Professional Development

Top 15 Mistakes That Will Get You Fired From Your Job

Written by Peter Jones

It’s hard enough to get a job—let alone your dream job. Alas, it can be very easy to lose that job. Here are 15 mistakes that will get you fired from your job. Get your dream job—and keep it.

1. Ignoring Zero Tolerance Rules

Whatever the specifics, every company usually has a couple of rules that shall not be broken—and if you break them, you’re out. No second chances. Whether it’s dating subordinates, dating coworkers at all, lateness, or something else entirely, you should find this out within your first week and be very mindful never to break it. Don’t ever assume the unbendable rules will make an exception for you!

2. Substance Abuse

If you’re working for a company that drug tests, you should take this seriously. It’s not enough to bring in clean pee for the interview process. They will test you again. Stop using whatever it is you’re using and focus on your career. You will get caught otherwise. And fired.

3. Too Much Booze

If you can’t drink it responsibly, don’t drink. Being sloppy or not holding your liquor at a work event once is bad enough. Doing this multiple times is absolutely cause for firing—and good luck getting a reference. And don’t ever come to work or try to do your work intoxicated.

4. Dating Co-Workers

First step is, see #1, to check the zero tolerance policies for any mention of inter-office dating. Second is to try and talk yourself out of it. Third is never to actively pursue a relationship with someone you work with. There are so many ways your overtures could be read as harassment…and get you fired.

There are plenty of fish in the sea. Go find one that doesn’t work at your company.

5. Too Many Jokes

Jokes are great ice breakers. They’re funny. They score you points at parties. But they don’t belong at work. Most of the good ones have an off-color or racy element—which has no place on the job. So many others can have bigoted overtones and could deeply offend people you respect (and get you fired).

And don’t make comments you think are funny that might be misconstrued as sexual harassment either; even if the person you said it to understands the context and isn’t offended, someone else might overhear and turn you in.

6. Abusing Expense Accounts

Padding your expense account is basically stealing from your company. The more blatant the theft, the more likely you’ll get caught.

If you really need to make more, earn it. Ask for a raise. Don’t throw in a bunch of bogus expenses hoping for a payout and that no one will notice. Someone always will. And you’ll get fired.

7. Raging Out

We all have bad days or weeks at work and get angry. Do not vent this in any public forums—least of all social media. If you leave work steaming from the ears, turn off your Facebook and your Twitter. Call your significant other or your mom—or tell your roommate you need to go to happy hour and rant a while. Just don’t say anything publicly, or somewhere it could be overheard. The last thing you want is for your negative comments to get back to your boss.

8. Office Hanky Panky

You shouldn’t have to be told that it is pretty much a hard and fast rule that you should never get busy at the office—or anywhere on company grounds. But people do. And they get caught, and fired. Don’t let this happen to you. Get a room.

9. Pulling Pranks

These are hilarious, some even bordering on legendary. But most are far too risky or silly for a workplace. Watch in awe as others pull off epic pranks (some will lose their jobs); don’t try anything yourself.

10. Not Understanding You’re Replaceable

As in, never assume that you are. It’s a tough market and no matter how great you are, there’s probably another you out there, standing outside the hiring manager’s office with a hopeful resume. Act as though you could be replaced any day and avoid doing the things that will give your boss cause to have to replace you.

11. Lying

You should adopt a zero tolerance policy about lying. Just don’t do it. And in particular don’t do it to get time off. Don’t develop wacky illnesses or kill off fake elderly relatives. You’ll probably get caught—and fired.

12. Ignoring Your Manager

Always stay in tune with your boss’s concept of your job performance—not your own. Always check in to take his or her temperature to make sure they think you’re pulling your weight. If you have room to improve, do.

13. Abuse

It should go without saying, but: don’t be abusive. And don’t sit idly by and watch others be abused. There’s no place for this in everyday life or in the workplace.

14. Speaking for Your Company

Unless specifically told to be a mouthpiece or to spread some news, keep your mouth shut in public about your company. The minute you get on social media and purport to speak for your company—particularly about something potentially controversial—is the minute you’re in shaky territory. People like you get fired all the time for inappropriate posts or for spreading misinformation.

15. Not Trusting Your Gut

If you have a flash of insight that says: “maybe I shouldn’t do this,” then you should honor it. Every time. When something is borderline, and not so blatantly obvious as a no-no, check in with yourself. If you have even the slightest hesitation, chances are it’s not a good idea. Play it safe and keep your job.

About the author

Peter Jones