Career Health Check
Episode 87 - What to do and what not to do to keep your career healthy over time
How do you keep your career healthy over time?
It's important to manage your career all the time and not just when you need it. For example, if you leave until the last minute to do a career health check, it may be too late to avoid the areas you have neglected from negatively impacting your success rate. Of course, as a career coach, it's part of my service to reverse and counteract some of these issues. But if I can share some ideas with you on what to watch out for, it will help you and make coaching smoother and more productive.
In this episode of The Job Hunting Podcast, I share a list of things you should be doing and a list of things you need to avoid to have a great career and a smooth transition to another job. These are helpful and practical tips that I think we should be reminded of from time to time. It's easy to let ourselves and others down when we get caught up with a busy lifestyle and stop paying attention.
What to do
1. Start building relationships with your colleagues
We spend so much time at work, but do we know the people we work with? I don’t mean just the person that sits next to you. I'm talking about the person at the reception desk, the people that you deal with in I.T., and so on.
Connect with people and on a personal level, and not just about work.
Connect with them on LinkedIn.
It's important to build those relationships and to connect with them. You may be able to help them, and they may one day help you. Listen to the previous episode (number 86), where we talk about reciprocal altruism and how it can help your career.
2. Engage with social activities at work
These days, there are probably not many social activities happening. But if they are happening, such as Zoom drinks or Zoom trivia night by zoom, or if your colleagues are organizing to get together for lunch after months of lockdown and working from home, don't opt out! Make sure that you connect, listen to their stories, and find out how people are going. Work social activities are not extracurricular. They are part of you being a great colleague, a leader, or a member of the team.
3. Connect with everyone and not just people with status
I recently had a conversation with one of my clients, a former CEO and a very senior executive. She was concerned that she didn't have a wide network of CEOs. She has kept in touch with people that used to work for her. She asked me if that was detrimental to her career. And I said, absolutely not.
Managing up is important and part of a good career advancement plan. But never forget that opportunities and introductions can arise from the most surprising occasions. And regardless, being a great person to all your colleagues is about being a great human being.
What not to do
Sarcasm can be funny and interesting in a social setting. But at work, it can be very undermining of other people. We live in a diverse community in a diverse world, and people have different ways of understanding others, and sarcasm is probably the hardest one.
Do not joke around during recruitment and selection. Be careful not to fall into a trap during small talk with recruiters and decision-makers. There's no such thing as small talk in an interview setting. And stay away from sarcasm.
I am the first to admit that I have been insubordinate from time to time. Nevertheless, it's a dangerous strategy, and I do not recommend it.
It's hard when there are politics in the work environment. The higher you go up in the organization, the harder it is to manage the politics and to know when you're insubordinate versus an innovative and entrepreneurial leader. Some rules are clear cut, but there are often grey areas, and you may have crossed the line and not even realized it until it's too late.
It's even harder to know when to pull back. So you have to be always in line with your boss in line with the place’s culture, purpose, goals, and strategy of what you're trying to achieve for the organization.
There are many arrogant people in leadership roles. But some are not arrogant but may appear so when they are learning to lead. I have found that it's possible to work with a client to change that perception.
If you have received feedback at work that you come across as arrogant, then there are tools and techniques that you can use to change that perception. And I'd be happy to discuss those with you. So book a time to talk to me about it.
4. Being insensitive about other employees and consultants
We don't know what's happening in other people's lives. So be careful not to judge or be insensitive with a colleague. For example:
Please don't assume that because somebody is leaving early or coming in late, they are lazy. They may have to do kids' or carers' chores, and they may get to work flexibly to accommodate their work-life balance.
Please don't assume that because somebody is acting out that they’re aggressive. Something quite serious could happen with that person at home or work that you don't know about.
Don't judge another team without knowing what they are going through, their budget, priorities, and KPIs. Remember that companies are always changing and chopping and restructuring, and you would be in a challenging situation if you were to be amalgamated with that group.
5. Being Inconsistent with your business dealings
Managing your professional reputation is about being consistent over time. So if you’re inconsistent with your business dealings, you may get stuck in the reference checks during a recruitment and selection process. I have found that reference checks are done formally and informally, which is one reason why people don't get jobs at the tail end of their application process.
6. Taking too long to get back to people
My rule of thumb is if you're at a workplace and somebody emails you, get back to that person in less than 24 hours. I have always rated people as a) those who get back to me straight away and b) those who don't. And I don't think it's surprising that the most successful people I know are great at getting back to people. Either they do it themselves, or they have systems in place.
Maintain a reputation for being the professional who responds, helps, gets stuff done, sorted, resolved, and doesn't shy away from tough conversations.
