Guest post by Michael Klazema of Backgroundchecks.com.
You were recently let go by your employer and are currently in the process of searching for a new job. If you were fired, your boss likely informed you of the reasons why. However, the bigger question now is what you can do to avoid those fire-able offenses or behaviors in the future.
However, the bigger question now is what you can do to avoid those fire-able offenses or behaviors in the future.
The bad news is that future employees are going to look at your job experience, check your references, and ask you why you left or were let go from your previous job. A termination doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in prospective employers. The good news is that you can turn over a new leaf and use your dismissal to become a better employee.
Here are eight of the most common reasons for dismissal along with what you can do to avoid similar pitfalls in the future.
- The offense: Lying on your resume or job application
Sometimes, applicants lie on their applications to prop up their qualifications and boost their hiring chances. By listing jobs you never worked, schools you never attended, or skills you don’t possess, you might think that you are adding points of interest to your resume that will get you hired. The problem with lying on a resume or application is that it follows you. Eventually, your employer will find out about your fib, and when they do, you’ll be lucky to keep your job.
The fix: Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on your resume and application. It might not be as sexy as you want it to be, but it is honest. Employers always value honesty and integrity.
- The offense: Failing to be forthright about criminal history
Because of how ex-offenders are often treated by employers, applicants with criminal histories may have valid reasons to be afraid of disclosing information about their checkered pasts. As a result, some candidates will choose not to disclose—even if the job application includes a question about criminal history.
The fix: Again, be honest. If you’re asked to disclose, do so and try to explain the conviction as fully as you can. Employers run criminal background checks, so they will likely find out about your past offenses anyway. By disclosing, you get a chance to tell your side of the story first.
- The offense: Complaining about your boss or colleagues on social media
Perhaps you got called out in a meeting by a manager for a task you didn’t even know you were supposed to do, or maybe you are frustrated about a co-worker who isn’t pulling his or her weight. In such situations, it will be tempting to get online and start bashing your bosses or colleagues on Facebook or Twitter. Few things are as cathartic as airing your grievances.
The fix: Stay away from social media when you are upset about work. Rant to your friends, your significant other, your spouse, or your parents if you must, but don’t put your bad blood out into the world. There is always a chance that a boss could see your inflammatory posts and make you pay the price for them.
- The offense: Wasting time at work
The list of ways to waste time or procrastinate at work is nearly endless and is littered with offenses we are all guilty of: reading or posting on social media; reading articles that don’t pertain to your job; conversing or gossiping with co-workers; and checking personal email or conducting other types of personal business at work. Despite the vast numbers of people who engage in workplace distractions daily, these things can hurt your productivity and lower your value to the company.
The fix: Come to work ready to work. Sending an email here or talking to a work friend there isn’t the end of the world. However, these minutes do add up. Be aware of how much time you are spending on non-work-related tasks and try to improve your habits to keep your productivity and quality of work at a high level.
- The offense: Sexually harassing a co-worker
Sexual harassment in the workplace can take many forms. From frequently touching a co-worker or disrespecting his or her personal space to making sexual jokes at the office to repeatedly asking your co-worker out on a date, this behavior creates an uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe work environment.
The fix: Make a rule not to mix romantic or sexual feelings or advances with work. Don’t date co-workers, try to date co-workers, make sexually explicit jokes at the workplace, or otherwise intimidate or harass a co-worker based on their gender.
- The offense: Clashing with other employees at work
Sexual harassment is just one way that you might clash with colleagues at work. Rivalries, arguments, in-fighting, attempts to discredit a colleague and his or her work, physical altercations, and all other clashes interfere with company culture and make the office an unwelcoming place.
The fix: You will inevitably have disagreements with your co-workers, but always strive to settle them in civil ways. Become a master of compromise and empathy, working to see and respect the viewpoints of others. If a conflict with a co-worker reaches a fever pitch, ask your manager to mediate a conversation between you to help solve the issue.
- The offense: Stealing from your employer
From taking office supplies home to embezzlement, workplace theft is a major problem in modern offices. If you are caught stealing from your employer, you will likely be fired and you could even face criminal charges.
The fix: If you need office supplies, buy your own instead of taking them home from the office. If you have a company credit card, only use it for work-related (and work-sanctioned) purchases. If you have access to your company’s financial accounts, don’t assume you can get away with skimming money off the top. Respect your employer’s property, just as you would want them to respect yours.
- The offense: Doing your job poorly
Poor performance is perhaps the simplest and most common reason for firings. If you work slowly and aren’t getting projects done, if your work is ridden with errors or shows other quality issues, or if you consistently fail to complete projects (either on time or at all), then you will be in danger of termination.
The fix: Sit down with your manager to outline goals and expectations for your role. If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. If you have questions, ask for clarifications. Good communication helps drive strong job performance.
Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.