Sometimes our first thought isn’t the brightest idea. As I work with professionals in every industry, at every career level, here are 3 pesky mistakes I see crop up again and again, strategies that at first glance seem like a smart move but that in reality can have negative career consequences.

 

Think twice before saying something negative. Any time you say something negative about your company, your boss, or even your coworkers—even if your point of view is completely accurate—this can blow back on you. No one wants to work with someone who amplifies the negative. To paraphrase one of my all-time favorite TV characters: “If you run into a jerk in the morning, you ran into a jerk. If you run into jerks all day—you’re the jerk.”

Instead, recognize that everyone makes mistakes and has flaws. When a problem rises to the level that it truly needs to be addressed, do so proactively and directly. Resist the urge to indulge in grumbling or backbiting. As our friend Michelle Obama says, “When they go low, we go high.”

 

Think twice before taking the wrong job. I often work with people who took a job because it was available, expedient, or it made good money in the short-term. But taking a job that’s off your career track, well, bumps you off your career track.  It creates question marks (at best) and red flags (at worst) on your resume that can be hard to recover from.

Instead, build a career instead of just taking a job. Think about cultivating and developing your lifelong career. Keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up-to-date to increase your chances of being contacted with good opportunities and so you’ll be ready to jump when the right opportunity comes along.

 

Think twice before sending out a resume that covers all the bases. Some job seekers don’t want to limit their options, so they try to create a resume that works for a variety of scenarios— say, jobs in sales…and marketing…and management…and real estate. But a good resume must clearly and definitively answer the question “Who are you and what do you do?” Casting your net too wide creates confusion. Rather than portraying you as qualified for many jobs, it generally portrays you as not qualified for any job.

Instead, pick a lane. Your resume will be much more effective if it is targeted to a specific career goal.