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How to Avoid Simple Career Mistakes  February 8 2011 07:15:00 AM

In an interview that my Be Your Own Best Publicist co-author and I did with personal branding expert Dan Schawbel for our blog, he said that he’d recently “received the worst PR pitch…ever seen. Instead of saying ‘Dan, would you be interested in interviewing the CEO of XYZ,’ they made it very impersonal and said ‘Hi [FIRST_NAME|Colleague].’ What this does is notify me that I’m on their list without permission, that they didn’t take the time to speak to me personally and that they are careless.”

Everyone makes mistakes, but when you’re trying to impress people in the workplace, you want to do your best to avoid those simple-to-sidestep errors.  Here are a few tips to dodge common mistakes that can derail your career goals:

1. Check your work (twice!): It’s common for people to make careless mistakes that can cost them a potential job. I once interviewed a young woman who impressed me in person and put a lot of effort into her writing/editing test, which she printed out in color and hand-delivered to my office. The problem was that she forgot to proofread her work, including the “press release” she wrote to go along with it, the headline of which read, “[Her name] Hired as Publicity Maganger of Heast Magazines.” She obviously hadn’t spell-checked because as far as I know, the words “maganger” (I assume she meant “manager”) and “Heast” (instead of Hearst, the company where I run PR) are not found in the dictionary. Lesson: Before you send an important letter, presentation or memo, ask someone else to proofread it. If you can’t get another person to review your work, set it aside for a while and then look at it with fresh eyes. You’ll be amazed at what you might see on the second round. Reading it aloud also helps you catch mistakes in grammar and style.

2. Be cognizant of your surroundings: You never know who is sitting next to you on the train, walking behind you out of a theater or in the bathroom stall in a restaurant’s restroom. I’ve heard stories about people who were talking on their cell phone about upcoming layoffs at their company and a blogger who covered their industry just happened to be sitting nearby and broke the news — before the employees found out. The world is smaller than you might think!

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