5 Career Tactics That Are Actually Holding You Back

By Brittany Lyte on 3 March 2015 0 comments

What if all your efforts to become the shining star of your organization were having the opposite effect? Sometimes even our best-intentioned ploys to climb the ladder higher and faster can result in an unfortuitous fall down to the lower rungs. Just like over-exercising can harm your body rather than help it, there are repercussions to trying too hard to get ahead at work. (See also: 25 Career Changes You Can Make Today)

Sometimes our career advancement tactics may be causing you more harm than good.

1. Volunteering for Every Assignment

If you're volunteering for every assignment in hopes of projecting yourself as the tireless, tenacious worker you think your boss wants you to be, you're at risk of stretching yourself too thin. You're right, your boss probably does want a go-getter. But not a burnt out one.

Research shows that we actually need rest to not only perform at our peak, but to perform well, period. A 2010 LexisNexis survey of 1,700 white collar workers from the U.S., China, South Africa, the U.K., and Australia revealed that employees spend more than half their workdays receiving and managing information. What's more, half of those surveyed workers confessed that they were reaching a breaking point after which they would not be able to accommodate the deluge of data. The takeaway is this: Man is not machine, and if you keep pushing yourself to act like the Energizer Bunny, it's only a matter of time before you crash and burn.

2. Personal Websites That Highlight Your Lack of Experience

If you've got it, flaunt it, as the saying goes. But when it comes to all things ranging from your physique to your personal website, it's best not to accentuate what you're lacking.

Yes, a resume site can help advance your career by showcasing your skills and accomplishments. But it can also ward off potential job and networking opportunities if it merely serves as a cyber billboard promoting the fact that you haven't got much experience under your belt. So if you're having trouble compiling a list of your work-related talents, it's probably best to hold off on building that website and instead bide your time trying to gain more experience. Then, once you've got something to boast about, get back to creating that website and shout it from the virtual mountaintops.

3. Unabashedly Trying to Be the Best

In professional team sports like soccer and football, too many elite players can hinder a team's overall performance, according to a recent study by researchers at Columbia University. The same is true in the workplace. When teams of any sort need to come together, the study authors concluded, a deluge of talent can tear them apart. Infighting over dominance is just one of many negative outcomes of what researchers dubbed the "too-much-talent-effect." So if you're currently on a mission to assert yourself at the head of the office talent pool, it might be beneficial to take a step back, gain some perspective, and consider whether you'd be better off branding yourself instead as the all-star team player.

4. Branding Yourself as Someone You're Not

If you're lying, or even just slightly embellishing, to qualify yourself for a raise, promotion, or new gig, you're running the risk of setting yourself back five steps rather than one ahead. Whether it's saying you're an expert at using a computer program you're actually unfamiliar with or asserting that you speak fluent Spanish when you really don't, you're probably going to suffer some serious repercussions when it comes time to perform on those skills and you fall short. Half of all employers said they would automatically dismiss a job candidate if they caught a lie on his or her resume, according to a nationwide survey by CareerBuilder.

5. Over-Extending Yourself Financially

Maybe you broke your budget by self-funding a flight to Colorado for a meet-and-greet with company executives that very well may not hire you. Or you joined the ritzy golf club you can't really afford because your boss belongs there and you're hoping to get some more face time. Perhaps it was a new business suit you splurged on in hopes that it might improve the outcome of your annual performance evaluation meeting. If you're spending money you don't have on things that very well may do nothing to advance your career, stop. Long shots aimed at making gains in the office aren't worth the risk of financial ruin.

What career tactics have you tried — only to have them backfire? Please warn others in comments!

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