How to commit career suicide

The internet is full of embarrassing stories of people who have ruined their careers by either an inappropriate social media gaffe or by becoming the latest YouTube sensation in an embarrassing way.

No one wants to become famous in that way; least of all lose a job because of it.  However there are much simpler ways you can commit career suicide without going to those extremes:

Don’t keep up to datecareer suicide

It’s imperative in any industry but in particular in professional services firms, that you keep up to date with changes in practice and procedure.

According to Denning & Brown in A New Culture of Learning“The half-life of a learned skill is 5 years”.  This means essentially that half of what you learned 5 years ago is now irrelevant which could mean that everything you learned 10 years ago is likely to be irrelevant or out of date.  If you don’t keep up to date with what you need to, you too will soon be obsolete and irrelevant yourself.

Indulge in office gossip and politics

If you become known as a person who indulges in gossip, innuendo and office politics, it can be career ending, not career enhancing.  You might for example take the view that “knowledge is power” but if you use that knowledge against someone it may well come back to haunt you.  Be the person instead who people can rely on to confide in and keep their confidence.

Criticise management decisions

If you want to be promoted within an organisation, you have to be seen to be supporting management decisions, not criticising them openly.  If you have a problem with a decision management has made, it is your role to deal with that in an appropriate way, and quietly, rather than get on the “criticism warhorse” with more junior staff. Leadership comes in surprise packages and this is one way you can show your potential.

Put down your previous employer in interview

When asked “Why did you leave your previous job” the worst thing you can do is start criticising your previous employer and all the things they did wrong for you.  The person interviewing you will immediately start to wonder what your contribution was to that situation and also wonder what will happen in their  employment if that’s your attitude.

Say “That’s not my job”

People who “work to rule” and seek out their position description to decide if something they’ve been asked to do is part of it, will not be perceived to be team players or working in the best interests of the organisation.  Being seen as someone that can be relied on to get a job done and participate in a team environment is the best way to be.

Behave inappropriately at social functions

You can be forgiven once for becoming inappropriately drunk at a work social function.  Possibly twice.  But if you do this every single time you go out with work friends, you will develop a reputation and soon you will find that what was once considered funny will now be considered inappropriate.  And the invitations will stop coming or people will avoid you.

Not long ago we posted a blog about your personal brand (  Your brand is about your values and what you want to be known for.  It’s best not to be known as someone who is willing to commit career suicide.