I believe this year is going to be nothing short of phenomenal – especially when we are not only willing to do the work, but when we understand what absolutely will not work as I relates to career success!!

While I understand life happens and there are some things that are beyond our control, there are aspects of our lives that we have 100% control over. Make this the year that you do exactly that: focus on what you can control, exude confidence and dare to make bold career moves!

Below you’ll find my top 20 career management mistakes women can’t afford to make in 2020. Feel free to share this information with other women who can benefit so that they too can experience career success!

Mistake #1: Not being able to say “no”

No is a decision; yes, is a responsibility.
Be careful what (and who) you say yes to. It will shape your day, your career, your family, your life.

Mistake #2: Thinking you have to have the answer to the problem to speak up

According to Dr. Mary Lippit:

“You can speak up or challenge an idea without painting yourself as a contrarian; ask for specifics in a collaborative, supportive way. For example, “This sounds very promising. I’d like to understand a little bit more. Are there any potential risks associated with it?” or “I like that idea. Can we dig deeper?” When you help an organization avoid a pitfall, you’re seen as a key player.”

Mistake # 3: Failing to manage their career like a business

Not only should women think and act like an entrepreneur within the walls of an organization, they must be agile, resilient and positioned to pivot based on the company’s needs without compromising their values and performance.

Mistake #4:  Failing to manage your emotions

The way you react to situations will have an impact on the way people perceive you. Identify and analyze your emotional responses so you can better manage them and your reputation.

Mistake #5: Receiving sub-par feedback

Developmental feedback men receive can be linked to specific business outcomes and is actionable. If you’re not receiving the same level of feedback, say something.

Mistake #6: Failing to cultivate social capital

Actively connect with junior-level employees and senior leader mentors/ sponsors; then create networking opportunities regardless of level so you can lift as you climb. Your network isn’t just for you, it’s so that you can also serve as a catalyst for growth in others.

Mistake #7: Talking themselves out of their own success

Believe in yourself and your expertise. Men apply for jobs when they meet ~60 % of the hiring criteria, while women wait until we meet 100%. Abandon perfection; see opportunities everywhere then seize them.

Mistake #8: Failing to audit their skills

Whether you’re looking to move into a position of leadership or if you’re already in one, it’s important to understand the skills you need to carry out the role, your strengths and the areas you need to improve upon or develop. Don’t just consider your current role – think about future moves as well and assess the skills you possess in addition to the ones you need.

Mistake #9:  Playing the wrong position in this career game

One of the best positions to play is that of an observer as you analyze your company’s culture. You’re required to have responses to 3 key questions: Who are the winners, who are the losers and what’s contributing to their outcome? Success leaves clues and people will always show you what to do as well as what NOT to do.

Mistake #10: Using tenure to advocate for yourself

When it comes to positioning the conversation for a raise or a promotion, many women make the mistake of assuming tenure will make a big difference. “It’s the ‘I’ve been here [x] years and it’s my turn’ mentality. Today, it’s all about the value you’ve produced recently, especially in the last six months. Paint a picture of your impact; focus on the value you’ve added recently,” says Dr. Mary Lippitt

Mistake #11 Failing to identify your 3 W’s:

Who am I? Define who you are in absence of your title. Think strengths, competencies and collective career experience.

Why am I in this role and how long will I occupy this seat?

What are my results? Own your outcomes and communicate them.

Mistake #12 Neglecting powerful communication strategies

Because every conversation is a business conversation, women must be prepared to speak at any point in time about the current state of their work and how it relates to the company’s goals.

Mistake #13 Playing it safe with silence

Use your voice to share your point of view and ask for what you want as well as what you need to achieve career success, which should include obtaining relevant information in a timely manner.

Mistake #14 Working in reverse because you’ve ignored the invisible rules

(1) observe who wins, who loses and why

(2) learn from the mistakes and achievements of others

(3) apply what’s been learned and/or observed to accelerate career advancement

Mistake #15 Failing to connect your ability to solve problems with credibility

(1) identify an organizational problem or opportunity

(2) gather information which includes: consulting others, assessing trends and reviewing facts/data

(3) once your fact- finding mission is complete, confidently present your solution

Mistake #16 Acting as if office politics will magically disappear

Understand that while you may loathe office politics, there is a game in play. You must know the written and unwritten rules of your organization. You must strategically position yourself by leveraging your relationships and strengths. Although observation is necessary, you must do more than observe from the sidelines; you must insert yourself into the game at the right time so you can experience your win.

Mistake #17 Making inaccurate career assumptions

  • You shouldn’t leave managing your career to chance or to anyone else. It is YOUR responsibility and it will not happen without your efforts.
  • You shouldn’t assume you will be compensated fairly. It is your responsibility to know your value, your worth in the marketplace and to negotiate.
  • You shouldn’t think that your resume and interview will be enough. These things will help you progress through the hiring process, but managing your career is much more than that.

Mistake #18 Shrinking

We undervalue and lessen our credibility when we place the word “just” ahead of our title, accomplishments and attributes. From an early age, women generally speaking are taught to focus on the needs of others vs promoting their own interests. Speak up!

Mistake #19 Falling into “The Comparison Trap”

You have strengths; master a skill if need be and know you are ENOUGH!  When you say “_____ is much better at……”, it positions you to play from an inferior plane which should never be an option.

Mistake #20 Failing to make a PowHer Move because you believe mobility must be upward when in actuality, sometimes an interim move is required.

  • Lateral – Move across the organization to a different business unit, product line, department or functional area
  • Vertical – Move up in another division or organization to open doors; move into management or move upward
  • Realign – Move down; move into another functional area or profession with more options
  • Relocate – Move out and on! Switch employers to change industries, move geographically or simply transition into another organization (same field)

Now that you have my top 20 mistakes, what’s your plan for not making them? Focus on the top 5 that are causing you the most professional pain; the ones that will undermine your success this year and create a plan to avoid those mistakes at all costs.

Let’s continue this conversation online in my Facebook or LinkedIn Group. Join me in Confident Career Woman. I’d love to hear which mistakes hit home for you!

Ericka Spradley is the Chief PowHer Officer/Founder of Confident Career Woman which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. Ericka is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit: ErickaSpradley.com