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Career killers to avoid

A high school senior recently called me about the possibility of summer temporary work. As I do with all job applicants, I asked about any previous experience and references from those jobs. She had worked at a local discount retailer but "hated that job so I won't get a good reference," she replied. "why will they give you a bad reference," I probed. "Well, I sort of had a personality conflict with my supervisor, called in late a few times and had trouble balancing the cash drawer," she explained. At least she's honest, I thought. Problem is, this is her only track record so far! Is she a good risk as an employee given this limited experience? The jury is definitely out.

Employers ask themselves these questions each time they make a hiring decision. Unfortunately, many workers forget the importance of work history. The bottom line: every position you have ever held, whether entry or management level, is meaningful to your future employability. Every day I hear employers complain about poor attitudes, the inability to complete jobs error free and the disappearance of the work ethic. I also hear employees complain about their jobs and employers. Nevertheless, if you are going to do a job, you need to do it right. Period.

Based upon conversations I have had with hundreds of employers, here are the most common complaints about employees. If you are a worker who wants to blossom professionall, avoid these costly errors:

1. Time

  • Late arrivals.
  • Too many absences.
  • Too much time spent on personal activities.
  • Leaving work early and/or before work is completed.
  • Taking too long to complete tasks.

2. Work ethic

  • Doing a job half way or in a sloppy manner.
  • Always looking for ways to avoid work or asking others to do your job.
  • Not asking for more work when idle or finding ways to be useful.

3. Attitude

  • Poor customer-service or teamwork skills.
  • Unwilling to go the distance for a customer.
  • Frequent complaints about company policies.
  • Insubordination and generally making others unhappy and dissatisfied.

4. Attention to detail

  • Too many input errors.
  • Getting phone messages wrong.
  • Not proofing work carefully (spelling errors, typos, etc.)

These career killers are more common than you might think. Be sure to watch out for these detrimental traits. Taking the time and energy to fix them will be worth its weight in gold.

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