A group of young workers were staying in an upscale hotel in the business district of a major city for a week of corporate training. On their first evening together, they all enjoyed a night on the town. Later, when they returned, one of them, in a drunken stupor, made a fatal mistake -- a real career killer.
She set off the fire alarm. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Hundreds of hotel guests were evacuated into the street at 11 at night while, at the same time, a senior vice president, also staying there, wandered into the lobby from his own night out. He asked one of the trainees what was going on and discovered the perpetrator had been someone from his company.
Security tapes were reviewed, people were questioned. The woman who sounded the alarm did not show up at training the next day -- or at her job except to clean out her desk.
Moral of the story? It can take only one really dumb decision to derail your career.
Major career meltdown moments aren't the only ways to sink a career though.
"Careers are rarely sunk by a single incident and if they are then it is clearly something dramatic," says Will Robinson, co-founder of VirtualJobCoach. "Most damage is usually longer term."
6 ways to damage your future:
- Bash your employer in public.
- Mix pleasure with business.
- Fudge the truth.
- Be real regardless of the culture.
- Just say no to new opportunities.
- React poorly to stress or fear.
Bash your employer in publicForget about ever getting a glowing letter of recommendation if you tell the world how you really feel about your job and employer.
Lynne A. Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University in Boston, relates a story about a senior vice president who came into the office one morning obviously upset about something. "You could all but see the steam coming out of his ears," she says.
"Apparently, he had been riding the T (a subway in Boston), and one of the employees was on the train talking to someone -- in a loud enough voice to be overheard -- bashing his manager and the company."
The senior vice president relieved the employee of his misery. He was fired.
Employees are, of course, entitled to their opinions and can't be forced to love where they work. But they're also ambassadors for their company. Refraining from publicly trashing the organization or the people that you work with is just common sense.