Financial Literacy - Careers
6 ways to sabotage your career

Fero advises her clients to either get with the program or find a new job if it's not the right fit for them.

"I had a client recently who was unhappy with her boss and felt like the job had become too constrained. So she pierced her nose," she says.

"I had a conversation with her and said, 'Is this that important that you are prepared to take a stand over it when you've already had three people at work say they really don't think it's working?'" says Fero.

The client lost the nose ring and the attitude.

In tough economic times, considering cultural fit may not be a top priority for job seekers, who might happily take a job shoveling coal in Hades just for the paycheck. In the end, it's the employee who has to work to fit into the environment. Not fitting in may be enough to get canned.

"Performance is usually secondary to whether you think this worker is a good guy and you want to work with them," says Robinson.

"How you interact, your communication style and what you say all have bearing. A lot of people want to believe that the workplace is a meritocracy, and they'll be judged only on their work. But I can tell you point-blank that while that is a great environment to aspire to, it's not found in the workplace today," he says.

Even if the workplace isn't your style, learn to fake it convincingly -- at least until you have another job lined up.

Just say no to opportunities

Even though bosses may tell you they want honesty, the truth is they also want acquiescence. They want you to get ahead -- but on their terms.

Depending where you work, you may have up to two opportunities to say no to a project or assignment. After two turn-downs, your career could become a layer of sedimentary rock -- as in stuck at that level forever. 

"If your employer offers you a project or assignment and you turn it down, you only have that option twice and then you're dead in the water and will never get promoted again in your life," says Don Asher, author of "Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't and Why: 10 Things You'd Better Do If You Want to Get Ahead."

In tech positions, you usually get one shot at the brass ring.

"In high tech, if you turn down any assignment, you're dead. If people don't know this, they naively turn down something, thinking that something will follow. The reality is that if they turn down these interim opportunities, they don't come back to you," he says.

Robinson agrees. But accepting a chance to get ahead may involve considerable sacrifice.


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