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How to get fired

Denise Dubie | Sept. 8, 2009
IT professionals can do a lot to avoid layoffs, but they may be unwittingly doing even more to make themselves a target for downsizing.

A pet peeve of mine is people asking companies for more than they are willing to give, says Rich Milgram, CEO of, an online job board. There has to be some level of mutual understanding about what contributions can feasibly be made on both the employer and employees side. There are low- and no-cost training options if the employee is willing to make the effort.

3. Snoop in systems

It goes without saying that IT workers shouldnt abuse their access to company confidential systems, but industry watchers warn that if layoffs are going to happen, those high-tech pros with questionable practices will be the first to go.

It is really easy for an IT person to see what others are doing and to look at confidential data, without being caught, says Beth Carvin, CEO of Nobscot Corp., a maker of employee retention and other HR-related software based on Kailua, Hawaii. But if you are suspected of some shady stuff, that would be reason enough to bring your name to the top of the layoff list.

And even if the practices arent breaking corporate policies, IT professionals need to be on their best behavior. Try to avoid abusing a flexible schedule with long lunches and dont use your high-tech position as a reason to spend too much time on the Internet for non-work-related activities.

If you are the person viewed as someone just logging their hours to collect a paycheck and dont plan to contribute more than the minimum, management will see that and you will become vulnerable, says John Reed, district president with Robert Half Technology.

4. Make demands

Pay cuts, hiring freezes, layoffs none of these factors suggest its an appropriate time to ask for a raise. Yet experts say some will use their ongoing service to a company during a recession as a reason to demand more money and other benefits.

Now is not the time to ask for a raise; now is not the time to complain about needing more time off, Sullins says. In these cases, the squeaky wheel will get the shaft.

While it may seem to IT pros they are going above and beyond and deserve compensation for their efforts, those in the position to fire staff might not want to hear it.

Right now, employees should be nodding their heads a lot, not being surly or pushing back on responsibility, says Sean Ebner, regional managing director for IT staffing and recruiting firm Technisource

5. Spew negativity

Employers now more than ever want positive attitudes on staff, and those spewing negativity will be weeded out.

The truth is that everybody from a technical standpoint is replaceable. I notice more than anything the negativity an employee displays. Negativity is contagious, and once an employee goes that route, it is nearly impossible to turn them back, says Michael Kirven, principal and co-founder of IT resourcing firm Bluewolf.


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