10 Ways to Get Fired
Career Decisions That May Cost You the Corner Office

Being competent and hard-working may not be enough these days to save you from being fired. In this eye-opening article, guest author Isha Edwards explains several "mistakes" that can lead to the unemployment line.

Among Fortune 500 CEOs and entry-level employees, Donald Trump's "You're Fired" mantra has become more than a catchy phrase. Gone are the days when employees sought to remain with a company until retirement. Today's technically charged, fast-paced, global market fuels competition for competent employees who only maintain three- to five-year shelf lives.

Ideally, finding a good career that provides stability is preferred for most people. However, committing to a company for decades at a time comes with a price. Long work hours that outweigh pay and recognition are usually what cause people to deviate from the standards that got them hired.

Rather than list the obvious, outlined below are career decisions that lead to being fired.

  1. Limited academic background

  2. Acquisitions and Mergers

  3. Attitude

  4. Conflicts of interest

  5. Failure to comply

  6. Improper use of technology, company property/supplies

  7. Inconsistency

  8. Lack of Integrity

  9. Quality of work

  10. Value to Expense ratio

Are you a life-long learner?

Having an MBA or advanced degree is now preferred to an undergraduate degree. Employees who do not proactively continue their education or develop new skill sets are more inclined to atrophy on the job. Knowledge is not power unless you know what to do with it. If you fail to increase your knowledge base, you'll succeed at getting fired.

All for One

Although downsizing still occurs, acquisitions and mergers is the latest trend to result in layoffs and firings. Retail, financial services, and healthcare - pharmaceutical companies are the likely candidates. Out of all the reasons for being fired, an acquisition or merger is least humiliating because blame shifts from an employee's performance to an employer's preference.

Does your attitude stink?

It is not uncommon for an employer to fire an exceptionally talented employee to retain one who is mildly talented and has a positive attitude. Attitude determines more than altitude, it determines how far people are willing to defend and work with you in the face of opposition.

Mind your Business

Conflicts of interest that publicly disgrace a company, unnerve shareholders, diminish brand value or result in litigation are grounds for termination. If a night or second job, an explicit social life, or inappropriate relationships are a hindrance you become a risk that few companies are willing to take.

Who's the Boss?

Been insubordinate lately? Do you fail to follow-through or disregard procedures often? Working with an uncooperative employee is frustrating and time-consuming. Coupled with a bad attitude, being insubordinate will ensure pink slip distribution or an escorted walk out the front door.

Minor Technicalities

Facebook, MySpace, and Weblogs are not just creative ways to stay in touch, meet new friends, or provide helpful information. Along with Google, current and prospective employers use web portals to cross reference employees and prospects. Many companies also monitor desk and laptop usage of e-mails and web searches. Companies more apt to do frequent checks of website activity, include those with trade secrets to protect.If you lack discretion in your World Wide Web interactions and use of company property, it is likely that you will also lack discretion in other areas that could be a detriment to your company. Personal, illegal or X-rated web activity is grounds for termination as is for example, using office equipment/supplies at home.

Can I Lean on You?

Every employer wants and needs a reliable employee who does not have to be told what to do; is available, and likely to follow through. Taking time to correct often or double-check work is costly. So is having "the ball" dropped at a critical moment.

Swear to Tell the Truth

Are you a person of your word? Are you accountable to the commitments you make and miss? Do you safeguard confidential or sensitive information? Your integrity defines your reputation. Lack of integrity now carries a hefty fine and jail time - CEO's are not excluded.

What is Your Standard?

Like integrity, work quality is a reflection of you. Not only can you be fired for poor work quality, you can also find it hard to secure a job. In some cases, work quality correlates directly with academic background. When work quality lacks production is decreased. Employers would prefer to fire you than lose time and money.

High Net Worth

Value to expense ratio relates to how much value an employer realizes relative to the expenses incurred e.g. salary, benefits, bonuses, commission, etc. If your tenure is long and your value is low, you are likely to be among the first to go.

To avoid being fired, become familiar with company policies. If you believe an action is questionable, talk with your supervisor, an equal employment opportunity officer or human resource representative. If you feel your position will be jeopardized, make an anonymous query and/or follow the appropriate chain of command. Maintain a paper trial of accolades as well as reprimands. Documentation should support your position. If you are a model employee with a clean record and you still get fired, do not dismay.

For many, being fired is a good thing. Some examples? Twanda Joseph is a former Arthur Andersen employee. Joseph's career took a drastic turn when the firm was indicted for its involvement in the Enron accounting scandal. Today, Joseph is an author, speaker, trainer, talk show host, and president of WiseEffects. Despite putting in considerable time and hard work that yielded $155 million in revenue, Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus were both fired from their jobs at Handy Dan. Today, the founders of Home Depot rank on Forbes' list of billionaires.

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