5 Reasons Why Your Boss Wants to Fire You


Ryan Ong



Do you suspect your boss hates you? Do you think those narrowed eyes suggest that, as soon as the next review comes up, you’ll be eating stale Cheetos out of someone’s trashcan? Well, maybe it’s just paranoia. But if you’re at the point where you’re even thinking about it, odds are you may be right; and you’d better do something fast. In this article, I examine why your boss might want to fire you. And just maybe, what you can do to prevent it:


1. You Lied on Your Resume

So you told a few lies on your resume; but that was long ago, and it’s over right?

Yeah, in the same way Japanese war crimes are “over”. It’s not uncommon for local firms to screen employees years after hiring them. Through companies like First Advantage, your employer can be notified about every fake reference you made, often overnight. Screening companies are basically licensed stalkers; you can’t lie about the state of your drawers without them knowing.

If your boss calls you in to “clarify your references”, look out. Odds are, HR just conducted a screening, and your lying head is in their cross-hairs.

Solution: Obviously, don’t lie. But sometimes, your references may fail because of business closures or restructuring. Contact your listed references, and make sure their numbers still work. Also, get copies of any certificates or records you may have lost; you may need them soon.


Frowning man looking at resume
“So what you’re saying is you discovered the formula for immortality, but then you forgot it.”


2. You Don’t Adapt to Change

How did you behave during the last restructure? Or the last time you were asked to change a procedure?

Singaporean workers have a peculiar trait: they cling to their work routine like it’s some kind of religion. And even if they’re forced to change, it’s accompanied by endless griping, which they want the boss to overhear. “We’ve used method X since 3500 BC, and the new method blah, blah.”

Thing is, companies sometimes need high level changes. A shift in product lines, for example, or an upcoming merger. Whatever the case, they often restructure long before the big change. One reason is to see who copes, and who doesn’t. And by acting like a teenager who’s had his Xbox confiscated, you’re putting yourself in the latter group.

Solution: The cleaning aunty can be as loud and change-resistant as she likes. If you want that privilege, go do her job. If you have an eye on your career however, stop griping about change. If you must complain, state the facts of how the changes are a bad idea. Do it on the record, and once is enough.


Notebook on top of an iPad
“Yeah, I’ve definitely learned how to use the company’s new iPads.”


3. You Asked For It, Grouchy

Quick question: how would you like to sit next to the building’s hot air vent?

Yeah, thought so. Your boss feels she’s in the same position, whenever you start whining about how tough your job is. Contrary to what you may think, this doesn’t make you look competent. Rather, the opposite is true. When you spend every lunch hour comparing your job to select scenes from Saw, your boss might decide to put you out of your misery.

Bear in mind: your actual performance is not relevant to this. You may be meeting every deadline and quota. But if you play up how hard it is, you’re suggesting that you’re barely making them. Your boss starts to think you’ve hit a limit: you cannot be given more work without seizing up and dying. Their probable solution? Get someone else who can handle it.

Solution: If you’re asked if your job is hard, go ahead and be honest. But don’t slip in a “my life is hell” message every chance you get. Don’t hang around the pantry or other people’s cubicles, explaining your various tragedies in detail. Besides, studies have shown that expressing your fatigue can actually fatigue you more.


Oscar the Grouch
Meet Ryan, our web editor and your new colleague.


4. You Think Your Job Description is Sacred

Beware these five words: “Not in my job description”.

First off, it doesn’t work in Singapore. Maybe it works elsewhere (I doubt it), but here, your employer sets your job description. If they’re not asking you to do anything illegal, you need to do it. Or they can fire you on grounds of insubordination. And that, by the way, is in your contract.

Now, even if your boss lets you get away with it, think about the message you’re sending. You’re basically saying “I’m refusing to do it, because I’m too incompetent to figure it out”. Yeah, that’ll make you a candidate for the next raise.

In short, even if your boss lets people get away with this, she doesn’t have to. She’s choosing to let it go, and don’t assume there won’t be consequences. When headcount needs to be slashed, these are the first people out the door.

Solution: When asked to do something you don’t know, say that you lack experience / instruction, but you’re happy to try. If you’ve already turned your boss down several times, try to make up for it. Show initiative by volunteering to do things, or by proposing projects of your own.


Soldiers loading a machine gun
This IS in the job description for our tech support.


5. You Think Work Hours are Guidelines

If you’re slaving in the office and you miss a deadline, your boss might be sympathetic. But if you’re in the habit of starting late or leaving early, it looks a lot more like your fault.

See, when you’re never around and missing deadlines, it could mean something. Like maybe you aren’t working too hard. Or even worse, that you don’t take your job seriously. In some lines of work (education, delivery, and healthcare) turning up late is a severe offence; enough to get you fired regardless of your performance.

Solution: Even if your boss didn’t say anything, apologize when you know you’re late. Don’t leave early without asking first, and don’t make a habit of it. Never say you’re leaving early because you’ve run out of work; you may as well send an e-mail saying “I have too much free time and you overpay me”.


Me, eyeing the clock
“Close enough, give or take 7 hours. See you tomorrow guys…maybe.”


Image Credits:
Gangplank HQhannah.rosenThe U.S. Army, iamcootis

Have you ever fired or been fired for the above reasons? Comment and let us know!

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.