We all make mistakes on the job, whether it's botching a presentation or showing up late more often than not. But while certain blunders are clearly bad news, what you may not realize is that minor on-the-job errors can hurt your career just as well. Here are just a few seemingly trivial mistakes that can come back to bite you.
1. Stealing office supplies
Lifting office supplies is something most of us are familiar with, and it's something most companies have come to expect to a certain degree. The problem, however, is when you take the concept too far. Rest assured that if you happen to bring home the occasional pen or notepad, your manager probably won't bat an eyelid. But if you make a habit of sneaking supplies for your personal use, someone in charge is bound to take notice. And if that happens, your job could end up on the line.
2. Blowing off steam on social media
Most of us complain about work at some point in time or another. And there's nothing wrong with airing your grievances when you sit down with your friends and confidantes. But be careful about bashing your company on a public forum, because if word gets back, you could easily find yourself out of a job. You'll need to be particularly careful if you know you have coworkers following you on social media.
Now this isn't to say you can't ever seek sympathy for a long day or tough project. But keep your commentary employer-neutral. It's OK to say something along the lines of, "It's 9:00 p.m. and I'm still at the office." But stay away from posts like, "Stupid boss made me work late again. This company bites."
3. Being too chatty at the office
It's nice to be social during the workday. Not only can it help pass the time, but it can also help strengthen your relationship with your colleagues. That said, there is such a thing as being too social, so if you come to find that you're spending more than 30 minutes a day outside of your lunch break shooting the breeze with your coworkers, it's time to start cutting back on that chitchat. You don't want to get a reputation as that person who distracts others and is too busy talking to get things done.
4. Using office resources for personal gain
We've all been known to make a personal phone call on our office landline, or use the copier on occasion. And there's certainly no reason to rethink that activity if it's indeed infrequent. But if you abuse the privilege of using office resources for your own needs, it could come back to haunt you. So resist the urge to print out 100 copies of your son's soccer team's flyer without asking. You're better off spending a little money at your local print shop than risking your job.
5. Overimbibing at company gatherings
Whether it's a departmentwide happy hour or your company holiday party, you're likely to encounter a work situation where alcohol is being served and you're tempted to enjoy it. But while there's nothing wrong with having a few drinks, don't let things reach the point where you're obviously intoxicated. Not only will this make you look irresponsible, but with your inhibitions dangerously lowered, you could end up saying something out loud that you come to regret. You're better off taking it nice and slow, and indulging in moderation.
You never know when a series of small mistakes might end up derailing your career. Avoid these blunders, and you're more likely to remain an employee in good standing.
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