The worst career decisions I’ve ever made

From people pleasing to not paying attention filling in my application form, here are the bad decisions I’ve made in my career…

Everyone makes mistakes at work, right? Luckily for me, I’ve never worked in a role where my mistakes have had the chance to seriously affect someone’s life. Really, the only person my mistakes have affected is me. I’m not talking about accidentally sending the wrong person that bitchy email or signing off on a marketing campaign with a typo on the headline, although those do all have their place. Maybe another day. No, I’m talking about the choices that have had a lasting impact on my career and ultimately, with my positive pants on, what I’ve learned from them. Here goes…

1) Trying to get approval from people who were never going to give it – no matter how hard I worked. I used to tie myself up in knots in my previous job trying to please certain people at senior management level, because I thought that if I could just get that great sale or pull off that big project then things would shift and I’d suddenly be a serious contender for promotion. That never happened. I wish I’d cut my losses a lot earlier, but you live and learn. Ultimately I’m much happier in my new job.

2) Thinking that I had to look a certain way to be taken ‘seriously’. Ugh. I know. I hate myself for even writing those words, but when I didn’t get promoted in a previous company I worked at (the same as above) I thought it was to do with how I presented myself in the work place. Did I dress too casually, did I wear too much make-up, was my hair too… blonde? What can I say, I was paranoid. This resulted in me dyeing my hair darker and dressing smarter for work. Did it make a difference? Did it heck.

3) Applying for jobs that I didn’t actually want. I know, that sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? It was only after a terrible job interview where both me and the interviewer knew that I wasn’t the right fit for the role about ten minutes in that this really hit home. On paper the job was great – it was a marketing role and I do marketing, right? In reality, it was for a really professional, corporate business that I would have spent every day of my life loathing. The fact that I had to drag myself through to the next city and then get a taxi also meant that I was £50 down by the end of it. Lesson officially learned.

4) Not paying attention when I was filling in the ‘current salary’ section of a job application form. I (lazily) updated an older version of my application form which was stored on their website, and because of that my current salary wasn’t up to date. This meant when I was actually offered the job the salary I was offered was marginally less than what I was currently getting. Doh. It wasn’t that much of a big deal, but I always wonder if they’d have offered me more if I put my current salary in the form.

5) Thinking that freelancing was for people who were smarter / funnier / more talented than me. Aside from a couple of pitches I sent out (to Stylist of all places – who of course politely rejected them) I never even tried to freelance in my earlier career. I wish I’d got the ball rolling on it a lot earlier as now that I’ve started to realise that I’m just as capable as anyone else. I’m also just really enjoying it, and it’s given me more opportunity to learn what I want from future roles.

What is the worst mistake you’ve ever made in your career?


  1. I can relate to all of these in my earlier career days and probably the worst one was not realising I could diversify from a path of around 9 years gaining a ‘professional qualification’. I got over it and did and have a level of comfort now that means I don’t make the same mistakes or try to impress. Great reflection and sounds like you have it more sorted now 😊🙌

    Liked by 1 person

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