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3 Common Mistakes Women Make That Can Derail Their Careers


Lois Frankel, author of Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office, says there are at least 133 mistakes women make that take their career off-track. If that seems like a lot, Vickie Elmer of Quartz points out that it’s 33 percent more than Frankel listed when she first published the book 10 years ago.


(Photo Credit: erix!/Flickr)

Why so many? Well, in part, Frankel tells Elmer, it’s because the Recession has created an “increasingly competitive marketplace.”

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Among these common mistakes:

1. Doing the impossible.

If you make it work, no matter how tight the deadline or non-existent the budget, you’re MVP, right? Well, sort of. The problem is, if you do the impossible too often, you’re likely to find yourself stuck in place. After all, why would the boss promote someone who’s so good at making things work at their current level? Frankel reminds us to take time to develop our own careers, and not just focus on doing our present job better than anyone else could.

2. Protecting jerks.

Women are “jerk flypaper. Not only do we attract them more than men do, but we also tolerate them longer,” writes Frankel. It’s not your job to tolerate intolerable people. Remember that you teach people how to treat you, and if you teach them that you’ll put up with anything, you’ll be forced to put up with everything.

3. Serving as the conscience.

While no one would suggest that you become completely amoral and let your company and colleagues get away with illegal or unethical activities, it’s true that many women put themselves in the position of always being the one to speak up about relatively minor problems. Be the whistleblower if you have to, the theory goes, but don’t expend your social capital on every infraction. If the company is that badly behaved, it’s probably time to look for a new job.

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What’s the worst career mistake you’ve ever made? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Blaming lack of success on other people.  A recent example is a woman I have worked with who feels that she would have been successful if it wasn’t for men’s attitudes towards women. My observation is that she completely lacks courage, both in taking responsibility and in dealing with people. How can you expect to be given the big jobs when you avoid responsibility? Being female seems to work more in her favour because seniors in this industry are overwhelmingly… Read more »

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