1. Going by scores
This is the most common and biggest mistake one can make.
"Many factors determine one's choice of career -- aptitude, personality, interests and skills -- apart from scoring high marks in one subject or the other.
"You may score good marks in a particular subject like Math. But can you visualise yourself crunching numbers for the next 20 to 30 years?" asks Parveen Shaikh, head psychologist with YoungBuzz, a career counselling and manpower development organisation that runs a state-of-the-art career development centre in Mumbai.
This, coupled with a laidback 'let the results come' attitude, can lead to wrong career moves, says Shaikh. "You cannot let your one-time marks decide your whole future."
2. Succumbing to parental/ peer pressure
Your best friend has decided to study engineering and you blindly follow suit without taking into account your interest or aptitude for such a technical stream.
Or your parents are doctors so you want to become one as well.
But that is no reason to choose your career.
"These days, I think it is more often the herd instinct or peer pressure that influences one's choice of career rather than parental interference," observes Manju Malkhani, head of HR, HDFC.
She adds, "Most parents are liberal and educated enough to let their children choose their own area of interests.
"If you want an MBA in Finance or Personnel, what are you doing at an engineering college [assuming your friends are doing engineering]?"
Also, a wrong career move based on peer pressure may lead to disastrous results. "You are often stuck in a groove and stagnate for want of better options or motivation to change for the better,"
3. Lack of focus or back-up plans
You must have clarity of vision or a fixed goal when it comes to pursuing career plans, feels G Vedamani, CEO, Retailers' Association of India.
Vedamani has worked as a management expert in retail operations in corporate houses like Bata India, Shoppers' Stop and Crossroads among others, and has also taught at Welingkar's, Mumbai, and the Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad.
He bemoans the lack of well-planned career objectives and a back-up plan among today's youth.
"Simply put, one can singlemindedly aspire to pursue medicine if one so wishes. But if you don't get an admission into a course of your choice, you should have alternate plans and not drift aimlessly into something or the other.
"Planning -- be it for the future or a viable back-up plan -- is the key factor in planning your career in today's job market," he says
4. Resistance to change/ non-flexibility
This is a given: Change is a constant factor in your career; you must be prepared for it.
Subhrojit Mullik is a consultant for business development at BEA Systems. An IIM-Calcutta alumni, he has moved from consumer marketing to the financial sector to the IT sector to consultancy over the last 17 years.
He believes change is a key factor for progress and adds, "Several factors determine one's decision to change -- the need for a bigger creative/ challenging field, monetary incentives or the sheer necessity to survive."
When you plan to take the plunge, you must have the answers to the following questions:
1. Will this lead to a greater professional/ personal growth?
2. Am I good at learning new skills and delivering fast?
If you can sniff out the right opportunities and incentives within the prevailing conditions, you need not look beyond your immediate sector of specialisation.
Change need not be only lateral or only vertical. It can combine both, and more!
5. You need not work before you specialise
Gaining some work experience before enrolling in a specialised course might not be extremely popular in India, what with the current scramble to enroll in management, computer and other institutes catering to specialised streams.
But this is very much a global phenomenon.
"If you want to study management -- any aspect of it -- why not work in a company for a few years, gain practical knowledge and then learn to apply them in a better way?" asks Hima Bindu, manager-admissions at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.
"Management study focuses greatly on practical case studies. Mere theorising does not really help you get there."
Similarly, if you want to join a designing or a hotel management course, it would help if you have worked as an apprentice or an assistant at a good hotel/ restaturant/ fashion store before deciding to pursue a full-time career course in the same.