7 signs you’re self-sabotaging your career

Today, it’s not tough to look good and set yourself apart in the corporate environment. In fact, showing up on time —whether you work remotely, hybrid, or a full in-office week—and caring about your job is often enough to put you above the majority of your coworkers. 

I started my 14-year career in information technology as a software developer. By the time I retired, I served as the Director of Information Technology. 

I know what it takes to elevate a career from both sides of the interviewing table

If you want to advance your work life, one of the best things to do is make sure to avoid the self-sabotage pitfalls that I have seen too many fall into. 

Here are the seven signs that you are hurting your career advancement. 

1: You do the bare minimum

When promotion time comes around, managers are looking to promote people who go above and beyond the call of duty. If you’re one of those people who calls it a day after doing just enough to complete your job, then chances are you’re not setting yourself up for the next promotion. 

2: You show up late

My dad always used to tell me that “showing up is half the battle”, and in the course of my career, I’ve come to realize just how true that is. Show up on time every day and you will quickly demonstrate your dependability. Be the person who gets there before your boss if you can.  

3: You pick fights

Nobody likes a troublemaker, and this is especially true in an office. If you like to pick fights (not physical, of course!) with your coworkers, you are hurting your chances of career growth. People won’t want to work with you, and you’ll miss out on many career-advancing opportunities. For example, chances are you won’t be referred by former coworkers to work with them over at the other company that pays more. 

4: You constantly complain

Complainers are a dime-a-dozen. Set yourself apart by not complaining. You won’t like everything about your job, but voicing your concerns in the office could annoy your coworkers and convince your boss that you’re not right for more responsibilities out of fear that you’re alienating the office, or might quit at a moment’s notice. 

5: You say “no” to opportunities

Nearly all of my promotions have come from embracing new opportunities. Especially scary ones. 

Psychologically, it’s easy for us to assume that “we’re not ready” for a promotion or that we don’t know enough to do the job. But, resist that constant negativity. Taking advantage of opportunities is how we grow careers. Sometimes, we might bite off more than we can chew, but humans have a way of adapting, too. Learning as we go. 

Quit saying no to opportunities. 

6: You never ask for raises or promotions

Sometimes, we just need to ask for raises and promotions. Even if the answer that you get is “no”, you still told your boss that you’re a team player and interested in taking the next step. He or she will likely remember that the next raise or promotion cycle comes around. 

And, you never know what opportunities exist that you don’t know about. Asking for raises, promotions, and opportunities opens the door for healthy conversations that can turn into your next chance at advancement. 

7: You say “that’s not my job”

Team players get promoted. If you are especially rigid at work, you are destroying your opportunities for advancement because your organization may not be able to depend on you to just get things done. Saying “that’s not my job” could be a one-way street to career stagnation. 

Or, even a demotion or firing.