NGO career mistakes


Your NGO career is one of the most important things in your life. It is what you learned for, trained for, and dedicated your time and energy to. So there are things that you need to avoid that would be a big mistake in your NGO career, or cause ‘career suicide’. Some of these are obvious and some not so obvious, either way, you should give these items a wide berth if you want to remain successful in your chosen field.

Being unhappy in your job

While it may not be an instant career mistake, being unhappy with your job can be a slow and steady decline. It will most certainly affect your mood and will inhibit your level of performance. Being unhappy in your job almost never enables you to be as productive as possible, and low mood can affect many areas of your life. It is not wise to quit a job and lose your salary, but if you are dissatisfied in your current position you should make plans to find another one quickly.

Not networking continually

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know is an old saying that still holds true. Networking and making connections is a good way to move up the career ladder. Having a solid network means that you can be at the front of the list when new opportunities arise. Not networking and building professional contacts can put you at a disadvantage. Contacts are important for career progression so attend functions and meetings where you can meet influential people.

Putting your career before everything else

Your career is important but it is not the be-all and end-all. While providing an income and being able to live well is great, it should not be at the expense of your loved ones, or yourself. Self -care and family life is important. These are the people that will support you in your career goals and work efforts, so make time for them. A broken family or divorce proceedings will not make you a top performer at work. Nor will neglecting your own needs by not taking time out to relax and decompress. Don’t be guilty of putting your career before everything and everyone else.

Getting stuck in a career rut

As people, we are naturally resistant to change. However, don’t make the career mistake of believing that you can never change your job. The career you have maybe the one you chose, but there could come a time where it doesn’t work for you anymore. In this event, there is nothing wrong with making a change. Don’t be afraid to retrain, upskill, or change tack. Getting stuck in a rut is miserable. It can be beneficial to honestly assess your position, and alter it if necessary.

Being unprofessional or inappropriate

This can be anything from the way you dress, to how you conduct yourself in the workplace. Being unprofessional can be one of the biggest career mistakes you can make. It will reflect on you and your work and will influence people’s opinion of you. Inappropriate behaviour can result in disciplinary procedures. It can restrict potential opportunities and prevent you from advancement within the company, or possibly even result in termination.

Not knowing your own worth

Asking for a raise is a conversation that most employees dread. However, if you bring results and know your own worth, asking for more money shouldn’t be daunting. Many an employee has been underpaid simply because they are scared to ask for more. Don’t make the career mistake of undervaluing yourself. It will affect your confidence and self-worth leading to dissatisfaction in your job. Make sure you assess your value honestly and ask for more.

Burning bridges when leaving a job

Your colleagues and superiors may not remember the job that you did, but they will remember how you left. While it may be tempting to give your boss a piece of your mind, this is a definite career mistake. Not only is it unprofessional, but the word also gets around in business and people continually move positions. Imagine if your new boss was a colleague at your old company? You don’t want that last memory of you to be the one where you stormed out in a blaze of anger. 


Avoiding these career mistakes will help you to maintain professionalism and keep you from engaging in behaviours that could cost you not only your reputation but your livelihood. Being successful in your career is dependent on who you are, how you conduct yourself, and how well you perform your job.



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