“You’re fired” made the current president of the United States famous and it’s among those sentences we dread the most in life.

Yet firing employees is a natural part of a business cycle.

Hiring a new person for a role is always full of risk, no matter how good the vetting process is.

While there are a number of reasons that could lead to companies saying the three words, some reasons keep popping up more often than others.

It’s a good idea to examine these top reasons for being fired to ensure you don’t end up being guilty of the same blunders.

The top 12 reasons can be divided into three major groups: reasons of poor performance, of inappropriate behavior and of qualifications.

If you feel cold sweat building up as you read the post, don’t worry!

I’ll also provide you quick solutions to ensuring you’re not fired because of these reasons.


If you had to pick the most obvious reason for someone losing his or her job, you would probably say it deals with the performance.

After all, it’s rather obvious that if you’re hired to perform a role and you can’t do it, you can’t hold the job for long, right?

The issue with performance goes further than just not being able to perform the work – the following are the subtle reasons employers might show you the door.

1. You don’t meet the required performance standard

Every position comes with its required tasks and requirements.

If you are a cook at a restaurant, you don’t just need to be able to cook the meals but do it within a specific timeline and to a specific standard set by the head chef.

Naturally, if you’re not able to meet these performance standards, your boss is probably going to show you the door.

2. You don’t show up to work on time

People are also fired for not showing up on time.

One study found 4 in 10 employers have fired someone for this exact reason.

When you enter employment, your contract specifies the hours you need to work and often outlines when you need to come to work and when you need to leave.

If you are not able to hold on to these commitments, especially if you are late on a regular basis, your employer will fire you.

3. You don’t show initiative or the ability to perform above the minimum requirement

Employers are also looking for their employees to show initiative and work to a high standard.

Therefore, if you only perform the absolute bare minimum, your employer might feel the need to fire you. Your inability to show any commitment or interest toward the role can lead to dismissal.

4. You lie about your sickness or you take time off without proper reasons

You can’t avoid being sick and an illness is not a legally valid reason to fire anyone.

However, if you lie about your illness, you are in trouble. Calling in sick when you aren’t in sick is not going to get your boss to tap on your head. You also can’t start asking for extra days off for no valid reasons.

It’s OK to seek for permission to skip a few days if there’s a family emergency, but not for having fun with your mates.

Not having a proper reason for taking time off can get you fired – in fact, 15% of employers told in a CareerBuilder study to have fired someone for just this reason.

How to ensure the above reasons are not a problem?

If your performance is holding you back from staying employed, the obvious solution is to improve your performance. That’s not really helpful advice to give to anyone.

So, what are the concrete steps you can take to avoid the above four reasons to being fired? Whenever you are hired for a role, the first thing to do is to understand the expectations of the role. You need to know:

  • What are the tasks you need to perform – a detailed list of the things you should do during the day, month, or project.
  • What are the metrics you are measured against – can include things like selling a certain number of products or achieving a specific rate of return on the projects you are leading.
  • What are the expectations you need to meet – any other expectations your boss might have, including attracting new customers or solving the problem in a specific amount of time and so on.
  • How to deal with a low performance – you also want to understand how you should deal if you notice your performance dropping. Perhaps you can talk with the management during the process to ensure you get the right support or guidance.

Performance related problems could also be down to lack of scheduling skills. If you find yourself late every day, you clearly need to learn to time your mornings better – waking up earlier to catch an earlier train and so on.

Boosting your scheduling skills can even improve your ability to perform better and accomplishing tasks quicker.

Check out some basic tips from the video below:

Overall, if your performance is not up to the highest standard, consider ways to motivate yourself more.

Create a list of the things you love about the role and the benefits it will provide to your career.

Focusing on the positives can help you feel more motivated and passionate about the role. If you can’t seem to learn to love your role, then it’s probably time to think about changing it before you get fired!


Keeping your job is not just about performing your tasks.

You can also be fired if you behave inappropriately.

Employer’s image can be damaged if employees don’t behave professionally and therefore, many dismissals are based on violations of the code of conduct.

5. Your abusive use of alcohol or drugs

You can’t show up to work drunk or high on drugs.

