Help! I Think I Made a Career Mistake

Kellie Hanna, CPRW By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: May 25, 2023
Man rubs eyes in frustration in front of laptop

All over the internet, students and working people can find advice to help them navigate their careers. If you’d like to learn how to network, lead a team, execute a complex project, or even get dressed in the morning, you can easily find a host of business experts who are more than willing to help. Some of the best advice we’ve ever seen goes back to the days of Dale Carnegie and it’s still perfectly relevant today. For example:

  1. Keep conversations focused on others, not yourself.
  2. Dress for success. Wear outfits that reflect the way your company would like to appear in the eyes of its customers.
  3. Shake hands, make eye contact, smile, and stand up straight.
  4. Follow through on your commitments and communicate often and clearly with your partners.
  5. Make smart decisions. Before you make any move, consider the future.

These are wise and timeless tips, for sure. But we’re all human beings. And sometimes, for a long list of reasons, we know we should do these things…but we just don’t. So if you make a career mistake and steered yourself full speed down the wrong path, what should you do? Here are a few classic scenarios and our guidelines for each one.

1. I Chose the Wrong Job

You had a few offers and after weighing all the pros and cons of each, you made a careful decision. And it was the wrong decision. Now you wish you had a time machine. You’d give anything to abandon position A and accept the (now long lost) offer for position B.

But you don’t have to be a prisoner of your past decisions. Keep the position you have for now, but quietly start looking for a new one. You can even go back to your B employers, re-submit your resume, and explain that you’ve changed your mind and would like another chance to join the team.

2. I Made a Bad Impression

If you made a thoughtless remark or accidentally attended a client meeting with mustard on your shirt, all is not lost. Try this: determine if your joke/remark/mustard stain actually hurt anyone, or if it just made you look like a goofball. If you hurt someone, gather your courage and apologize. If not, gather your courage and apologize to yourself. In both cases, drop the subject after the apology has been issued and make an honest effort never to do the same thing again.

3. I Made the Wrong Friend/Enemy

Respectfully but firmly back away from a toxic person who you befriended (or alienated) before you understood how much damage this person could do to your career. And if you missed a chance to connect with someone who could have helped/taught/supported you on your way up the ladder, don’t worry. You’ll have another chance, either with her or with someone else. Just be ready when that chance comes.

4. I Chose the Wrong Career Altogether

If you’d like to step into a career that’s completely different from the one you have, envision your mind as a stove with various pots on various burners. And move this pot to the front burner of your stove. Keep stirring, and keep thinking about this situation until it reaches a boil.

A mid-life career change can be a serious move, requiring determination, commitment, and courage. Let your pot simmer until you really know for sure that this move is the right one for you. When it’s time to take action—go back to school, start your own business, etc.—do so with conviction. First meditate, then plan, then execute.

A Great Resume Solves Almost Any Career Problem

No matter what kind of pickle you’ve gotten yourself into, a great resume can help steer you back onto the right path. Your resume can get you out of a bad job, into a great new career, or onto center stage in front of contacts you’d like to impress. Visit MyPerfectResume and start creating this all-purpose career tool today.

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