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The 4 Biggest Career Mistakes I Made in 2021 (And How I Plan to Bounce Back)

Career mistakes, whether big or small, can impact your future. But it's never the end of the road, you can still bounce back. Need tips? We’ve got your back.

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Career mistakes, whether big or small, can impact your future. But it's never the end of the road, you can still bounce back. Need tips? We’ve got your back.

Photo credit: senivpetro

Everyone wants a successful career with zero career mistakes, but messing up is human nature. So what better way to prevent you from making career mistakes than to learn from the career mistakes I made in 2021. Here is a compilation of four of the biggest career mistakes that I have made in 2021 and how you can avoid making them.

1. I did not set career goals

When I graduated from university, I was very clueless about what I wanted to achieve in my career. I thought that making money was my sole career goal. Looking back, I see how I set myself up for failure. If I had set goals, I would have had a head start on excelling in my career. However, it’s never too late. Eventually, I made a list of both short and long-term career goals.

Goals help us focus and measure our success and progress. When you achieve your short-term goals, you will boost your self-esteem and confidence. This boost of ambition will drive you towards achieving your long-term goals. Track your progress and set a timeframe for achieving your career goals. This way, you can gauge how close you are to achieving your long-term goals.

I was very comfortable in my career in 2021, which made me lose out on career advancement opportunities. Working without career goals is going to get you comfortable. This comfort will cost you your career since your dreams will be unfulfilled, and your skills will become outdated.

2. I did not grow and advance my skills and experience

Since I was very comfortable in my career in 2021, I ignored all opportunities for skill and career advancement. I did not take advantage of the many online sites offering free training and professional development courses, such as the platform. Some of these courses go as far as providing access to course materials for free and certificates from distinguished universities all around the world.

Enrolling in training and professional development courses is essential whether you are a professional or beginner in your career. Once you secure that job, fight the urge to stay in your comfort zone. Do not assume that your current success will help you get projects in the future. In this technological era, you can access online courses that can help you get more opportunities, rewards, and recognition. These new skills will make you stand out when you apply for jobs, network, and ask for a promotion or salary increase.

Apart from getting certificates from those online courses, you can attend seminars and workshops to learn more about your industry as it develops. Alternatively, you could volunteer or accept working as an intern to get the relevant experience. Experience helps you approach issues from a different perspective. Experience also allows you to make career mistakes and learn. Plus, according to Forbes, it makes your resume stand out since about 66% of employers agreed to value experience more than academic qualifications.

3. I limited my network

I am ashamed to admit that I chose to burn bridges after securing my job in 2021. This cost me a lot of potential clients and business all through the year. When I realized my mistake, I created a system that allowed me to manage my networks so that the same people could help me gain access to opportunities later on.

If you have also struggled with maintaining your network in 2021, you need to understand why networking is crucial for your career. Never forget that networking is a two-way exchange that will help you advance in your career by:


  • Helping you access career opportunities;

  • Providing recommendations for new jobs;

  • Improving your skills;

  • Allowing you to learn from the career mistakes of other people within your industry; and

  • Constantly updating you on any changes within your industry.

Research on the various associations within your industry, join and be an active member. Never miss those industry events. Keep staying in contact with your network on social media platforms. Alternatively, you can start an association if you are in an industry that does not have one. Your network is your net worth!

4. I did not value my craft

When I began my career, I was so grateful for any job opportunity that came my way. I undervalued my craft and charged peanuts for the time and skills that I applied to my job. Undervaluing my craft made me feel exhausted and reduced my passion. A few months down the line, I lost my enthusiasm and drive.

When I talked to other professionals with more experience, I realized that this is one of the most common career mistakes that graduates make. Most graduates are always so grateful to have the first job that they overlook their value. Analyze your skills, academic qualifications, and what you have gone through to perfect your craft. Always negotiate the benefits and salary offered to you before accepting the job.

Never be ashamed of informing a potential employer about what you expect in terms of salary and benefit. Analyze your experience and skills against the duties of the job offer and determine a price range that best suits you. Alternatively, you can use industry statistics to support your salary and job benefits negotiation. If you did not negotiate your pay or benefits before you accepted a job offer, consider asking your employer for a meeting to discuss a salary raise or more work benefits.

Getting a good salary and work benefits boosts your motivation and the quality of your work. So, if you value the future of your career, do not make this career mistake.


The Harvard Business Review conducted a survey that produced about 9,000 responses. This survey proved that your attitude towards your career mistakes determines whether or not you will bounce back. Most people can manage work mistakes like sending a group email unintentionally. It’s those unexpected career mistakes that catch you off guard that have the potential of damaging your future.

So, how exactly do you bounce back from career mistakes? Change how you respond to your career mistakes. Sulking for some time is acceptable, but always get up and try again.

Written by

Lilian Nerima Musonge

Nerima Musonge is a Lawyer who is passionate about Content Creation and Copywriting. She is constantly trying to broaden her artistic pursuits and find out how they can integrate with the law. When she is not squinting behind a laptop, she is mothering, cracking jokes, and living her best life

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