CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 23, 2015
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5 Career Risks You Should Never Take

‘It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win.’ These are the words of John Paul Jones, a Scottish-American sailor.

See Also: How Taking Risks Benefits Your Career

While that may be true in the world of gambling and other luck-dominated activities, you should tread carefully when it comes to taking risks that have a direct impact on your career. In fact, there are some risks that you should not take at all. Read on.

1. Never Stop Learning

Some of us are lucky enough to land our dream jobs immediately after we finish our undergraduate degrees. Sure, landing a dream job is a lifetime opportunity, and you can be forgiven for getting too comfortable in the position. So comfy that you forget to engage in professional development activities such as attending workshops and pursuing advanced qualifications.

You see, so many people want your dream so badly that they can do anything to prove they’re more qualified. Sooner or later, your boss will realize there are better people out there and send you packing. Lesson? Never stop learning. If you stop, you will lose your competitive edge.

2. Never Trade Your Reputation for Anything

I don’t wish to be the umpteenth person to tell you that your reputation is everything, and you should guard it with your life. That is just the plain truth. In the workplace, having a good reputation not only helps you gain the respect of your colleagues but can also enhance your chances of getting a step ahead.

While building workplace reputation may be easy, a single act of carelessness is all you need to destroy it. With a bad or damaged reputation, you will have the extra task of trying to repair it and your career progression prospects in the company will be dealt a huge blow. Avoid office conflict, don’t misuse your social media presence and importantly, talk less, listen more.

3. Don’t Burn Bridges

Over the course of your professional life, chances are high you will move from one job to the next several times. In fact, an article published by Forbes says millennials are serial job hoppers! Now to my point. After securing a better gig, you may see no harm in developing negative relations with your current bosses and colleagues. The world goes round in circles, so don’t be surprised to meet a former boss – with whom you severed relations – in a future interview! Even if you are moving abroad, stay professional and leave with your reputation intact. You don’t know who you may need in the future.

4. Avoid Taking Risks in the Later Stages of Your Career

Risk favors the young, it appears. If you are in your 20s or early 30s, you can take risks that are not well-calculated and, if you are smart enough, get away with it. When young, you can even quit your job and start a business. Should the business fail to grow (bad business typically fail within the first five years), you will still be young enough to re-enter your career and start from scratch. But what if you make bad moves too close to retirement? You may not be able to rise from the ashes, and a blissful retirement will do all it can to avoid you!

5. Never Outshine the Boss

Never outshine the master. That is the first law of power, and one that, if applied accordingly, can grow your career. It takes hard work to become the boss, and once you get there, you will do all you can to remain in the position, including fighting off potential challengers. This is what will happen if you try acting smarter than your boss. Although there are bosses out there who have the emotional intelligence to appreciate your brilliance, they are quite a rare breed. So if you don’t want to experience hell in the workplace, just don’t outshine your boss.

See Also: How to Boost Risk Appetite for Creative Experimentation in Your Career

Finally, the intent of this article is not to discourage from taking any risks in your career. Far from it, it presents the risks that are proven to, almost always, result in disastrous ends. Before taking any risk, think it out, establish its pros and cons, and have a contingency plan in case things don’t turn out as planned.

Have you ever taken any of the risks described above? How did everything go? Your thoughts and comments below please...

 

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