7. Taking credit for others’ work
Frankly, most commonly, job hunters don't take credit for the work they do. For example, most corporate professionals are reluctant to take credit for a team effort when answering job interview questions.
So many projects are done in teams in the corporate sector that it's challenging to identify what part of the job was your idea and responsibility. On the other hand, you don't want to take credit for someone else's work. It's a thin line at times, but you need to be careful not to cross it.
8. Indulging in office gossip
Even in the new virtual workplace, office gossip is still happening. Some companies are doing fine under covid lockdown restrictions, but others struggle with their new business models and work arrangements. Working from home, including managing teams and projects, can be very new for many, and we are only now finding our feet.
Gossip is one of the ways professionals shared their frustrations with the new ways of working under lockdown. And it's still very easy to get into it. But I recommend that you not get involved and don't initiate or add fire to it.
All of us may have made mistakes. However, the important thing is always to take time to reflect and reset to avoid ongoing issues that may eventually affect your ability to advance in your career.
If you need help with some of the strategies and advice mentioned here, please reach out to me for a private conversation here.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Timestamps to guide your listening
03:55 - DO: Build relationships with colleagues
05:59 - DO: Engage with the social activities at work
07:07 - DO: Connect with everyone and not just people with status
08:39 - DON'T DO: Sarcasm
10:42 - DON'T DO: Insubordination
12:04 - DON'T DO: Arrogance
13:05 - DON'T DO: Be insensitive about other employees and consultants
14:32 - DON'T DO: Be inconsistent in your business dealings
16:14 - DON'T DO: Don't take too long to get back to people
17:42 - DON'T DO: Take credit for others' work
18:32 - DON'T DO: Indulge in office gossip
Transcript of this episode
Renata: Well, hello and welcome to episode 87 career health check, what to do and what not to do to keep your career healthy over time. I wanted to do this episode for a long time, and I just didn't know how to squeeze that content into an episode. And then I found a way. It's so important to manage your career all the time and not just when you need it—and just remembering this cheat sheet that I'm going to give to you today may help you over time. It may also be that you have burned some bridges. I certainly have had clients, and I think I still have some that, over time, have burned a few bridges and made some of these mistakes in the past. And the coaching helps them reverse that and rebuild those bridges.
Renata: It takes time, but it can be done for sure. And some of them you do just by not paying attention, and others you do because you don't realize how important they can be. And especially when you're trying to move from job to job, and I have at times explained to my client, look, you need to build some bridges even before you look for another role. Because leaving now, your current job will negatively affect and impact your ability to get another job. So if you want to work with me, I would recommend that you stay and talk to me about some of the things that I think you should do as much as possible. And some of the things that you should avoid at all costs in your work environment and during your career, and look, you know what we will be working for a long, long time.
Renata: You and I, right? And chances are you will make some of these mistakes, but just remember when you make them that you need to stop and reverse back and find your way back to a healthy relationship with your work and with your career. Before we keep going, I just wanted to remind you to please subscribe to this podcast; wherever you found this, it could be iTunes. It could be audible, Spotify, iHeartRadio, where else everywhere. Right? YouTube, you know, we're on YouTube as well. Just like give it five stars, leave me an endorsement or a review. Write me something nice. It helps. You have no idea how much it helps. And I would be so, so grateful to you. If you take a little bit of your time to give me that gift, I would love, love, love to hear from you.
Renata: All right. So, let’s carry on. What do I think professionals need to do as much as possible? I think that number one, they should start building relationships with their colleagues. We spend so much time at work, and sometimes I find that we don't build or know much about our coworkers. And I’m not just saying that people that sit right next to you, I'm talking about the person at the reception desk, the people that you deal with in I.T., the people that are just helping, you know, doing some admin work for you, people from different areas and sectors from your organization.
Renata: I remember getting a call every now and then from finance to review my budgets or getting calls from HR. Do you know these people and who they are? You know, try to connect with people and, personally, find out something personal about them, and build those connections and those relationships. Also, find them on LinkedIn and connect with them on LinkedIn. That social platform is for work. And it's there to allow you to connect with everybody that you have met at work. It's very interesting to me when I get a new client, and I look at their LinkedIn, and they only have, I don’t know, 180 to 200 connections on LinkedIn. And I know that I have a very fulfilling career with years and years of work. And I'm sure that they match many people, but they don't have a lot of those people connected with them on LinkedIn. Now it's important to build those relationships and connect with them, and they may one day help you. And you may one day help them. Listen to the previous episode number 86, where we talk about reciprocal altruism and how it can help your career.
