Eight Ways to Get Fired on Your First Day


As most anyone will tell you, first impressions are the most lasting. It’s said that it takes just one-tenth of a second for us to make our first impression of someone. If someone’s first impression of us is a negative one, that perception can be tough to shake.

On the job, first days are like first impressions. Not only will the company as a whole be forming their opinions of you and your work ethic, but you’ll be making literally dozens of first impressions on everyone you meet, on everyone you very well could be working with every day for the foreseeable future. So, every day, and especially that first day, it’s vitally important to be doing the things that create good impressions, and avoiding the things that not only create negative impressions, but could very well get you fired. Should you be placed on a job assignment with us (or anyone else!), here are a few things NOT to do on your first day (and every other day too, but especially your first day!).

Caveat: Please keep in mind that the verbiage below is geared in response toward someone who would actually do these things, not necessarily you or anyone you know! 

1.) Act like you don’t want to do something – I don’t care whether you were hired on to be a janitor or the Vice President of Operations, if your supervisor hands you a mop and a bucket, the correct response isn’t to point to a calendar, thus proving that no, it is definitely not April Fool’s, or ask who is really supposed to get the mop and bucket, or remind him or her that you, being (apparently) of some sort of noble birth, are too good for peasant matters like mops and buckets… nay the correct response would be to ask what needs mopping, then promptly and cheerfully set to work. There is a time and a place for straightening out job descriptions, but most places just pitch in and do what needs doing. If you indicate that you aren’t a team player, you likely won’t make it to the end of day one, much less day two!

2.) Whine and complain – This overlaps with the first point, of course, but the reason it deserves its own category is because nobody, and I mean NOBODY, likes to work with (or be within 100 feet of) a whiner, much less one they don’t know. If you want to get kicked to the curb faster than you can say ‘this job is so booooring,’ go ahead and say ‘this job is so booooring…’

3.) Talk about your former employer – Unless they specifically ask (and they will, if they want to know), employers don’t want to hear how the place you worked at before did things soooo much better than your current employer. Neither do they want to know how awesome your former boss was (think about that one for a minute…).  If that place was so great, Mister Former-Employee-Of-The-Month, why aren’t you still there? This works the other way too. Nobody wants to hear how bad your other workplace sucked, because it just makes you look like a whiner (see point 2).

4.) Violate a safety rule – Safety is not just in your best interest (after all, who needs missing limbs, endless rehab, and constant pain, right?), it’s in your employer’s best interest as well. There are multiple ways they get docked for accidents and injuries on the work site. Too many can even shut an employer down and cost EVERYBODY their job. Of all the quick ways to get canned on the first day (or any day, for that matter), acting uninterested during safety meetings and/or violating one of the safety rules put there for your protection is probably the fastest.

5.) Have attendance issues – Go ahead, roll in five minutes late in the morning, take a few minutes extra for lunch, or call out entirely anytime you need to take your uncle’s cousin’s niece to her doctor’s appointment. Show ‘em who’s boss… oh wait… Of course, this goes FAR beyond the first day, but making a first impression of bad attendance is one of the worst things you can do – if you want to remain employed, that is.

6.) Ask about full time status – If you are a temp, there’s a time and a place for checking to see if you have a shot at obtaining full-time status with the company to which you are assigned. Generally, however, that involves asking your staffing rep, not your supervisor (unless he or she brings it up, of course, and they might – if you are good). But your first day on the job, to a supervisor who isn’t even sure if you can read and write legibly much less run a machine, is certainly NOT the time or the place. Let your actions do the talking, and opportunity will come in due time.

7.) Talk on your phone – OK, we completely understand that your girlfriend had to take your cat to the vet today and she really wants to let you know how it all went right in the middle of your shift, but if you take that call, please be advised that the next call that comes out of that plant will probably be your supervisor calling us to end your assignment.

8.) Take excessive breaks – Lung cancer and multiple health problems aside, there is no doubting that smokers have it rough these days. They were banned from smoking in planes in the 80’s, and it’s all been downhill from there. I think there’s a field somewhere in the middle of Nebraska that could be a designated smoking area. Ask to take too many smoke breaks and it’s likely your supervisor will ask you to go find that field… While you’re gone looking, they’ll find your replacement.

There you have it. There are no guarantees, but NOT doing any of these things will go a long way towards ensuring that your first day isn’t your LAST day!