Why Do You Keep Getting Fired?

7 Reasons You Can't Keep a Job

Fired employee walking out of office with a box filled with supplies.
Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill / Blend Images / Getty Images

If you find yourself constantly losing jobs, as much as you'd like to think that all your ex-bosses were losers, or that you just have bad luck, there's probably more to it than that.

Most people get fired at least once during their careers, but when it repeatedly happens, it can be both personally and professionally beneficial to find out why. Honestly evaluate yourself, and consider what you could've done differently to keep your job. Recognizing your downfalls and work habits that may contribute to repeated job loss is the first step toward changing the pattern and improving your work experiences.

Poor Job Performance

You should take pride in your work, rather than rushing through items on your to-do list. If completing tasks as quickly as possible is more important than turning in superior work, you may have just found the root of your problem. It can be tempting to knock out a huge workload at the expense of quality, and it may even temporarily impress your boss. But that impression won't last. As they review your work, bosses will be able to determine the quality of your work, not just the quantity. If you're rushing through your workday, your job could be on the line.

Don't take short cuts on projects. Always double-check your work. If you don't strive for excellence, you can't expect your boss to value you as an employee. If your work is sloppy or you make a lot of mistakes, it is imperative to improve your work ethic. Otherwise, your boss will find someone else who's willing to do so.

Inability to Perform Basic Tasks

The technical skills that allow you to do your job may be exemplary, but if you don't know how to perform the basic tasks that keep workplaces humming along, trouble may be on the horizon. Bosses have the right to assume their workers can do simple things like answering the phone properly, making proper introductions, and composing professional emails.

If this is your issue, don't get discouraged. This is an easy one to fix. Everyone has to learn professionalism basics at some point; you might be behind the curve, but you can still catch up. Ask the human resources department or a manager to help you improve. If you want an immersive learning experience, sign up for an online or community college class that teaches workplace basics.

Failure to Meet Deadlines

If you can't complete work as quickly as your job requires, it will negatively impact your career. Missed deadlines can be both costly and embarrassing for your employer. Clients don't like to be kept waiting. Fortunately, improving your time management skills can help solve this problem. Learn how to prioritize your work and communicate with your supervisor as soon as you feel yourself starting to fall behind. Communicating proactively can show a good faith effort to hit your deadlines, and you may be able to get help from co-workers before it's too late.

Last, but certainly not least: Avoid procrastinating. Putting off work won't help anyone. You will have to do it eventually, and you might as well do it now.

Inability to Get Along With Coworkers

When employees don't get along with one another, the business suffers. Interpersonal problems are distracting, and if they're allowed to continue too long, productivity declines. That's why bosses will get rid of any employees constantly involved in drama. If you find yourself constantly arguing with co-workers, that could be you, even if you don't feel like you're the one starting issues. When your boss looks to weed out the root of the problem, "but they started it" won't cut it as a defense.

You don't have to love everyone in your workplace—you don't even have to like them—but you do have to work on establishing good working relationships with all of your colleagues. That may occasionally include swallowing your pride, ignoring rude behavior, or declining to participate in gossip.

Anger Management Problems

Similarly, anger management problems can cause your boss to see you as a liability, rather than as a valuable employee. Unchecked anger can (and unfortunately often does) escalate into physical violence. According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), nearly 2 million Americans report being victims of workplace violence every year. Many more cases go unreported, according to OSHA's Workplace Violence report.

If you can't control your anger, your boss could fear that you'll be responsible for the next instance of workplace violence. They have a responsibility to ensure their employees' safety, so if you've had multiple outbursts, you really can't blame them for firing you as a precaution. Fortunately, there are resources out there to help manage anger. If online tools don't do the trick, seek professional help from a therapist or anger management class.

Negative Attitude

Anger and interpersonal problems are two forms of negativity, but they aren't the only ones. Even if you get along with co-workers and haven't had an outburst, you can still spread negativity by simply being a downer. Negative attitudes can include constant complaining, sluggish behavior, and pessimistic outlooks.

Bosses don't like workplace negativity because it tends to be infectious. It spreads quickly from one employee to another and damages workplace morale. You may find some level of satisfaction in complaining about work with an employee, but it's a slippery slope that can establish bad habits of constant negative comments. Even if your grievances are legitimate, don't complain incessantly. Instead, find specific ways to improve conditions in your workplace, and don't bring anyone else into your issues unless you're proposing a solution that will make both of you happier. If you can't think of solutions, bring up complaints sparingly and appropriately, like by reaching out to the HR department.

Unwillingness to Take on Difficult Projects

You get some sympathy points on this one; taking on challenging tasks can be daunting. However, if you don't accept tough assignments, you miss an opportunity to prove your value to the organization. Repeatedly turning down projects will give your boss the impression that you're uninterested in your job, unwilling to learn new things, or just plain lazy.

There's a bit of a balancing act to this point. You obviously don't want to take on projects for which you're wildly unqualified. Instead, take on difficult tasks that show off your strengths while building upon them. Demonstrate how you meet challenges head-on and embrace opportunities to expand your skillset. When you do have to turn down an assignment, learn the right way to say no to your boss. For example, you may have to explain that your workload is already too full. Or, if the project requires skills you don't have, tell your boss that you're working to build those skills and you just aren't there quite yet.

If you find yourself constantly turning down opportunities, take that as a hint that you're in the wrong career—because your boss probably already has.

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