As much as we all like to think we are different, we are actually rather alike. Moreover, most of us end up having similar fears and goals: pursuing our life’s passion, finding a job that truly makes us happy… Without realising it, we often act in ways that are consistent with our socialization. But there is a distinctive set of behaviours we have learned in our childhood that can ultimately jeopardise our careers as adults. Here are three common unconscious mistakes to avoid at the beginning of your career.

Acting just like an employee

mistakesYou make it through years and years of education. They teach you that thinking like A+ students will make you successful. Yet, the rules of the game change once you enter the job market. The reality is that doing a great job just is not enough. You need to be a step ahead.

Your boss doesn’t want you to be just an employee. Your boss wants you to be a partner in the process of working towards the company goals:

  • Employees do their jobs. Partners, additionally, think of ways to increase efficiency, to save their company time and money.
  • Employees just wait for assignments. Partners take the initiative: analysing information, seeking opportunities and coming up with improvement proposals.
  • Employees are like A+ students. They obediently complete the tasks assigned to them. Partners, on the other hand, diplomatically question if the assignments might be inefficient or irrelevant.

Your employer expects you to be able to cultivate long-term thinking by acting strategically and proactively.

Sounding like a child

mistakesWhen you were in elementary school, you had to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Later on, you also had to seek out your parents’ permission for certain activities. Now, as entry-level professionals, we still ask our peers and seniors for permission instead of simply informing them of our intentions.

Society expects children to ask permission, whereas adults take independent action within a given set of boundaries. For this reason, learn to use affirmative declarations. Instead of asking “would it be all right with you if I prepare the report using this structure?”, you could say: “I plan to write the report with this structure. I’d like to get your input before presenting it”. That’s being assertive and taking responsibility.

Moreover, you may have experienced a similar situation in the classroom yourself. For example, a teacher or professor asked a question and you responded by formulating your answer as a question. Just because you were a bit unsure and didn’t want to embarrass yourself in front of everyone or ‘say something wrong’. Use a question instead to show genuine curiosity, to move the discussion forward or to be sensitive to a different point of view.

Being afraid of seeking a mentor

mistakesAs beginners, we all would love to have someone to explain to us how to play the game to win in our professional field. Nevertheless, many of us are reluctant to ask someone to mentor us because we are embarrassed or think they won’t have the time. “I don’t want to become a burden for anyone!”

Mentoring is the key for young professionals to develop the skills needed to succeed in their career. Overcome your insecurities. Identify some potential mentors. Tell them you admire them and ask if they would be willing to spend a realistic amount of time to offer you some guidance. Make clear that you will be responsible for the arrangements. The easier you make it, the more likely the person is to accept mentoring you!

Do these unconscious mistakes resonate with you? Which other ones hold you back in your career?

mistakesThanks for this post go to our friend, Ana Castro, Communications Manager at askalo Jobs, a global search engine that brings together millions of jobs offers from thousands of job boards, classifieds and company websites.