When my son was 8 years old, he told me he couldn't wait until he had a regular job. When I asked why, he said so he could stop and get coffee every morning. You don't see driving ambition like that very often.
So now a few years later, he's matured a bit, but he is still blithely unaware of just what goes into working for a living. According to Jeff Havens, author of the wildly funny book How to get fired, this is an attitude that is quite common among those young people just hitting the job market.
Havens, a stand-up comedian and former high school English teacher, gathered the ammo for his book from talking to corporate managers about the issues they see most frequently among the employment-challenged members of the Y Generation.
How to get fired takes a twist on the usual dry-as-dust career management how-tos, and offers itself up as the ultimate guide for ensuring "that you never have to suffer the burden of stable employment for very long."
The book is organized around four sections, what Havens calls "The Four Pillars of Poverty":1) Fake your resume — will teach you how to manufacture a resume impressive enough to land a job to get fired from. 2) Establish your incompetence — will help you learn how to project a complete lack of intelligence and ingenuity. 3) Destroy your work ethic — will help you develop the work ethic that has helped make
America one of the fattest countries in the world.
On the first pillar: Havens says that his research shows that a startling 44% of resumes submitted to corporations contain blatant lies. By blatant lies he's not talking about exaggerations of skills or the omission of things in your job history you're not so proud of. He's talking about completely made-up data.
In our phone conversation, he explained the reason for the blatant lying: this generation has grown up in a much larger "neighborhood" than the rest of us. Whereas most of us had our little group of five or six friends by which to judge ourselves, their neighborhood is the Internet. And the one-upmanship we all practiced as kids has been ramped up a thousand times for those whose "neighborhood" is infinite. What constitutes real in their world is a lot different from what it constitutes in ours.
Although Havens says his book is for those "new to the professional world, whether you're about to graduate from high school, trade school, college, or prison," it's really a great read for anyone. Not only will it offer the long-employed some good laughs, but you might inadvertently find that you're committing many of the top ten reasons people get fired, which are, according to Havens:
- Lying on your resume
- Unreliable work and behaviors
- Inability to do assigned job tasks
- Performing tasks slowly, with numerous errors
- High absenteeism
- Conducting personal business at work
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Dishonesty on the job
- Refusing to follow directions and orders
- Inability to get along
Jeff Havens also does message-based lectures for companies like General Electric, Ford Motor Company, USBank, University of Wisconsin, Purdue, and hundreds of other corporations and colleges in the United States and Canada. He is a regular guest on Fox Business News and has been featured in Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, AOL, and dozens of other regional and national media outlets.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.