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How to Avoid Ruining Your Career
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

Career Articles
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There is an old expression: You never get a second chance to make good first impression. In a similar sense, a business career can be damaged - possibly even fatally - by making one or more seemingly minor errors or mistakes at any time during your employment, including these:

  • Presenting an unprofessional image. Allowing your office to look like your college dorm room might be nostalgic to you, but to visitors and co-workers a messy office indicates a lack of attention to detail.

  • Having what is commonly referred to as a "bad attitude." A bad attitude is easy to spot but hard to define precisely. It is likely that more people lose their jobs for a bad attitude than for lack of the requisite skills.

  • In your rush to focus on meeting the needs of your company's external customers, do not overlook the needs of your internal customers. Being seen as unresponsive to your co-workers is not good for your career.

  • Keep up with technological changes in your profession, or you risk being seen as an antique at best --- and as expendable at worst.

  • Never bad mouth management to other employees. Chances are that whatever you say will get back to the people you said it about - even when you thought you were speaking to someone you could trust and even if you told them that you were speaking in confidence.

  • Don't miss deadlines - ever. Don't expect senior management to understand or accept the excuse that unforeseen problems resulted in missed deadlines.

  • Be a problem solver, not a complainer. Anyone can point out problems. Talented and desirable employees are the ones that can fix problems.

  • If you don't have time to complete a special assignment, don't take it. If you accept it, make sure it is your top priority and that the job is done right.

  • Marketing yourself when you believe that your job is at risk may be "too little, too late." Make certain that what you do gets noticed.

  • Remain marketable [to your own employer or another company] by continually upgrading your skills throughout your career.

  • Don't steal anything ever from work. This includes office supplies, equipment, and most importantly of all - Time.

  • Do not permit an "us against them" mindset in the credit function. Your opposition is payment default and, to a lesser extent, payment delinquency. The sales department, other departments in the company and customers are not opponents - they are your internal and external customers.

  • Failure to show initiative and leadership are the traits that most companies do not want in their credit manager. Try to be recognized for your dedication, drive, attention to detail, and for your leadership.

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