You struggled through your job search, got through several rounds of job interviews, and survived the negotiation stage. You got the job! Congratulations. Now, the real work begins. Don’t blow the opportunity you received by becoming too comfortable at work, with your co-workers, or with your social media accounts. Here are simple tips to follow so you don’t get yourself fired:
1. Do the Work.
Sounds simple, but a lot of people work hard to get the job and then begin to slack off once they get to the workplace. What a lot of employees do not realize is that they are being watched very closely in the beginning. No one wants to get stuck with a bad employee, and the first few weeks and months of employment tend to be a probationary period in which employers decide if you truly are a good fit for the company. Consider your first few months on the job as another round in the job search, because if you fail this round, you may find yourself unemployed and back on your computer, scanning job boards for a better fit. Even if you get past the probationary period, you should never allow yourself to fall into a rut. The work you do now is grooming you for your future at the company and the rest of your career path.
2. Go Above and Beyond.
After you get your bearings, don’t just do your regular job; do your best to stand out from your co-workers. Whether it be managing up and anticipating your supervisor’s needs or helping your co-workers out on projects you find interesting, you need to make yourself indispensable to your employer. It’s hard to fire someone who doesn’t just do his or her own job well, but who helps others succeed, too.
3. Don't Expose Your Personal Views.
The first two points deal with actual work experience, but you can get fired for things you do outside your job duties as well. In recent months, especially during the election season, we’ve watched as several business professionals have come under fire for making racist and sexist comments dealing with the former POTUS and his wife. Those people have either been fired or have been pressured to resign, all because they decided to speak their minds in a way that was offensive to entire races, cultures, religions, and genders. They did so with the mistaken belief that they were protected under the First Amendment. And yes, they can’t go to jail for expressing their views, but free speech is not a protected class. It’s not the same as race, religion, sex, or disability. If you express hateful views, your company can terminate their relationship with you, especially if your comments impact the company’s reputation or its bottom line.
4. Be Careful About How You Use Social Media.
But social media is for my friends and family, so how can someone fire me for sharing something they aren’t supposed to see? Social media may be for friends and family, but if you do not check your settings, then offensive photos, posts, etc. might be seen by the public. In addition, if co-workers are friends, you may need to start becoming more selective about who you let in your social media circles. There are a lot of ways your employers can see what you don’t want them to see, so that time you called out sick, but were seen partying until all hours of the night on Snapchat, could come back to haunt you. The same can be said about photos highlighting your embarrassing behavior, especially if you are client-facing. Even a joking insult toward your company or supervisor on social media could pose a major problem for you if your employer discovers it. Just be careful.
5. Be Mindful of How Relationships at Work Affect Your Work.
We are currently asking business professionals to take our annual Office Romance Survey, which examines how many co-workers have engaged in a romance with a colleague. Through this survey, we find that many companies have a policy about dating in the workplace, but a great deal of survey respondents actually do not know what the policy is. What you do with a co-worker outside the office (and, in some cases, in the office) can ruin your stellar work performance, especially if it causes the company undue problems, such as decline in work productivity, co-worker discomfort, or even a potential sexual harassment case. Even if you are involved in a romantic relationship with a vendor, who is not really a co-worker, there is the chance that it could hurt the company’s bottom line. Your need to find love could result in a need for a new job.
Work is work. By its very name, it doesn’t have to be fun. In many cases, work is an enjoyable experience, but if you are going to work for all the wrong reasons, you may not be a good fit for the company … and they may discover that before you do. Play it safe.
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