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You won’t be promoted if you do this – and you may be fired

When your boss reviews your work, typically she’ll suggest some improvements and correct some errors. It’s the errors that are really dangerous to your career.

There are two kinds of errors. First, there’s the harmless kind, where you make a mistake that just about anyone in your shoes would make. You are new on the job, for example, and still learning the ropes. There are lots of other acceptable ways in which you might screw up.

The second type of error is the career-killing sort. If your boss finds easily preventable errors in your work, you will be lucky to keep your job and definitely won’t be promoted if you repeat them regularly. What’s an easily preventable error? That’s an error that –

  • you could have detected yourself by checking your own work or
  • you’ve been trained not to make and to watch for or
  • is due to haste, inattention and carelessness.

When you make easily preventable errors, you’re telling your boss that you need babysitting. Trust me, she doesn’t want to be your babysitter! If you really want a promotion, you will need to show your boss the opposite, that you are ready to babysit others.

catching your own mistakes

Show your boss you don’t need babysitting by checking your work carefully before delivering it:

  • Proofread by reading out loud – you will catch many more mistakes, if not all of them. Next, scan your writing backwards. Yes, I mean that – start with the last word on the page and work your way from right to left, bottom to top. Both of these techniques prevent your brain from running on autopilot, which is how you miss mistakes.
  • Have a coworker or friend review your work. Sometimes you are too close to a project and know too much about it to step back and see it the way it will be perceived by others.
  • Give it a real-world test. Run through the process from beginning to end without skipping any steps or making any assumptions.

Make checking your work a habit and you’ll build trust with your boss that will eventually get you promoted.

Get the ebook! If you liked what you read here, and think you may want to refer back to this guide later, grab the Kindle version – we’re hoping you’ll thank us with a five-star review on Amazon if you found this material helpful. The ebook also includes our job search guide.

For comprehensive advice on the entire job search process, read our complete guide to landing a job at a great company or visit our career advice hub.

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  • I believe this is a very common mistake made in today’s typical work place and my father can second that opinion. My father runs his own company and people consistently making the same mistakes happens far too often. I, personally and unfortunately, have been one of those people. My own father has fired me twice because I kept on making the same, preventable mistakes.

    I cannot stress this tip enough, always double check your work. It has gotten me involved in many complications at work and it will anyone else who commits the same mistakes I have. These are the type of mistakes that make you feel incredibly incompetent after because you knew the exact way to do it, you just didn’t and you’re facing the consequences because of it. It is not particularly enjoyable to be fired, especially by your own father. DOUBLE CHECK YOUR WORK AND LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES!

  • This reminds me of a past co-worker. I worked at a restaurant that had a salad table where all the food was kept cold. She worked the closing shift so it was her job to put the food on the salad table away at night and turn the everything off. She left the the food out on the table one night and all the food went bad. Our manager was really upset about it.

  • As a college student, my first job experience was in 7-eleven, one of the best leading retailer shops. When I was hired, I had no previous experience of working in any shop. As a result I was literally in “babysitting”. Most of the time I had to count the products and input the data in the database. Although I tried my best to be conscious about what I was doing, almost every time there were some mistakes in the database. My boss didn’t tell me anything but I could see the anger in her face. I was also feeling ashamed of myself.

    Some days later, she minimize my schedule from 5 days to 2 days in a week without even saying any reason. I realized why it happened. Also when I worked, I couldn’t input the data. Later I just quit working there when I understood it was not something for me. After reading this article, now I am realizing what was wrong with me. I should have done way more better if I proofread the data carefully after putting in the database without just quickly handling them.

    Now I know what I have to do for a better position and for that awesome look from the boss. It was really a life lesson for me.

  • This is HUGELY important! If you can do this then you become indispensable. The goal is to have your work reflect that which you hope to project and errors do not have a place in that line of thinking. Growth, proofreading, editing, thoughtfulness, efficiency and thoroughness will get you very far as these are traits that young professionals can lack in this day and age.

  • I find this lesson to be true in that you need to take initiative and be willing to work unsupervised. I would have to say that the best ideal job to really test your skills in a field would be to try to work out a satellite office. If you are able to accomplish your tasks and goals in these type of environment, with minimum supervision, you will find it much easier to get promoted and possibly already have the mindset to not need a babysitter and can be counted on to take projects that most people would normally be afraid to do.

  • I agree there are many things which can hamper your chances at getting promoted. The most important takeaway from this article may be avoiding casual and easy to correct errors. It’s true, we all make mistakes, but the mistakes that look the most unimpressive are the simple ones we fail to catch. It’s imperative that we are careful when submitting important documents, because often times the quality of the product reflects the quality of the work that was done on the product and this reflects our overall commitment to achieving the best possible outcome in the workplace.

  • I was working with my father and he bought a door that was too large. So he explain why we couldn’t cut the bottom to make it fit. I offered my solution to cut the door and make it the correct height. He left for an hour and I completed my task of cutting the door and correcting the problem he saw. But then he measured the width and we were still off. So it was back to store for a new door as we shook ours head all the way wondering how those measurements ended up being so bad. Since then I double check his measurements.

  • I, too, was very eager to please my boss. After being unemployed for 3 years, I began work with a non-profit organization. I absolutely loved the office setting and staff. The training was rigorous and fast. I was assured on every level, that I was ‘doing well.’ The competition was a draw back due to my age. I felt challenged by my younger colleagues, to perform better. In fact, it was the reverse. They were in competition with me because they felt that I was more experienced. This is why I love my non-profit organization. We are like family and we often critique each other. During the competitive stage, I often made mistakes for the sake of a speedy completion of tasks. Once the mistakes were sited, I was that much more embarrassed. Aside to say, my younger colleagues were just as careless and this prompted team conversations. Once one team member opened up about their competing concerns, we all followed suite. We began to assist and critique one another’s documents, for typos. We encouraged one another to become more confident. We are all star’s in our organization and our director is always happy to brag about us. We learned how to trust one another.

  • It’s true that there is many major mistakes that can be avoided by asking question when in doubt. When i first started working at the job I’ am at now I forgot to put dates on some products of when they were opened. Everyone at work kept using the products that hadn’t been opened. By the end of the month the product was moldy and had to be thrown away. That was money that the store lost. Ever since then I double check everything i do just to make sure that I didn’t forget to do anything.
    I agree with this article and it’s always important to have some else double check your work to make sure u did everything right.

  • I think that this is probably one of, if not the, most important tip on this list of 20. People tend to get used to a job and settle into auto-pilot mode. Then, they tend to make more mistakes. I think that if you can do something, and then go about doing it in a different way the next time that you have to, then you would be less likely to make mistakes since you won’t be doing it subconsciously. Granted, I don’t have much to go off of (I have worked at a gas station, Subway, and a nursing home), but there are some mistakes there that could be a big deal. For example, I pass medicines at the nursing home. Many people go through the medicine cart and pop out all of the pills for each person for whatever time of day it is and slip into auto-pilot mode since it is always the same thing. But here’s the catch: Some times, things change. People get new medicine or get different doses. When you do this subconsciously, you may not notice. This is why I like to go in a different order every time I pass medicine and mark them off as I go. Also, DOUBLE CHECK your work is a huge deal. It’s much less embarrassing if you catch your own mistake rather than having someone else point it out.