7 behaviors of people who never seem to advance in their career

Lucas Graham by Lucas Graham | May 13, 2024, 1:52 pm

Are you “stuck” in a career rut?

Somehow, you’re always treading water at work, seemingly unable to make that leap to the next level in your career.

But have you ever stopped to consider why this might be the case?

It’s not necessarily that you’re not talented or hardworking.

Often, it comes down to certain behaviors, some of which you might not be aware of.

But don’t worry, we’ll help you figure that out.

In this article, we’ll delve into the actions and attitudes of those who seem perpetually stagnant in their professional lives.

What exactly are they doing (or not doing) that hinders their career progression?

What habits have they formed that are acting as unseen barriers?

By recognizing these behaviors, you can avoid falling into the same trap and keep your career moving forward.

So if you’re ready for some serious self-reflection (or even if you’re simply curious about what might be holding others back), read on.

Let’s dive in and see what we can uncover together!

1) Fear of taking risks

Here’s the deal:

Progress, in any aspect of life, often involves taking some sort of risk. The same goes for your career.

Those who seem stuck in their career often share a common trait: they shy away from taking risks.

Maybe it’s the fear of failure, or perhaps it’s a lack of confidence in their abilities.

But here’s what they don’t realize: avoiding risk altogether often leads to missed opportunities.

Opportunities that could have potentially led to promotions, new skills, or even a better job.

So, if you find yourself hesitant to take risks, remember this: every successful person has taken a few leaps of faith along their journey.

Don’t let fear hold you back from reaching your full potential.

2) Resistance to learning

Years ago, I found myself feeling stagnant at my job. I was doing the same tasks day in and day out, and it felt like I was getting nowhere.

Then, my boss offered me a chance to learn a new skill—something totally out of my comfort zone.

Honestly, I was terrified. I thought, “What if I’m not good at it? What if I fail?”

But then I realized: this was an opportunity for growth. So, I decided to embrace it. I spent nights and weekends studying, practicing, and learning.

And you know what? It paid off.

Not only did I become proficient in that new skill, but it opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me within the company.

It showed my superiors that I was adaptable and eager to learn—traits that are highly valued in any profession.

Let this teach you that resisting learning new things can seriously hamper your career progression, so you should embrace opportunities to learn.

You never know where they might lead you.

3) Neglecting networking

I used to think networking was for people who were “climbers”—those who were always looking for the next big thing.

I was content with where I was, so why should I bother?

But here’s a lesson I learned the hard way: networking is not just about climbing the corporate ladder.

It’s about building relationships, learning from others, and finding opportunities you might not have even known existed.

I realized this when, a few years back, I attended a conference with a friend on a whim. I didn’t think much of it at the time.

But at that event, I met someone who would later offer me a job opportunity that turned out to be a game-changer for my career.

That single interaction taught me the importance of networking and opened my eyes to its potential.

So, if you’re someone who avoids networking events or keeps to your immediate circle at work, you might be stunting your career growth.

Networking isn’t just schmoozing and small talk.

It’s about making meaningful connections that can open doors for you in your career.

4) Lack of self-promotion

Many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of self-promotion. It can feel like bragging or being overly assertive.

But if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?

In the professional world, it’s important to highlight your achievements and skills.

This doesn’t mean you have to boast or exaggerate. It’s about presenting your accomplishments in a way that demonstrates your value.

Remember, if you’re not making your contributions known, you may end up overlooked when it comes time for promotions or new opportunities.

So, don’t shy away from self-promotion.

Embrace it as part of your professional growth.

Keep it genuine and related to your work, and you’ll find that it can significantly impact your career advancement.

5) Ignoring feedback

Feedback, whether positive or negative, is a crucial part of professional development. It’s how we learn, grow and improve.

Yet, some studies suggest that as many as 74% of millennials feel “in the dark” about their performance.

This can be due to a lack of open communication channels, or simply because individuals are not seeking it out.

Those who don’t actively seek feedback or ignore it when given, are likely stunting their career growth.

Feedback is a tool for improvement.

It provides insight into our strengths and highlights areas where we can develop.

So, if you’re not currently seeking or accepting feedback, start now.

It might feel uncomfortable initially, but the benefits to your career could be substantial.

6) Not setting clear career goals

I remember a time when I was drifting through my career.

I was working hard, but without a clear direction or purpose.

It was like trying to navigate through a fog.

Then, someone asked me a simple question: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

I didn’t have an answer.

That’s when I realized the importance of setting clear career goals.

Without them, you can end up aimlessly moving from one job to another, never quite advancing or feeling fulfilled.

Setting career goals gives you a roadmap. It helps you identify the steps you need to take to move forward in your career.

Moreover, it gives you something to strive for, keeping you motivated and focused.

So take some time to reflect on your career goals. It could make all the difference in how far you go in your professional journey.

7) Failing to adapt to change

In today’s rapidly evolving professional landscape, adaptability is not just an edge—it’s a necessity.

The ability to adapt to new technologies, methodologies, or changes within your industry can be a major factor in your career progression.

Those who resist change or struggle to adapt can find themselves falling behind, stuck in old ways of thinking or working.

So, embrace change.

Don’t see it as a threat, but as an opportunity for growth and learning.

It’s the key to staying relevant and competitive in your field and, ultimately, advancing in your career.

Final thoughts

If you’ve recognized some of these behaviors in your own professional life, know that you’re not alone.

Many of us fall into these patterns without even realizing it.

But here’s the important part: recognizing these behaviors is the first step towards change.

Start by reflecting on your own career journey. Are there situations where you’ve avoided risks or resisted change?

Have you been neglecting networking opportunities or shying away from self-promotion?

Asking these questions can be uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary part of growth.

Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. It requires consistent effort and perseverance.

But with each small step, you’ll move closer to breaking free from these hindering behaviors and advancing in your career.