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8 Mistakes That Will Kill a Promotion

Missed Opportunities

With belt-tightening going on in places of business all over the country these days, getting a promotion can be just as difficult as getting a job in the first place.

“If you’re looking to get promoted, you can’t just do enough,” Debra Wheatman, president of CareersDoneWrite.com tells MainStreet. “You have to exceed expectations and show that you can be relied upon when the going gets tough.”

You also have to refrain from making the more subtle mistakes that many workers don’t even realize can cost them a promotion. MainStreet talked to career experts, managers and bosses to find out what common and often overlooked missteps can stop an employee’s corporate climb dead in its tracks.

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Terminal Lateness

Your boss may have accepted the fact that you’re going to get to the office five or 10 minutes past your scheduled start time, but he or she is probably not going to reward you for it. The same can be said for those who rack up an inordinate number of sick days … especially if they decide to document their “mental health days” on various social media outlets.

“If you really want that promotion, only call in sick when you’re actually sick,” says Michael Fertik, CEO of online reputation management and privacy company Reputation.com. “But if you’re going to play hooky, make sure you keep your story straight across Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare.”

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Inappropriate Social Media

In fact, anyone aiming for a promotion should be extra careful about what gets on their social media profiles in general.

“Having a Facebook page that is in conflict with your professional brand and causes leadership to wonder if they can count on you to represent them well at all times,” Carrie Kruegar, job search specialist who runs the blog Jobfully.com, says. She suggests that users rely on greater privacy settings and never post anything they wouldn't want their boss to see, regardless of whether or not he or she has actually friended them on the network.

Check out MainStreet’s look at the kinds of Facebook posts can cost you not just a promotion, but your job as well.

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Fudging the dress code

When someone starts a new job, they often make a point of dressing to the nines, but, as time goes on, adhering to a company’s dress code can become less of a priority for the less-motivated worker.  This can be problematic for those seeking a promotion since a bad wardrobe can, in fact, negate all those extra hours they’ve been putting in.

“Low cut tops and torn jeans show serious lack of judgement,” Denise Keller, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Benchmark Email, a major email marketing service, tells MainStreet. She cited it as one reason she has had to deny promotions before.

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Pigeonholing yourself

Relying on one skill, no matter how good you may be at it, isn’t going to help you move up the corporate ladder.

“To move up, you have to have insight and add value in areas outside your own domain,” Krueger agrees. “Understanding your peers' problems and contributing to solving them is an important step. Being a deep expert in one area with no knowledge of others will hold you back.”

Bruce Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing in New York, agrees. He tells the story of a copywriter who couldn’t get a promotion at a publishing house because, while she could write great copy, she was less-than-stellar at editing it.

“Nothing she wrote could ever be sent out without her supervisor checking it first,” he says. “Not only did she lose out on a promotion, but eventually she was fired because, in order to meet a deadline, she sent something out, had not proofread it, and she had made a big mistake: ‘incontinence’  instead of ‘incompetence.’”

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Violating the chain of command

You may think that reaching out to other higher-ups is a great way to make a name for yourself, but chances are, that’s just going to alienate and upset the person you are actually supposed to report to.

“Don’t go over your bosses’ head,” Wheatman says, explaining that moving up in a company is hard to do when your direct supervisor isn’t in favor of it. “That’s a great way to get off the promotion list.”

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Laying blame

Suzie Co-worker may have failed to turn in her part of your team’s project on time, but blaming her isn’t going to earn you any gold stars.

“The buck starts with you,” Wheatman says, explaining that an employer will only want to promote someone who can motivate others or assume control of a project so that, no matter what, it gets done on time.

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7 Toxic Co-workers

Laying blame isn’t the only type of toxic behavior that can happen among co-workers in the office. See what other types of bad behavior can be bad for your work life in MainStreet’s look at seven toxic co-workers.

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