6 Work Opportunities That Can Surprisingly Hurt Your Career

A constant forward trajectory is an ideal path for your career. Unfortunately, career paths are rarely a straight line, often involving experiences that can end up being a step backward rather than forward. Even a salary increase or promotion, for example, could be considered a step back if it takes you away from your passions and talents.

Maintaining a forward path is easier if you’re able to recognize opportunities that, despite some advantages, are ultimately a step backward in your career. Here are six examples.


1. Receiving a Promotion That Detaches You From Your Passion and Skills

It’s hard turning down a promotion. Many of us need a steady income to cover the bills, so turning down a promotion seems counterintuitive to living life.

In an ideal situation, you’ll earn a promotion to a position that utilizes your skills and passions, though that’s not always the case. A promotion that shifts you to a department or task that doesn’t use your strengths can result in reduced work results down the line, transforming your position from secure to on the hot seat. Beyond that, an additional workload involving tasks you have no passion for can lead to increased workplace stress.


2. Accepting a Speaking Opportunity for an Unfamiliar Topic

Public speaking presents an excellent opportunity for establishing new connections and leads. Showing your expertise via public speaking helps to build your brand and enhance your integrity. However, being tasked to speak about a topic you have no interest or experience with can do the opposite, devaluing your brand and potentially showing you as unprepared and not passionate.

There’s nothing wrong with learning about a new topic to appear competent, though investing too much time and public attention on a subject beyond your specialty can detract from your actual goals and skills. If your brand exists in too many niches, others may be skeptical if you may spread yourself too thin.


3. Taking on a Workload That Presents No Time for Side Projects

A promotion typically involves a heavier workload, though a job that removes any time whatsoever from your downtime is unhealthy. Side projects from some entrepreneurs, conducted away from or in the office, tend to evolve into successes. You can anticipate a heavier workload, though if it’s derailing a lucrative side project of yours, the workload may be doing more long-term harm than good.


4. Working in an Industry That Doesn’t Align With Your Long-Term Goals

Receiving a better role at work is technically a step forward in that industry, though if you were previously considering switching industries due to passion and interest, it could be a step backward. Despite a higher salary and glowing new title, you may spend ample time deliberating what could have been if you followed your passions. Ask yourself about the potential of your current position, asking if being the CEO of your present company would satisfy you more than starting your endeavor with your passions and talents in mind. If not, the promotion may not be a positive thing, after all.

5. Staying in a Job That No Longer Presents Learning Opportunities

Despite a higher salary and new title, your time spent at work can feel pointless if you’re learning nothing at all. Every industry is continually evolving, so even the highly experienced and knowledgeable in a specific niche should be learning at work on a daily basis.

However, if your new promotion puts you in a position where you do the same thing day after day or are monitoring those who are similarly disinterested, the promotion can be a step back. You could be spending your time on a creative venture with greater potential instead.


6. Having an Increased Role With More Travel

If you love to travel and enjoy your job, then a promotion that involves ample travel can be a great thing. However, if traveling stresses you out, the new role may not be a good fit, even if you don’t mind the actual work. Traveling abroad has numerous psychological impacts involving fatigue and lack of focus for some. Having to travel, on top of a more significant workload, can present a recipe for disaster and inefficient work results.


Have you experienced a career opportunity that at first glance was great, though ended up being a step backward? Share in the comments below and subscribe for more advice to help you get ahead in your career.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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