Mistakes every engineer should avoid early in their career

There are some actions which can have a negative impact on your career, especially when you are just starting out. While it may be exciting to land your dream engineering job, how you conduct yourself within the workplace greatly impacts the success of your future. Everyone is bound to make mistakes at some point in their career. However, the way you handle it will determine your progress and the number of opportunities that will be open to you. These are some of the mistakes engineers should watch out for early in their career:


Sometimes we get into a job with very high expectations. Often, we compare our progress with that of our friends or people we admire and may get frustrated when we fail to make leaps and bounds professionally as they are doing. Rather than biding time to learn and grow, we become disgruntled and in some cases unproductive. It is important to remember that success takes time and our careers will often be punctuated with ups and downs.

Offensive and incriminating information on the internet

While you may want to look cool by telling the world how wasted you got the previous night and skipped work, your boss will certainly not think you are cool in any way. Increasingly, many people have compromised their professions by posting vulgar, incriminating or offensive information on the internet forgetting that employers worldwide can easily access it through a simple search. If you want to get ahead, keep some pieces of information away from the public eye.

Job Hopping

People change jobs for different reasons but leaving because your boss criticized you in-front of your team or you have to get to work early is not advisable. There will always be aspects of our job that will not hold much appeal and switching jobs too frequently tends to give a bad impression to employers, who will avoid hiring you.

Failing to plan

It is important to lay out an idealistic plan for your career, mapping out both your short and long term goals. Engineers who fail to plan often find they are stagnant in a position for too long and may not take advantage of various opportunities that come up.

Getting too personal

Sharing too much personal information with your boss and co-workers is not a good idea. In the short term it may earn you some friends and provide numerous short term benefits. However, it won’t be too long before some of this information creeps into your work and people start taking you for granted. Always maintain a boundary between your work life and personal life.


Keep time

It is always important to keep time. When handling a client’s project, do your best to meet the expected deadlines and if not, make sure they are aware of it. Respect office hours and arrive early for meetings. It shows respect for other people’s time and they will be more willing to listen to what you have to say.

Refusing to be accountable

Success is defined by the ability to take ownership for your successes as well as your failures. Whatever projects you take on in the workplace you must be ready to account for the outcome and use the lessons learnt to build your career.

Neglecting to build up or utilize your contacts

Grow your professional contacts as much as possible. These networks often lead to new jobs, valuable information and in some cases, long-lasting friendships. Our networks can provide mentors, future clients and business partners.

Failing to learn new things

The engineering field is ever-changing and to keep up, engineers must constantly keep their education at par. This can be achieved by taking on further courses in school as well as implementing lessons that can be learnt from our work mates. You can only excel in your career if you pay attention to how you learn and grow.

Asking the wrong questions

During the interview process, it is important to find out what the company has to offer and how you will fit in to the overall strategy. Have everything laid out – from your responsibilities, the person you shall be reporting to, the company history and culture – and if it is in tandem with your personal career goals.

Downplaying your achievements

If you want people to notice you, sing your own praises. That doesn’t mean bragging about it through every possible avenue. Get your supervisors and co-workers to recognize your efforts. Don’t cower behind your bosses and colleagues or let them take credit for your ideas.

Do not think you are irreplaceable

Sure, you are a star and there is no denying that the work you bring in is invaluable. This does not excuse an inflated ego and acting like the entire organisation will crumble without you around. As soon as you start to act like only you can get the job done, your star will begin to diminish in the eyes of your colleagues.


Failing to take risks

If you ever really want to succeed, do not be afraid to take a risk once in a while. Sometimes the turning point in your career will come by doing something entirely different as opposed to going along with the crowd and playing it safe each time.

Giving out confidential information

Every company has its share of secrets. As an employee, you are bound to guard and maintain utmost discretion when it comes to your employer’s confidential information. Do not share it with competitors, clients or even your friends no matter how harmless you may think it is. Your employer will never trust or forgive you if they find out.

Burning your bridges

As you move from one company to another, it is important to leave in a cordial manner. Even if your former colleagues were not the easiest to get along with, do not leave in a huff as you will probably meet them again sometime in the future. They may even help propel your career further.


Being dishonest about your skills, qualifications or achievements during the interview process may give you leverage and help you land your dream job. However, this lie will probably catch up with you once you start working and fail to deliver on basic things that you promised you could handle.

Poor resume

Keep your resume updated at all times. Your resume is a powerful statement that you send out to potential employers and a poor or incomplete resume will ruin your chance of employment. Update it frequently and keep it clear and concise.

Ignoring the office rules

Even if they seem silly, be sure to adhere to the policies of the company you are working for. You want to show your employer that you will fit in and be an asset to them. Do not show up in casual wear when the dress code clearly outlines a more professional look.The office is not the place to play the rebel.

Over – education

Is it a bad mistake to further your education? Certainly not but be careful that your focus doesn’t solely lie on collecting degrees that you overlook building up your experience. The engineering field values an educated engineer with experience and skills to back it up. Just because you have a slew of Masters Degrees does not guarantee a promotion or even better pay.

Relying too much on others

Your boss is not responsible for your success. You are. If you want a promotion or a raise, go out and ask for it. Don’t sit quietly in your corner and grumble about being over-looked. Want to change jobs? Don’t place all your faith in headhunters, placement agencies or other people who may claim to have an answer to your problem. Take initiative and gain control over the direction of your career.

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