Renata: Building relationships with your colleagues is number one, that you can do as much as possible. Engage with the social activities at work. Now, these days of locked down, but there are probably not many social activities happening. But if they are happening, if it's a trivia done by zoom, if it's a, you know, fireside chat, or if it's any type of communal meeting as drinks on zoom on a Friday afternoon, make sure that you connect, and you find out how people are going. And don't think that those social activities are extracurricular. They are not. They are part of you being a great colleague, a leader, or a team member and be respectful in those social activities and social engagements. Play nice and make sure that you are showing up as much as you can, as part of your team, as a team member, don't forget to engage.
Renata: And number three is connect with everyone and not just people with status. I kind of mentioned that before with number one, but it's a good reminder that it's not managing up. That will help you. It's also a managing sideways of managing everywhere. Basically, just being a great human being. I recently had a conversation with one of my clients, who is very senior, and she has told me that she has kept in touch with not other CEOs, but people that used to work for her and that are, you know, a few levels below. And is that detrimental to her career? And I said, absolutely not. They are your biggest intelligence into different organizations and sectors. They may be able to help you when there is an opening; they will let you know. So many of my clients have had great advocates internally when they've applied for jobs because they were people that had worked with them or for them before.
Renata: You know, you never really know who can help you and it's not just because they can help you in the future. You just really want to be a nice person at work.
Renata: And that will help you lead and deliver your projects on time and get the help you need internally when you're struggling with a project or with a product or with the program. So remember that making those personal connections can be helpful, not just to you, but to the organization that you work for as well.
Renata: But now let's talk about what I hope you will be avoiding as much as you can. My number one pet peeve, let's call it. That is sarcasm. I hate sarcasm because I'm probably a very naive person and English is my second language. And sometimes, I'm not sure if I have understood or if the person is sarcastic. I think sarcasm is a very dangerous tool. And I know that sarcastic people are often very intelligent, but I hope that they use their intelligence differently and not be sarcastic at work. Sarcasm can be funny and interesting in a social setting. I think at work, it can be very undermining of other people. And again, you know, we live in a diverse community in a diverse world, and people have different ways of understanding others, and sarcasm is probably the hardest one. If you're new at your job, if you're a young graduate, if English is your second language, if you're not used to that sector and the jargon's, you will feel left out, and you will be left wondering what people are talking about and if they're making fun of you. So be very careful with sarcasm.
Renata: And frankly, you have to be careful with jokes in general. Now, I love jokes, and I love having fun. And I think fun has to be part of work. I prefer that you know, you be careful if you're making jokes in a setting that you're unfamiliar with—not joking around at recruitment and selection points like calls or chats or interviews. Different types of small talks are safer for you. And I like my clients to play safe, and we prep for everything, including small chat. There's no such thing as small talk in an interview setting. But definitely stay away from sarcasm.
Renata: Number two is insubordination. Now I have been one who has been insubordinate from time to time, and I'm the first one to admit it. And it's a dangerous tool to use at work. You have to be very careful, and you have to be very careful. It's hard when you're in a political environment at work, and the higher you go up, the harder it is to manage and know when you're being insubordinate and knowing when to pull back. So you have to be always in line with your boss in line with the place’s culture, with the purpose and the goals and the strategy of what you're trying to achieve for the organization. So sometimes, I have missed the mark and haven't understood what was being required of me. And I guess, you know, the insubordination was accidental at times (all the other times it wasn't), but it was still very risky. And I still think that you have to be very careful to play your cards right so that you are never at risk of losing your job. And also because it's a terrible reputation to have to reverse if you are in that dimension. So be very careful.
Renata: The third one is arrogance, and arrogance is a very difficult tool but often overused in the corporate sector. There are many arrogant people in leadership roles, and you have to be very mindful of not appearing to be arrogant. Sometimes people are perceived as arrogant when that's not what they want to portray or how they feel they are coming across. So arrogance can just sometimes be a perception, and it's possible to work with a client to change that perception. So if you are a professional listening to this, and you may have received some 360 feedback at work that you come across as arrogant, you can use tools and techniques to change that perception. And I'd be happy to discuss those with you. Just book a time to talk to me about it.
Renata: Being insensitive about other employees and consultants. That's number four for you if you're following one by one. So being sensitive about other employees and consultants, you never know what's happening outside of work. So that's why I asked you to do as much as possible in building relationships with your colleagues, but even when you don't have the opportunity to build those relationships, never assume, don't assume that because somebody is leaving early or coming in late, that they are lazy. Don't assume that because somebody is acting a certain way that they’re aggressive. We don't know what's happening with that person. So be careful not to be insensitive with other people and not to pass judgment on other people or the teams or the departments within your organization. I have also had experiences with colleagues who used to say horrible things about a different department only to join them or manage them. And, you know, you always have to remember that companies are always changing and chopping and restructuring, and you would be in a very difficult situation as either a team member or a boss. If you were to be amalgamated with that group, if you've been, you know, insensitive about what was going on with that team before. So just remember that.
