to be around. And building relationships with individuals is not only going to help you grow professionally, but it's going to give you a network of people that can speak to your capabilities."
  • Taking long lunch breaks if that's not the culture of your new workplace:  "Just that understand for the norms and traditions that surround the organization that you've just joined."