How Your Phone Can Hurt Your Career

Our phones are by far one of the most useful tools in our hands.

Today’s smartphones are capable of anything from becoming an electronic concert ticket, proof of car insurance, a device to jump on a conference call or order a pizza. They keep us at work, even after we’ve left work. 

While being accessible at any time may be great for your career (in some industries), there is one aspect of our instant accessibility that could be hurting your career. 

The other day I was introduced to a co-worker (we’ll call them Cindy) by another (we’ll call them Silvia), and naturally, the three of us began chatting about work and other common interests. As I had just met Cindy, I naturally asked a lot of basic common interest questions. Part of networking is showing genuine interest in the other person.

You don’t walk up to a recruiter and ask them to give you a job. You don’t walk up to a random person and ask them to help you move (I barely ask friends to help!). So why would you be comfortable asking for favors down the line with a co-worker you showed absolutely no genuine interest in. And we all know those favors above and beyond normal job duties can help get things done.

So as Silvia and I are talking to Cindy, I notice Cindy is becoming increasingly more self-conscious about her story and nervously begins to look over. Why? Because most people don’t like to feel like an idiot or boring. And why would Cindy feel that way? Because during 90% of the conversation Silvia’s face was buried in her phone.

Sound familiar? If not, watch any public area with people having one on one conversations. I see it far too much for as much as we hear that people are having a hard time building their network.

If you were watching the live video the other day, I talked about a co-worker that his singlehandedly built his career on his networking skills. A good career. Want to know the kicker? He’s not even on social media. YES. You read correctly. In fact, he is one of the few people left that I don’t see gazing at their phone every few minutes.

Do you ever hop on your phone during an interview? No? Why not? Too Unprofessional?

Think of every new person you meet in your organization (especially in a similar department) as a potential interview.

While they may be your co-worker at one job, they may be a hiring manager down the road. If not a hiring manager, they may suggest that they know you and give the person with the hiring decision their opinion on you as a worker and contributor to the team. How does that look when all they have to say is that you are always on your phone?

There is always the exception of work-related issues and emergencies that may pop up. In no way am I asking you to send your boss to voicemail in order to network with the new intern, but at least be courteous enough to excuse yourself from the conversation.

And who knows, the person you are meeting may just have access to something that can benefit you down the road!