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by Cathy Vandewater | January 08, 2013


Trying to take charge of your career? Look again—you may have missed a spot.

It's easy to be on guard at the office, but chances are you're messing up your work trajectory in your down time, or getting lazy about dressing in the morning, which is sending out all the wrong messages at work. Here are a few trouble spots to check in on.

1. Excessive and pointless tweeting and Facebook posting

All those updates don't make you look busy—they make you look lonely. Get away from your computer until you have something more interesting to post than "Dinner time! Love my wonderful family." Try eating dinner, then posting about something you've heard or seen, that you have interesting thoughts about. Bonus points if it's related to your industry (thought not your company, please).

2. Lazy weekends

No, we're not suggesting you work weekends. But you might want to reconsider your Netflix subscription. You know all those mental lists of things you'd like to try, like rock climbing or a cooking class? Maybe it's just the book that's been sitting on your night table for weeks, un-cracked. These are activities you should be using your weekends on: they enrich your life, recharge your batteries, and give you interesting stories for your next interview. But you won't ever quite get to them if you park in front of the TV indefinitely.

3. Sloppy dressing

When was the last time you took a look at your work wardrobe? Chances are the mud and slush have taken their toll on your dress pants or work shoes, and 2011's sweaters (which seemed perfectly serviceable in September) are getting a bit faded and pilled.

A couple of fresh new shirts, clean leather bag, or a cheerful new sweater can perk up your attitude getting dressed in the morning, and project an "I'm excited to be here!" message at work. And if you're looking for a new job, consider smartening up your daily wardrobe too: you never know who you're going to run into on a grocery run.

4. Staying home

Whether you tend to decline invitations or just don't ever make the plans yourself, you're missing opportunities when you don't socialize. When you make regular dates with friends, acquaintances, and old work contacts, you remind friends that 1. you're alive, 2. you're amazing, and 3. yup, you're still on the prowl for a new gig. And you can do this much more organically in person than on Facebook. Tell your buddies that friends of friends are welcome to drinks and you've just doubled your chances for hearing something big.

As Christina Wayne, former senior VP at AMC, wrote in Huffpo, "I took everyone I knew in New York, where I'd just moved, to dinner or drinks or tea. I explained that I was open to anything. Six months later, one of those dinner dates called about a possible job at AMC."

5. Not being choosy about who you spend your time with

You know how they say you should dress for the job you want?

Hang out with the people you want to be.

Even if they're in a different line of work, smart people are a good influence on you: they'll help you learn to think in new ways, they'll be excellent sounding boards for ideas, and you'll get more bang for your time buck just having a stimulating conversation over coffee with them.

That doesn't mean you have to cut your fun-but-lazy buds loose—just make sure you're working some good influences in there too.

--Cathy Vandewater,

Read More:
Life Skills: Ivanka Trump, Thich Nhat Hanh And Others On The Things Everyone Should Master By Age 40 (Huffpo)
Mean Mentors: Why Jerks are Good for Your Job Search
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