Interestingly, the approach to alcohol use during the day has changed over the years – just recently, the Lloyd’s of London announced it’s putting an end to workers being able to have a drink during the lunch hour.

Nonetheless, even if you could have a drink with your clients, you certainly can’t get drunk or have your alcohol use hinder your quality to perform your role.

Certain jobs also take a strict ‘no drug’ policy –jobs involving children generally are strict about things like drug use.

6. You abuse or harass your colleagues or the customers

Employers want to ensure a workplace is a great place for everyone.

You certainly wouldn’t want to work in an environment where people pinch your bottom or are abusive to you verbally, would you?

Inappropriate behavior can and often does lead to people being fired.

The figures for the prevalence of sexual harassment at work show the problem is real and employers don’t want it to cause problems at the workplace.

As well as taking a strict line against abusive behaviour towards your colleagues, your employers are also ready to fire you if you don’t treat the customers appropriately.

While you are needed to service the customers, the business can’t survive without paying customers, so treating them right is imperative to holding a job.

7. You make social media blunders

One of the more modern reasons for being fired is social media conduct.

Alarmingly large numbers of people seem oblivious to the fact that you shouldn’t start dissing your employer or customers on social media.

A woman working for RBS was fired for posting on Facebook about a possible layoff in a celebratory manner.

The posts were damaging for the bank and therefore, she didn’t get compensation. You can even be fired because you make some socially inappropriate remarks, as one PR executive found in 2013.

She posted a racist message on social media, which led to an outrage and a dismissal.

8. You damage company property or you steal from the company

Have you ever stolen from your company?

A high 90% of employees answer ‘yes’ to that question, according to a 2013 survey of retail and service industry employees.

Unfortunately, if you steal from your boss, you risk being fired.

Damaging the company property, especially on purpose or without proper care, or stealing from your employer is a valid reason for the boss to say you can start packing your bags.

9. You are disobedient

Now, listening to your boss all day long and fulfilling his or her every wish might sometimes seem annoying.

Although it is tempting to start disobeying those wishes or not following the ‘stupid’ rules, you could be facing the boot if you decide to go through with your plans.

You certainly should be able to raise your concern with the management style, but continuous disobedience is unlikely going to go down well with the boss.

How to ensure the above reasons are not a problem?

What can you do if inappropriate behavior is the problem and you find yourself guilty of some of the above instances?

First, take a hard look at your behavior and figure out why you are doing it.

If you have a problem keeping the cork on the bottle during the week (and even the weekend) or you are abusing drugs, your private life is probably going through some tough times. You need to admit to someone you might need help and please don’t feel scared of seeking professional help.

If your boss knows you are looking to change the situation, he/she might be able to offer more support and help you get through the tough times at work.

Sometimes being upfront and honest with your boss can be a good thing.

For example, if you need to take time off, ask, don’t just do it. You might be pleasantly surprised or you might not, but at least you don’t risk your job for lying about it.

Getting along with all sorts of colleagues is perhaps the harder thing to master at the workplace.

Admittedly, listening to other people can be a pain at times and you can’t be best friends with everyone. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get along.

You need to start respecting other people’s opinions, become better at dissolving conflict and having an opportunity to vent your frustration somewhere else than the office. Lifehack’s four secrets to getting along with people are definitely worth keeping in mind when you feel like shouting:

  • Know what triggers you and learn ways to stay calm – deep breathing, walking away or squeezing a stress ball.
  • Master the “stop phrases” – These are the respectful ways of drawing boundaries.
  • Don’t get sucked into the arguments – Know when to simply walk away and stop justifying or defending your position.
  • Accept that we’re all human – Your most annoying colleagues are also human and their behavior might not be driven by being mean, but trouble in personal life, for example.

Finally, let’s just quickly tackle social media. While it might be great to think you can be free on the Internet, you have to understand how the Internet works:


Perhaps yelling isn’t quite required, but you really, really need to get a grip on acting like a mature adult online.

Your boss might see it – if not your current, your future boss could definitely be checking you out on Google before you are offered the job.

Keep your private and public profiles separate. Add only your friends and family to private profiles to view your drunken photos if you wish.

And remember the golden rule of social media: if you don’t need to be a mean person, don’t! Don’t let your instant reactions to be negative – find constructive ways to comment and converse online.

