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Career Coach: DUMB Stuff People Do

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson has some great advice that's no April Fool's joke.

Pamela Kleibrink


April Fool's Day is a good time to think about the dumb things people do to sabotage their career and their life.

Depending on someone else to find work. Even if you have an agent or representative helping you or your company find jobs, you need to get out there and network and promote yourself and your company. You are the one who is most interested in finding work. The agent or representative probably has other clients he or she is also trying to find work for. Don't depend on a recruiter to help you. Recruiters are often so busy that they may fail to follow through with clients for you. And they are submitting as many people as possible to their clients hoping to get someone hired so they aren't working for you -- they are working for the company. Your best bet for finding work is you. Finding work is work. Work at it every day, even when you already have a job, by building your resume, your reputation and your network.

Using drugs or alcohol. Years ago I worked at an animation company where the boss made insane demands. It was a very stressful work situation -- he even banged on the bathroom door while I was taking a quick break because he wanted me to do something right away. One night I went home from work and poured myself a drink from the only alcohol I had in the house -- a bottle of Kahlua I had received as a gift. And then I poured myself another. Then I stopped and realized what I was doing. Drinking alone. Not a good thing. Also drinking because of a job situation -- another bad thing. I needed to make some changes and eventually I did. Luckily for me, the crazy boss decided to fire me and I moved on to better working conditions. (No other bosses ever pounded on the bathroom door.)

Misrepresenting yourself by claiming work that isn't yours or putting work in your portfolio that you didn't do. My friend Bob Kurtz got a call from another employer in the animation business who told him he had seen some work in a candidate's portfolio that looked remarkably like Bob's. The employer wondered if this job applicant had ever worked for Bob and if Bob would like to take a look at the guy's work. When Bob saw the portfolio of the applicant he confirmed that it was his work in the guy's book. Needless to say, the applicant did not get the job, nor did he get rehired at Bob's company.

Badmouthing colleagues. Don't complain or talk badly about other coworkers or employers. Never speak ill of anyone in public. During one of my interviews at Disney Television, my interviewer prodded me for dirt on my most recent employer, a person who was notorious for mistreating her employees. I refused to take the bait, simply replying that working for that producer was a bit challenging at times. Never post anything on the internet you don't want the whole world to see. If you can't say anything positive, don't say anything at all. Complaints and gossip tell more about the source than the subject.

There are a myriad of dumb things that people do. These are just a few I have encountered that prove harmful to one's career and life.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, career coach, speaker and writer. She admits to losing a post-production job early in her career because she showed up late to work one time too many. This was before cell phones and before she became better at time management. Don't do dumb things like she did. She also admits to not realizing how important networking is and now travels to schools and conferences all over the world to teach people about networking and other career strategies. To arrange a speaking engagement, personal career coaching session or for recruiting, contact her at You can read her "Career Coach column at Her Linkin profile is at