Renata: Number five, being inconsistent in your business dealings. There's a lot of that I find with my clients, the inconsistency of their messaging. I have spoken about this before, most recently in episode 86. But overall, you know, I think that managing reputation and brand is all about being consistent over time. So if you’re inconsistent with your business dealings, the outcome of that could be that you go into a recruitment and selection process, and people then start looking for references. They will look for your references, both formally and informally, and they will get inconsistent results out of that. And that's one of the reasons why people don't get jobs at the tail end of their application process.
Renata: And, you know, I have, in fact, I've had a client who reached out to me, not because they were looking for work themselves. Still, they were trying to figure out how to deal with a great candidate that seemed perfect for the role, but the inconsistency of their reputation meant that the person that reached out to me didn't want to employ them. And it was very nice that he reached out to me because he wanted to make sure that he gave that person the right feedback. And I thought that was such a great way to employ me. So I thought that was brilliant. And I understand what that employer was going through. And yeah, so be careful not to be inconsistent because that can burn your reputation at the tail end of a recruitment process, for example.
Renata: Number six, be careful about taking too long to get back to people. So, my real rule of thumb is if you're at a workplace and somebody emails you, you know, no longer than 24 hours to get back to somebody that emailed you directly. I'm not talking about copying you or CC-ing you or anything like that. I'm talking about people that email you directly because they need something from you - an answer, report, document, talk to you, whatever it is, try not to take too long to get back to them. And I have always rated people as people who get back to me straight away and people who don't. And you would be surprised that the people I know that are most successful usually get back to me very quickly. Isn't that ironic. And people that take forever to get back to me, you know, it's not a good look. And I say this even if you're coming to me and asking for, you know, some feedback about my coaching, how I work, I send you my proposal, and I never hear back. I mean, really? Come on, get back to me just to say yes or no. And in that case, I'm assuming a no, of course, but you need to maintain a reputation of somebody who responds, who gets back, who doesn't shy away from something tough, just reach out and get back to that person and close that chapter.
Renata: Number seven, taking credit for others’ work. Now, this is a tough one for me to add to this list, because frankly, often, it's the other way around when people are going for job interviews; they are afraid of taking too much credit for a team's work. And these days, it's quite hard and challenging for people to identify what part of the job was their responsibility, and they're doing, vis-a-vis what the entire team has done. And, you know, I spend a lot of time in consultations or with coaching clients, workshopping, and working out how to answer questions correctly. But definitely, you don't want to take credit for other's work. That's a complete, no-no so easy these days to find out, and you don't want to be in that situation at all.
Renata: And the last one, number eight, is indulging in office gossip. That's such an easy trap to fall into. And you may just think you're talking to a colleague about something privately and the last thing, you know, it's become a gossip.
Renata: It's all over town, and you're just adding fire to it. It's just not a good look. It's not something that you want to be involved with at all. And I think that even in the virtual workforce, it's still very easy to get into office gossip these days. I remember when was this? Oh gosh, was it a real situation or a movie? I’m in lockdown, so I can't remember. I think it was a real situation when a client of mine said, oh, we went into this meeting, and it was all about how we needed to be nicer to each other and not talk shit behind other people's back. And then some of us left and went to have a beer and continued to talk shit about other people's backs. And I'm like, okay, I could see that happening. And that's such not a good look these days with the pandemic and virtual workforces and managers really, relearning how to manage and lead people remotely at a distance. Things are not going so well. Some companies are doing fine, but others are still trying to find their feet, how they structured themselves in the future, how they build virtual workspaces, how they bring people back into the office; it’s all something new for everybody. And because of that, there is a lot of gossips, and I urge you not to engage with those.
Renata: Have you enjoyed this episode? Has it helped you? I'm just wondering here because I wanted to share all of these ideas with you, and not sure how it went. I never do because I record these things by myself in my office, and then a week or so later, it goes out into the podcast world. And that's when I start getting feedback, and I love getting feedback. So if you're signing up for my newsletter and got this podcast episode sent to you in the newsletter, just reply to the newsletter and tell me what you thought. And if you want, you need to tackle a different subject next time. I'd love to hear ideas from you. Also, don't forget to give me a review or a five-star rating on iTunes or wherever you found me click like on YouTube. It helps other people find this podcast and make my job promoting it way, way easier. And to thank you for giving me some feedback and some love, I have some free resources that you can access on my website, https://www.renatabernarde.com . There's a link to it in the episode, show notes. So go there, check it out. And don't forget, if you haven't subscribed to my newsletter, you can do that on my website as well. Bye for now. And until next time.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
Contact Renata Bernarde
I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.
My free resources for job hunters: The Optimized Job Search: Weekly Schedule & Masterclass.
Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching: RenataBernarde.com