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5 Career killers you need to avoid

Written by Lenny Sluyts on 10 November 2020 for Professionals

Are you happy with the current status of your career?

You have probably worked hard to achieve it. It has taken you a lot of time, dedication and effort.

Coming so far, the last thing you want, is to make a mistake that ruins all your progress. It can happen, even without you realizing it. Before you know, you commit a slip-up that destroys everything you have worked for. So keep reading if you don’t want this to be you…

In this article we take a closer look at the 5 biggest career killers and, more importantly, how you can avoid them.

#1 Being an unreliable team player

Your superiors and your colleagues want to be able to count on you. They expect quality and dedication, in terms of the work you deliver, but also as a reliable part of the team. This means that you must continuously pay attention to meeting agreements and deadlines, arriving on time, keeping order, etc.

Nobody likes to work with a colleague who does not take his or her responsibilities, does not keep agreements or is absent-minded about everything.

How to be a reliable team player

  • Start working on time management: Having difficulties with arriving on time or meeting important deadlines? Consider a time management course to simplify how you work, do things more efficiently and relieve stress.
  • Organize yourself: Distinguish the to-do’s that affect your colleagues from those that don’t. Focus first on the activities that affect others. Classify them in terms of urgency and then start with the most critical pile.
  • Communicate clearly: Is it hard to prioritize your to-do list? Ask your colleagues to help you. Having delays on commitments? Inform others early and honestly about the expected delay.

#2 Being unwilling to learn

Even if you have the right skills, you always need to freshen up your skillset to survive in your profession. The IT sector is one of the fastest evolving industries. You will not survive in the future with the knowledge and skills that you have today. If you want to excel in your profession and build a respectable career, you must be willing to continuously learn.

How to set yourself up for life-long learning

  • Leave your comfort zone: When faced with a challenge, look for new answers. Analyze the problem to find new ways of tackling the same problem. You might bump on better solutions you didn’t think of earlier.
  • Open yourself up to learning: Start by listening to other people’s ideas. Invite your workmates to share their thoughts and show that you are interested. Do not judge too quickly and focus on the opportunities instead of the obstacles of new ideas.
  • Work from outside in: Instead of approaching a challenge from your point of view, start from the demand characteristics of the job. Think of the target audience, the current situation and the desired results. What is the most effective way to come to the best solution?

#3 Missing leadership skills

Teamwork is inevitable to accomplish difficult tasks such as building large systems or implementing complex processes. Well-functioning teams always outperform people’s individual efforts. For IT team leaders, the ability to build a well-functioning team is crucial for success. In that regard, leadership skills are even more important than technical skills.

How to become a good team leader

  • Develop your people skills: A lot of managers are great with ideas, processes, or situations, but not so good with people. Yet, the secret often lies in the little things. Taking time to listen to your team members, encouraging their contributions, explaining the bigger picture, etc.
  • Let team members’ strong points come out naturally: Don’t force roles on members of your team. The importance of team building sessions and parties is often underestimated. They improve team cohesion and motivation and help people to grow into roles.
  • Leverage the use of rewards and words to instill togetherness: Always show that you are thinking about the team. Use “we” and “us” to entice everyone to strive for the common goals. Reward all members together as one team.

#4 Being unreceptive for feedback

To grow into your role, you must be willing to learn, also from others. Some people are not receptive for feedback, be it from their manager or a colleague. They perceive it as negative comments or keep persisting in what they think is right. This stubbornness is one of the most underrated career killers as it can be perceived as an unwillingness to adapt, learn or, even worse, outright disobedience.

How to open up for feedback

  • Pay attention to feedback: Many people miss important feedback on a project just because they didn’t listen closely. Whether you agree with a person or not, it’s crucial to pay attention. This way, you may understand the reasoning behind the comments.
  • Act on feedback: Listening to feedback is one thing, but to grow, you also need to act on it. Think how the feedback will affect your performance? Only by taking action, you develop and improve yourself. And that is beneficial, both for you and your team.

#5 Being Non-Strategic

Strategic thinking is a crucial skill in any company, as it helps to achieve goals more rapidly. It is not just about solving today’s problems, but about planning for the future.

Strategic thinking is the ability to:

1.      Identify opportunities and anticipate to important shifts in the marketplace

2.      Making the right decisions and taking the appropriate actions to become more successful

A strategic mindset helps you to allocate the right resources to the right actions. It is a high-valued skill, that few people have been given. But just as any skill, you can cultivate it.

How to cultivate a strategic mindset

  • Acknowledge the value of strategic thinking: Some people think that strategic planning is a waste of time. Although not all strategic plans happen as projected, having one is critical any organization. A lack of strategy is one of the most important causes of company bankruptcy.
  • Start by delegating tactical work and focus on strategy: Most people focus on today’s problems and forget about long-term strategy. A good strategy helps to focus on the right priorities and avoid wastage. Delegate tactical activities and set aside an hour a day to make a strategic plan.
  • Embrace uncertainty: Strategic planning requires making projections into things unknown. It’s always about subjective estimates.


To let your career flourish, it’s important to stay relevant in your field. Present yourself as a positive, proactive team player who is keen on contributing important ideas and improving skills.

Eager to take your career to the next level in an innovative tech company? Contact us today!

About Exellys  

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We match ambitious companies with the finest tech talent. Are you ready to drive the innovations of tomorrow? Ready to make an impact and become a future-fit digital leader?

Whether you are a graduate or (young) professional, Exellys will unlock your full potential by guiding you to a challenging work environment that perfectly matches your personality, expectations and ambitions.

On top of that, you are enrolled in one of our very own training and coaching programs (based on your personal and professional ambition and experience). This means that, while working as an Exellys consultant, we are helping you to bridge your ambition to excellence.

Through intensive training and coaching, you’ll gain the essential skills, competencies and knowledge necessary to become the highly effective professional you aim to be.

Become an Exellyst and get in touch with us today!