8 Bad Habits That Can Ruin Your Career

It doesn’t take a scandal or major business mistake to have your career ripped out from under you. People can get passed over for promotions or even lose their jobs thanks to their own poor behaviour in the office. Avoid these seven bad habits to keep your career shining.

Office Gossip

Whispering about what Jennifer in Accounting was wearing or who Mike in Marketing was quietly lunching with might be fine if you work for a tabloid, and if Jennifer and Mike are celebrities. Keep the junior school gossip out of the office if you want people to take you seriously.

Resting on Your Laurels

So you were the top seller of your store last month – congratulations! Your 15 minutes of fame are up: it’s time for the next challenge. Relying on notoriety for past achievements only goes so far, and it gets stale fast. Constantly reach for the next big win.


Speaking of tooting your own horn; be careful not to boast about your accomplishments on a regular basis. Co-workers will naturally seek you out for your proven experience and knowledge, unless you keep reminding them of your star status at the water cooler. Don’t confuse healthy self-promotion with bragging. Let your accolades speak for themselves, and behold the power of modesty.

Updating Your CV and Applying for Jobs at Work

If you’re sitting at work, dreaming of a better job and have a spare moment, it’s all too tempting to quickly load up a job site and see what’s available. Then, while you’re quiet, you start writing your CV. However, this isn’t wise given the way most companies monitor employee internet access.

Degrading the Boss

He may be a real slave driver who doesn’t know a widget from his elbow and who blames his failings on others, but he’s also the guy with the power to promote you or send you packing. Vent your woes at home, but don’t talk trash about the boss with co-workers.

Poor Punctuality

You won’t get gold stars for timely arrivals at work, but people will definitely notice if you regularly arrive late. If you can’t be dedicated enough to simply arrive on time, your superiors may begin to question how dedicated you are to handling the real issues of the workplace. The simple courtesy of promptness communicates respect and dedication.


The director is droning on and on again in the conference room. You find yourself daydreaming about whether to go with beige or the steel grey for your painting project this weekend. Suddenly, you’re called upon for your input and your deer-in-the-headlights stare reveals that you have no idea what was just discussed. If you can’t keep your attention on your work, rest assured that the company will quickly find someone else who can.

Social Media Shenanigans

Rightly or wrongly, more and more companies are accessing social media sites to get information on their employees and prospective new hires. Keep pictures and comments of your wild Vegas weekend off these sites, or at the very least, tuck them away under a private section that can only be accessed by approved members. Even if you’re normally a straight-laced kind of person, just one picture of you dancing on the table with a lampshade on your head is all it takes to kiss the power of your MBA degree down the tubes.

The bottom line: handle yourself professionally to retain your professional position and safeguard your career.

Author: Lee Tonge. Having established The CV Store in 2001, Lee has become recognised as one of the UK’s leading CV writing ‘experts’ and is often called upon by some of the world’s most well-known recruiters for CV advice.