Avoid These 9 Career-Killing Mistakes To Keep Your Job

Steer clear of these career-killing mistakes that can put your job at risk.
Updated July 8, 2023
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woman standing in office boardroom biting nails due to stress

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Job security can be reassuring when you feel like you have a safe position that isn’t going anywhere.

But what happens when you start to worry about losing your job? It could be due to issues beyond your control or problems you must fix to securely hold on to your position.

So if you’re trying to lower your financial stress about losing your job, here are a few things you should stop doing at work to get on more solid ground.

Negative attitude

YURII MASLAK/Adobe female boss scolding young female employee sitting at table in front of laptop in office

A negative attitude could be a red flag to your co-workers that you may not be the right fit for the office or the company. You can eliminate more money stress or fear of losing work if you have a can-do attitude instead.

Try to come to work with a positive attitude and constructive ideas for getting projects accomplished. A little can-do spirit can go a long way rather than making others think you don’t want to be there.

Neglecting professional development

Monkey Business/Adobe multi ethnic colleagues sitting at business conference applauding while smiling

An important part of your position may be to stay up-to-date with how the business operates as well as changes in your profession.

Make sure to take advantage of professional development when possible. Attend conferences to learn about new changes in your profession, or consider getting certifications that could help you, such as learning about specific software your company uses.

If you’re not sure where to start, take the initiative to talk to your supervisors to get their ideas. It will show them that you want to improve and are interested in your work.

Disregard workplace relationships

Vergani Fotografia/Adobe multi ethnic female employees standing outside workplace talking to each other while holding cups and smartphone

It’s okay if you’re one of those employees who doesn’t want to see your co-workers on the weekends or go to happy hours with them after a long day in the office.

But you should also put some effort into developing relationships with others in your workplace. That could include going out to lunch together or just chatting with them at the office.

A little effort can go a long way when building relationships with others and showing interest in your team.

Showing up late

Elnur/Adobe business man looking at wrist watch while running late for office in bedroom

You may not think it’s a big deal if you’re 10 minutes late and can sneak over to your desk thinking no one noticed.

But you may be surprised to know that your co-workers and supervisors do notice. That can be an issue if you’re already worried about other factors that could push you to lose your position.

Pro tip: If you're constantly late then you might not have enough discipline or be up to par with other aspects of your financial life. Consider comparing your financial fitness and seeing how you stack up so you know what changes need to be made.

Starting fights in the office

Prostock-studio/Adobe employees from diverse backgrounds in a boardroom experiencing conflict.

If you’re frustrated with your position, try not to take it out on others in the office or pick fights with co-workers.

Disagreements and fights could signal to higher-ups that it may be time to toss you out.

Instead, do your best to keep your emotions under control and work within the boundaries set to get your work done. Then find ways to destress outside of your office hours if you need to blow off steam.

Poor performance

pathdoc/Adobe male employee sitting at table with keyboard procrastinating his work

One of the best signs that it’s time for a company to cut you loose is when your performance drops off. Your lack of effort could show that you’re not interested in the job.

There are times when you may get frustrated both professionally and personally. Find ways to push through, and don’t let it take over your work and sink your career.

Dealing with personal issues at work

Viacheslav Yakobchuk/Adobe female personal assistant wearing suit smiling while talking on smartphone in office lobby

Personal issues come up, and balancing your work life with your personal life can be challenging.

But spending too much of your work time focused on your personal issues could cause trouble for you. Co-workers may notice a drop in productivity or willingness to help with work projects.

Try to keep your two lives separate. Leave your work stuff at the office if possible, and keep your personal issues personal.

Too many mistakes

Pixel-Shot/Adobe woman holding head after committing mistake at work

Perhaps you’re distracted worrying about your job or aren’t as focused on tasks as you used to be. These issues could cause you to make more mistakes, which can pile up and cause problems at the office.

Try and find different ways to stay on task instead, like music to help you focus or a checklist to keep you going.

Trying to be invisible

Media Bakery/Adobe african american man peeking out of his office cabin at work

It can be easy to fall into the trap of sitting in your cubicle and not interacting with anyone else in the office. Maybe you don’t want to deal with your co-workers or attend meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Instead, try to make yourself visible so your co-workers and supervisors notice the effort you’re putting in. That can give you a boost and help you stop worrying about losing your job.

Bottom line

Drobot Dean/Adobe male and female employers shaking hand with asian female employee after making deal at work

If you’re struggling financially, it may be time to put effort into your work life to secure your job better.

You may also want to reflect on your current position and consider switching positions or even companies to give you a better outlook on your job and career.

A change might be drastic but could also help you get ahead financially and secure a better future.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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