There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and the other line always moves faster. A career disruption is another inevitability many experience at some point in their professional lives.  

The key is to strategically deal with career pitfalls to position yourself for the next step. 

Last February, Lt. Col. Prem Vas (Ret.) guest hosted a Simplilearn webinar, explaining how to foresee and avoid career pitfalls. Prem is a qualified international business and life coach and co-founder and CEO of PremHanJay Ventures.

Prem warned that career pitfalls are inevitable. People will make a decision or experience events that can knock their career off their planned pathway.  

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Prem’s List of Expectations, Pitfalls, and Pivots 

Prem said that career pitfalls begin with expectations. These include: 

  •     Reasonable work-life balance 
  •     Aligning a career to a passion or interest 
  •     Compensation equivalent to the industry’s best 
  •     Above-average compensation 
  •     Clear career progression 
  •     Career stability until retirement
  •     Location preference
  •     Good boss to work with
  •     Hybrid workplace
  •     Gig opportunities

Prem next listed common career pitfalls: 

  •     Did not upskill to keep pace with technology and career progression
  •     Not putting forth the best effort
  •     Underestimated potential to upscale
  •     Life circumstances or events that compel you to make career choices
  •     Stayed in a comfort zone – just worked for the pay
  •     Stuck in career quicksand
  •     Complacency
  •     Job hopping
  •     Overconfidence or being self-absorbed
  •     Ignoring the writing on the wall on performance and prospects

There are also times when you decide to make a career pivot that changes the direction of your career plan. Prem said the most common reasons for career pivots are:

  •     Work is no longer exciting
  •     Inadequate compensation
  •     Lack of career growth within the company
  •     Lack of career growth in the industry
  •     Opportunities abroad
  •     Opportunities in their home country
  •     In the wrong career – probably the most difficult situation.

Anticipate and Prepare for Career Pitfalls

Prem moved quickly on to solutions — steps that one can take to anticipate career pitfalls and prepare to avoid them:

  • Avoid taking your career for granted – Don’t allow a complacency mode to set in, and don’t talk yourself into taking your current career position for granted. 
  • Upskill – Keep pace with the latest technology and ways of doing business. You have to keep pace with the change, or you become redundant. 
  • Have Short, Mid-, and Long-Term Career Goals –­ Without a goal, you don’t know how to play the game. You need short-term goals of two-to-three years, midterm can be between five and 10, and long-term are beyond that. These goals can keep changing, and Prem urges professionals to be very dynamic about them. 
  • Avoid designation and skill stagnation – Professionals will get a lot of opportunities to upskill. The world is changing, and you need to change along with the world. 
  • Resolve vertical and horizontal human conflicts – Vertical conflicts are in the hierarchy and those working for you, and horizontal are stakeholders, peers, and colleagues. 
  • Behavioral corrections – Be mindful of how our behavior is affecting others. In our desire to meet targets and objectives, we may not realize how we come across as insensitive. The person who is easier to get along with will generally win out between two choices. 

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Tools to Address Career Pitfalls

Prem outlined these commonly used tools that help professionals address career pitfalls:

  • Career SWOT Analysis – An examination of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 
  • T - Chart Analysis 
  • Psychometric tests (MBTI, Thomson’s profiling, etc.)
  • Career counselor
  • Career coach

In closing, Prem provided these self-explanatory career-saving nuggets of advice:  

  • Career decisions should be yours and yours only.
  • Have a robust financial plan aligned to your career expectations.
  • Unhappiness at work can lead to professional cancer – if you have to make changes, make them.
  • Remember to balance your career with your life.
  • Document your work.
  • Evaluate and then discuss career aspirations with stakeholders.
  • Make networking a professional habit.
  • Don’t exhibit unprofessionalism at work.
  • Don’t burn bridges.
  • Seek out a career mentor or coach.

Upskilling Is Critical

One of Prem’s essential recommendations to prevent career pitfalls and maintain career relevance is upskilling to keep your skills current. Simplilearn has many career pursuits that can sharpen your current career or set you off in an exciting, new direction. Simplilearn offers everything ranging from free SkillUp courses in digital economy skills to comprehensive bootcamps, Master’s programs, and Post Graduate Programs. Simplilearn offers many of its comprehensive programs in collaboration with major universities.