10 Career Mistakes to Avoid

by Mar 7, 2023

Common Career Mistakes to Avoid

The cumulative impact of all of these career mistakes is that women get stuck in the “marzipan layer” or “murky middle” where they are underpaid, undervalued, and not recognised.


10 Career Mistakes to Avoid


1. Not having a plan

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” to quote Benjamin Franklin.

It’s important to have a clear idea of your goals, values, and vision and what you would like to achieve both in the short and long term. Serendipity can work and it’s never a bad thing to be open to reflecting on opportunities that present themselves unexpectedly, but then they have to be factored into your longer-term perspectives. This may mean you have to rethink your goals. The plan ISN’T the goal.

 Create a Plan and Online Job Search

2. Not self-advocating sufficiently

Many women still sit and wait to be recognised. It’s important to be proactive, state your ambitions, and have those important conversations with your partner and family (if you have one) and your boss.

The number of women we have worked with who have been passed over for promotion because they had not shared their goals with their bosses is considerable. Don’t be one of those women.

Call out bias, sexism and discrimination when you can and find allies. if you are so ground, down go to Point 4 and ask for help or then Point 10.

Worth a read: Women & Self-advocating: can there be an “I in team? 

3. Low visibility

You will have heard the expression “your network is your net-worth.”  Networking is crucial for finding career opportunities whether on the open job market or internally. Integrate your online and in-person network and absolutely don’t wait for an emergency before you reach out to ask for a favour.


4. Afraid to ask… for most things

Women can be afraid to ask (unless they are desperate). Whether this is for better working conditions, flexibility, a promotion, a pay rise, a training course and especially for help.  If you find yourself beating your head against a metaphorical brick wall, get support before you reach rock bottom. If you are struggling look for a mentor or sponsor for longer-term guidance and with more serious challenges seek a coach or even a counsellor.

Whatever happens, if you are turned down which is very coommon, always negotiate! Then go straight to Career Mistake 10.


career mistakes


6. Not getting actionable feedback

Research suggests that women get different feedback from men which ultimately impacts their career profession and long-term salary. Don’t be fobbed off by comments on your style rather than the substance of your work.

Persist and if you hear “you can be a bit much…” (or similar) persist further and ask for specific details.

7. Not investing in professional development

There is a raging debate about who should be responsible for your professional development. There is only one person who can look after you and that is you. A growth mindset supported by active continuous learning is imperative in today’s fast-changing workplace.

Read: How to develop a growth mindset

8. Out of touch

Keeping up to date with sector and general economic trends is very important to avoid being blindsided by the unexpected. This ties into ongoing networking, continuous learning, and staying abreast of any trends with news alerts as they impact your organisation or area of activity.

You would be surprised how many of us get stuck in ruts until something extreme happens.

 Creating a Networking Strategy – 3 Plus International

9. People pleasing

Women are raised to keep the peace and facilitate good relations between all parties. Sometimes that boat needs rocking and things have to be said. It’s not necessary to cause conflict and constructive communication is obviously an idea. You are obviously only responsible for your own behaviour and can’t help how other people receive what you say. That is their problem.


Women are also trained to put their own needs last. This is why so much of the invisible housework both professionally and at home and gets dumped on their shoulders. Remember that conversation with your family.  Setting boundaries and managing expectations are imperative to avoid burnout.



10. Being afraid to walk

The cumulative impact of all of these career mistakes is that women get stuck in the “marzipan layer” or “murky middle” where they are underpaid, undervalued, and not recognised.

Knowing where your ultimate red line is and your own walkaway point then you can leave whenever you want. You have a career plan, with high visibility, and you are clear on your boundaries and willing to negotiate.

The bottom line is the system is stacked against women as it is. The United Nations  General Secretary, Antonio Guterres has just announced that gender parity is  300 years away.

Let that sink in. 300 YEARS

So it only makes sense to take charge of the things you can control and influence. Avoid making as many of these career mistakes as you can to thrive in a rigged system.


Struggling to manage your career contact 3Plus now for details of our coaching programs



Staff Writer: Career Contributor
3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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