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Don't Get Fired

Afraid of getting fired? Unless your employer is in dire straights and on the brink of wide lay-offs, following these dos and don’ts should protect you from performance-based firings.


Afraid of getting fired? Unless your employer is in dire straights and on the brink of widespread downsizing, following these dos and don’ts should protect you from getting canned.

Do Get to Work on Time – Think punctuality doesn’t matter? Hardly. Get to work late, take long lunches, or cut out early; and your boss will be practicing his Donald Trump “you’re fired” routine. Ignoring established hours shows disregard for your job and appears irresponsible.

Do Know Your Manager’s Expectations – If you don’t know what, exactly, you are supposed to do from nine to five each day, ask your boss. Get together at least once a month to discuss projects and goals to ensure you aren’t naively ignoring aspects of your job description.

Do Overachieve – Even if you’re not going to make employee of the year doesn’t mean you should be downsized. Not being an overachiever isn’t excuse for only doing the minimum. Show initiative at least once in a while, and be as productive as possible. Exceed deadlines when possible. Use the oldest motto in the book of peak performance: Underpromise and overdeliver.

Don’t Steal – Whether it’s pens from the WB Mason delivery or padding an expense report, it is called stealing, and it will get you canned.

Don’t Use Work Technology for Questionable Reasons - More companies are monitoring employee email and even Internet use both while at work and, if you have a laptop, after hours. Limit time spent on personal e-mail sites and instant messenger and never surf for anything x-rated or illegal.

Don’t Complain All the Time – Everybody thinks they should be paid more and their boss is a jerk, but say goodbye if the wrong person hears you say it. Keep office small talk about other topics and save the belly-aching for home.

Do Help Your Coworkers – Whether you like them or not, working as a team with your peers isn’t just the right thing to do, it will protect your job. Companies want employees that work well with others, and will be quick to let go anybody who is antisocial, egotistical, or difficult. Plus, teamwork means coworkers will be more inclined to stick up for you if they catch a whiff of a coming downsizing.

Don’t Get Overly Personal – Sure, you may need to make a personal appointment at work from time to time. But never hold lengthy personal conversations where others can hear. And, keep in mind not all extra-curricular activities are work-appropriate. If your boss asks you what you did last weekend, leave out the Jager shots, one-eyed stripper, and the whole part with the cops. Too many juicy Monday morning stories and you will be hitting up the unemployment line, and the job boards.

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We Got Fired! …And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Us documents the positive long-term effects of losing a job had on a handful of hyper-successful people.

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.