9 Ways to Ruin Your Engineering Career

Your engineering career and professional reputation can take year’s even decades to build. It can be tarnished very easily and difficult to salvage. Below are my best tips to keep you career a fruitful one.

Back Out of a New Job

Once you make the decision to accept a position, stick with it. Keep your word. If you burn that bridge, your employer will chat about you among their industry. Be sure to conduct yourself with the greatest professionalism.

Quit without a notice

When you leave a job without two weeks’ notice, you’re burning the bridge. Always give your employer a heads up. By leaving smoothly, on good terms, you increase your likelihood of a positive reference. What goes around, come around.

Problems Without Solutions

You’re an engineer. Your job is to solve problems. Often those problems are not calculate this or design that; they are how much does this cost and how soon can we get that. If you are an engineer that consistently complains and you dedicate your time to being the “devil’s advocate” your co-workers and even your boss are going to get frustrated. Everyone has different problems to solve. You need to put effort toward solving yours.

Ignoring Emails, Calls, or Meetings

Things happen. We all get busy, but if you are someone who doesn’t respond to emails, ignores calls, or skips meetings when people are counting on you, they will stop counting on you. Be reliable, not a nuisance.

Resisting Change

Never say never and keep an open mind. How long will a business last that doesn’t change? How long will you last if you don’t change? “We have always done it this way” mentality will only get you so far. You must embrace new ideas and perspectives to keep from descending into nothingness.

Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

If you can’t walk the walk, don’t talk the talk. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Manage your time well and turn in your work on or ahead of time. If you feel overwhelmed or may not be able to complete a task on schedule, speak up. Keep communications open and make sure you and your manager are on the same page.

Making Excuses

Don’t play the victim. It gets old fast. It is not anyone else’s fault you missed the mark. Be a problem solver, not the problem. Learn from your mistakes, and take responsibility for your failures.


Honesty is a fundamental characteristic that always has value. When you make a mistake own up to it. Caught in a lie is much worse than admitting you are wrong. Your boss would much rather hear you own up to a mistake than try to cover it up. The cover up always makes a problem worse.

Sending an Angry Email

You are upset and you want to send an angry email to tell off a co-worker who wronged you. You want to let everyone know what happened. In reality, you’re coming off as immature and reckless. No one wants to work with those people. Cool off before you hit the send button.

Also, read: 10 Qualities That Get Young Engineers Hired

If necessary, write out some of the angry thoughts to yourself and revisit them after some time. If you still think they are valid, figure out your next steps from there. Ideally, you will reread them and find a better way to handle the situation.

13 Comments on “9 Ways to Ruin Your Engineering Career

  1. This do apply to all individuals. It’s good to embrace these type of ways for a better career.


  2. To be honest,this is the nicest piece I have read in years…this points you embedded in your write up can destroy one”s reputation.. I have always known that its important to give your employer a heads up before leaving the company if you don’t want to leave under a cloud


  3. These bad traits needs to be avoided. It’s hard to find a stable job these days so we need to work on it.


  4. this list is very true and the worse is resisting change when we are in a dynamic world. it will be a sure way out of any job not just engineering.


  5. People should realize that having a job is a blessing and it’s not everyone in this world has. Such bad traits should be avoided so that one’s career would not be set back by having such a bad reputation that no one will ever hire them if they go looking for another new job. This just not holds true for engineers, but for professionals of every field, everywhere.


  6. I believe the above applies to any professional in any field. However, thanks for the tip.


  7. Resisting the change is very common. I used to be like that until that I understood that I had to progress and my boss wanted better results from so I changed and became more efficient and flexible.


  8. Great advice for engineering and every field. Constantly being conscious of others and respecting the workplace shows true dedication to the task at hand. I think a big part is taking time to think before making rash decisions that could cost the company or business relations. Thanks for sharing.


  9. Ruining one’s career is the easiest thing to do because building is very difficult. Lying shouldn’t even come in, in a line of duty.


  10. The first job I had I did the mistake of quit without a prior two weeks notice, because I was so fed up. As of then I didn’t know the repercussions. Though later the employer called for me write a resignation letter, but I couldn’t ask for a recommendation letter.


  11. It would be very difficult to get an job and maintain it if you lack open mindset. You have to be willing to accept change and flow with it. Always finding new ways to do things.


  12. I love that saying, if you can’t walk the walk, don’t talk the talk. Many a times i think we over promise because we over believe in our capabilities, but that’s not an excuse.


  13. I am no engineer but the sending of angry email got me. I guess this is why they say think before you click. It applies in all aspects of life.


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