And do not start talking negatively about your employer – just don’t. Keep in mind the below rules of social media and you won’t be fired:

Source: The THINK Rules of Social Media – from the Staff at Teach Thought


The final reasons for people being fired are to do with their qualifications.

You might think there can’t be an issue with this; after all, the company has hired you with knowledge of your qualifications.

Yet, there are people out there whose CVs don’t quite live up to the expectations.

10. You lie about your qualifications

If you lie in your qualifications and the boss later finds out, you are surely going to be signing up with job agencies soon.

An example of lying could be telling in your CV that you received a First on your university degree, even though in reality you passed with a Second.

These are the outright lies – claiming you have a qualification, you actually don’t. It doesn’t have to be about your degree either; you might state you can drive a car, even though you actually don’t have a driver’s license.

Lies about your qualifications are a big no-no and will lead to the determination of your contract.

Are you shocked to find the above reasons in the list of the top reasons people are fired?

I’m not and you probably aren’t either soon – according to a CareerBuilder study from 2015, around 56% of employers have caught a lie on a resume.

11. You lie about your ability to perform a skill or a task

Bosses also have the option to dismiss you if you’ve lied about your ability to perform a specific task or if you’ve claimed to have a skill you actually don’t have or at least you are not as good at is as you said.

Let’s say you listed Spanish as a language you speak fluently on your CV.

Once you’re on the job, your boss might recommend you to deal with a Spanish-speaking customer.

The problem is you don’t actually speak the language beyond the usual “Una cerveza, por favor” and “Hablo solo un poquito español” – and if you couldn’t understand those sentences, you definitely shouldn’t add Spanish to your CV.

Suddenly your boss realizes that you’ve lied and the trust might be gone for good. You might have also claimed to be able to cook desserts, even though you’ve never made a soufflé.

This kind of dishonesty might not be quite as bad as outright lying of qualifications; nonetheless, it has been enough for bosses to fire people.

12. You can’t obtain a qualification required for the role

Finally, you might also fail to obtain a qualification required for the role, which is a reason for the boss to fire you.

Your job contract could include a clause to gain a degree in an accounting course the company puts you on. If you are unable to pass the course after numerous attempts, your boss will have to show you the door.

How to ensure the above reasons are not a problem?

Behavioral and performance related reasons for being fired are perhaps a bit harder to rectify.

You do need to work hard to ensure you’re meeting the performance requirement and it can be a bit more difficult to ensure you don’t lash out on your boss or colleagues.

But ensuring you never get fired because of your qualifications is easy. All you need to do is stop lying – even those ‘white lies’ that might seem beneficial.

The truth is the only reasons you might feel compelled to lie is because you don’t think you’d get the job or the task if you were honest.

Instead of lying your way into a job, why not just improve your qualifications and skills to ensure you do get that role?

If you think the ability to speak another language would boost your chances of landing a role, go ahead and start learning.

By lying about your qualifications, you risk being fired and adding yourself to a ‘blacklist’ – yes, recruiters and employers can and do share information about candidates!

By being honest about your qualifications, you don’t take risks – you might not get the job right now, but you will probably find something else. If finding a job seems hard, just try improving your qualifications.

Self-deception can be harmful and lying is not going to further your dreams. If you’re interested on the topic, check out the TedTalk on the psychology of self-deception:


There are many different reasons an employer might fire you.

In terms of the most frequent reasons, people are shown the door due to behavior, performance or qualifications.

Some people pretend to be Oxford graduates while others might have trouble getting up in time.

Hopefully, by reading the above post, you can realize whether you are sabotaging your employment and if you’re in the risk group of being fired from your job.

If you are, just identify the reason and take steps to correct your behavior or past mistakes.

Honesty with your boss might seem like a bad idea, but it’s often much better option than lying and hiding.

And remember, while employers tend to fire employees due to a valid reason, you should be aware of your rights.

Always read the employment contract from start to finish and understand the employment laws regulating your company’s employment decisions. If you feel the dismissal is not lawful, you can appeal in employment tribunals.

Here Are the Top 12 Reasons People Get Fired (Are You Guilty of Any of Them?)

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