Mistakes are Often the Best Teacher

Everyone has made a mistake or two when it comes to navigating the career landscape: landing the job, interviewing, negotiating salary, or even deciding whether to take an opportunity or decline an offer. Experience is often the best teacher when it comes to the painful lessons of making career decisions. There are some really valuable lessons you can learn from making mistakes during any phase of the interviewing process, just by making them. More times than not, the consequences from those mistakes create an experience that will guide you to the right decision next time.

There are several different types of mistakes and various lessons to be learned from them. First, the careless mistakes are the ones that you often beat yourself up over, like typos or misspellings in your resume. Second, the mistake of being unprepared is usually a result of being unorganized, undisciplined, or underestimating the various questions or situations that could arise in an interview or in making a big decision. Lastly, the most frustrating mistakes are those you hold onto and feel like you knew were mistakes before you took action!

Here are a few examples and tips for navigating through mistakes on life’s career journey:

1. CARELESS MISTAKES are the ones that everyone makes because of doing things in a hurry. Nip it in the bud! Have a friend copy edit your resume before turning it in. When I was right out of college at my first job and searching for new opportunities, I accidentally sent my acceptance letter to my current employer due to the auto fill functionality available with email. The two contacts happened to have the same first name. Needless to say, my heart sank into my stomach and it was not the most professional way to submit my resignation.

2. UNPREPAREDNESS is the mistake that everyone always beats themselves up over because there is always more preparation to be done before any major decision. Being unorganized, undisciplined to do all of your research before making a sound decision, or even underestimating the consequences of the decision, can all hinder you making the best decision. As a recruiter, the hardest mistake to witness is when candidates do not do their research on the organization. They don’t come with questions and forget that they have a right to interview the employer also. This is a two-way interview.

3. FEELING STUCK is probably the most detrimental mistake you can make. No decision is permanent but this feeling can really do a number on you psychologically, if you don’t let it go and make the best of where you are. Recruiters see it all the time with candidates who should of, would of, and could of done things differently or didn’t recover from a bad job, poor decision, or bad experience. Career or vocational decisions shape your life so it is important to embrace the decisions you make or don’t make. When you don’t get the dream job, what will you choose to do with what you do have? When you take the new position and it is not what you thought, what will you do with the decision you made? You can’t recover if you’re still mourning what should have happened.

No matter what types of mistakes you’ve made or will make in your vocational journey, know that they can be the best teacher – if you choose to harness them to shape the future projection of your career path.

Kristina Burroughs is a recruiter at the Center for Shared Services. This blog was originally posted on the CSS Blog.

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