IT Employment optimize

How to get fired: A friendly guide

Stand-up comedian and corporate entertainer Jeff Havens offers Generation Y some satirical advice on how to lose a job.

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.

4) Alienate your coworkers -- covers the various ways you can make your coworkers constantly compare you to Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and other of the world's most famous team players.

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:

  1. Lying on your resume
  2. Unreliable work and behaviors
  3. Inability to do assigned job tasks
  4. Performing tasks slowly, with numerous errors
  5. High absenteeism
  6. Conducting personal business at work
  7. Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  8. Dishonesty on the job
  9. Refusing to follow directions and orders
  10. 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.

About

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.

15 comments
Gochoa3664
Gochoa3664

Actually, all the points you listed is exactly what one coworker I have worked with did (and still does according to some of my friends that still work there)...the company wont get rid of them or call them on anything..Unbelievable. But if I or one of my friends did any of those things, you can believe they would be gone in a N.Y. second!

JamesRL
JamesRL

At a previous employer, we had an term for employees who underperformed but overdemanded called the "Gap of Death". If you have been coached on improving performance, but don't accept it, and ask for above average raises, special favours, etc., you are exhibiting a disconnect from reality. Its a perception gap. And it can lead to being fired.

bfpower
bfpower

Seems to me these are people issues. I've supervised Boomers and Xers with the same problems.

dbilling
dbilling

I'm seeing a whole lot more of this behaviour out of the younger workers then I saw in my peers and those older then me. There seems to be an expectation that if they try their best, they should be rewarded, even if they fall short of what the job requires. I've seen this behaviour in others too, but not to the extent that I'm seeing it in this specific generation.

AlexD2000
AlexD2000

I guess stress at work, Having a bad boss, being given 10 jobs to do at the same time and then being asked why you have not finished the first task when you have been told to do something else,Not being paid an overtime rate just the same wage,doing a totally different job for the advertised vacancy,having no health and safety policy at work,the boss's kids running around the office and warehouse in working hours,10 days holiday a year,i guess these dont even play a part in why you would want to be fired.

edu1
edu1

I love it so educating

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

big deal whoopee do. I'll give the guy some credit when he gets the pointy heads to laugh at themselves. This is merely not telling racist jokes at an NOI meeting.

charliein
charliein

The late comedian George Carlin had a list of ways to 'ensure' you'll get the job you want (edited for content): - Tell the hiring manager you cannot start for 6 months but that you *must* be paid immediately. - Ask what their policy is regarding Monday & Friday absenteeism - Ask for a desk near the door so you can get right out at 5:00PM - and if you think the interview is going bad, point to picture on the manager's desk and ask 'Hey, who is the hottie?'

four49
four49

If you work for a political, CYA, tell-the-boss-what-he-wants-to-hear company just be honest with everyone. Tell everything like it is. You'll be gone in no time.

rbogar
rbogar

If you see grossly unethical actions, like a salesman lying about the size of his orders to keep his job, just report that to the CFO without considering that the higher-ups are depending on the same false accounting to keep theirs.

tbmay
tbmay

I was sorta thinking along those very same lines. Some things left off: Be TOO good at what you do. It will make some key person, maybe your boss, feel threatened. Come in early. See reasons above. Stay late. See reasons above. Be the most productive member. See reason above. Now, obviously, this doesn't apply everywhere; however, it's amazing how much it does apply. The fact is our parents lied to us about what one needs to do to be successful. But who can blame them. Do you want to tell your kids, "Learn how to kiss up and you'll do well." I certainly WISH it were as simple as this article makes it.

tbmay
tbmay

...superiors were more than happy to accept all that exceptional performance to make them look good, and when he slowed down, as is an inevitable effect of age, or of being taken for granted, or of taking the load of 5 slackers, the current superiors had no more use for him? MAYBE he wouldn't mind some reward for all that exceptional performance. He didn't just "become" disillusioned. Why was he a ball of fire to begin with. (I'm assuming we're talking about someone who burned out over years...not weeks.) Maybe you'll say is matters not. He is, and if it doesn't affect his ability to perform, it certainly affects his ability to kiss up. You're in management. Are you saying you want to avoid exceptional performers because they will eventually burn out? I remember the discussion about how to handle a "difficult genius." I wondered if that was more of a problem for the shareholders or the individual manager(s). Is the "difficult genius" a real company problem or only a problem for someone's ego? The minute it becomes more expedient for an INDIVIDUAL to be rid of you than to not be rid of you, if they get the opportunity, you're not going to be able to let the door hit you in the butt fast enough. (Now this doesn't apply to everyone. It does apply to enough to make it a general rule though.) It doesn't matter how good you are. In fact, your merits could easily be your downfall. That goes all the way back to the days of the Bible. (David and Uriah come to mind.) I would say the key to sanity is hitting that point where you realize you work to make money, because you have to have money to live, and that's the bottom line. Tomorrow is not promised. That goes doubly true for I.T. God and family matters to me. I only work to be paid. Not to make friends with co-workers. Not to wrap myself in a false fantasy of gaining some short lived power. Now I'm self-employed but that only began 2 and half years ago. I have a quarter of a century of working for others so I've seen all the office politics. And, contrary to what you might think, you still have to deal with it as an independent. I digress though. Sometimes employers (or bosses) like you enough to overlook darn near anything you might do. Sometimes they will fabricate things because they don't like you, for any number of non-reasons. And you could run in to any point between the extremes. Managers are people and they aren't perfect. Nobody needs to expect them to be. Just hope and aim for working for a sane one. (And that's not as easy as it might sound.)

JamesRL
JamesRL

What I've seen is someone who has exceptional performance over years gradually become disillusioned and stop performing their best, and start aiming for an average performance. Thats usually a bad sign, it speaks to lack of motivation. Or it could be a work life balance. Either case its often a red flag.

sagorman1294
sagorman1294

Worked for me, got canned from Siemens this way.