The past 5 jobs I had were ones I got fired from. Usually within 1-2 months. The longest I lasted at a job was 2 and a half months. I want to end this cycle.

I am a junior programmer with a degree in computer science. I've been trying to get my foot in the door for the industry. I'm going to summarise why I've been fired for all jobs.

job 1 - poor performance, sleepy at the job, didn't always listen. Was fired after 2 weeks.

job 2 - I was struggling keeping up with training and even when I struggled, I tried to hide it and that bit me back. Lasted one month.

job 3 - not skilled enough. I had great motivation and I listened. The company just needed somebody more experienced/skilled. Lasted 3 weeks.

job 4 - bad communication with the boss and very slow performance. This was no surprise for me since WFH damaged my productivity.

job 5 - not being transparent, bad communication, often late with handling requests. Lasted for 1 month and a half.

Now my problem is that I usually assume somebody would give me a very explicit warning before firing me, like saying "I will fire you if you do this again" but this never ever happened. I do notice I get told when I do something bad but they're usually not said with urgency or seriousness so I end up not taking it very seriously. Like for example somebody would say "try to communicate better next time" would often have me forget this advice. If they had said "if you don't communicate better next time, there will be consequences". Now I've learned the hard way to take hints seriously.

For my next role, how can I just stop getting fired and actually stay there at least a year? I know I've learned but I've become absolutely paranoid and anxious. My mind is telling me I lost my 5 previous jobs so I would logically lose the next one. I try to be optimistic but I always seem to make a little mistake I'm not even aware of which would get me fired.

All the 5 moments of being fired hit me with a shock. It hit me the hardest with my first job. I usually never see it coming. It always takes me by surprise. I always think I'm doing great, I'm putting in effort, then out of the blue I get invited for a talk, then suddenly being told I'm terminated. I do say I want a chance to improve but that's always rejected.

Another huge problem I have is I ask a manager/boss directly the question "how am I doing?" to which they'd usually tell me I'm fine, even though he was hiding his criticisms from me. I also feel bad for asking how I'm doing because it might hint to them that I'm aware I'm performing poorly.

I have thought about a solution to this huge problem. I was thinking what if I have daily standups where I ask "what am I doing well and what can I do better?" every single day so that if a person picked up on a problem I had then I could go and immediately fix it. I also thought of using weekly evaluation sessions where my performance is evaluated and at the same time I'd be given SMART goals. What do you think?

  • 10
    I was almost fired for bad communication in my current job. And I was given the same complaint during my internship at another company. I was too proud to ask questions or to admit that I didn't understand, so I pretended to get it and wasted time searching and trying to understand by myself. I was also too shy to ask for help. And I though it was my job and I shouldn't annoy anyone with my questions, so I wasted even more time. I also didn't know when should I tell them when a task is done. So I waited that someone asked me about it. If that's your problem, you should work on it.
    – Doliprane
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 12:55
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    Please talk to someone who can mentor you and give some career advice after getting to know you in a deep way, the internet can't help you with this. 1 or 2 job mistakes/firings after graduation is no problem, but 5 in a row is a lot. There's more going on here than just a rough start. The good news is you can drop these stints from your job history because you're just starting out. The bad news is you need some perspective to figure out what's going on so you can get it under control.
    – teego1967
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 13:39
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    I'm voting to close this question because you already listed the (presumable) reasons you were fired. The way to stop getting fired would be to address those reasons. With or without reasons, that would be more in the domain of mentoring and self-reflection than something we can help you with. "How do I communicate better" or "how can I perform better" (or "why was I fired") are pretty broad and requires a lot more specifics about your situation than we can address here. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 17:55
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    There seems to be a major disconnect between what your potential looks like during interviews and your actual performance once you start the job. How do you get/prepare for interviews?
    – Justas
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 18:15
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    I gotta ask - where are you finding these people that hire you despite being so unqualified (in their eyes)? Like, is it some secret job site where they hire anyone with a pulse? Can you please share it?
    – SquiddleXO
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 21:14

19 Answers 19


To be blunt, it sounds like you are not acting like an adult.

I've dealt with people right out of college/university, and as you are finding out, they leave you woefully unprepared for the workplace.

Work is not college, nobody will hold your hand, nobody will warn you, and as you are finding out nobody cares about anything but your performance.

I suspect that you are being very passive on the job, and this is translating to poor communication, and moving too slowly.

Look around at past questions and answers here, and see if any pertain to anything specific.

Also, I would suggest the books "Rhinoceros success", and "How to win friends and influence people" as well as "The seven habits of highly effective people".

Beyond that, when you start your next job.

  • Show up early, awake, and prepared.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Make your boss and coworkers aware of any issues EARLY
  • Solicit informal feedback from your manager and coworkers
  • Have reference manuals for your work available. I've been on the job since the 1980s and STILL do this.
  • Ask intelligent questions of your coworkers. By that, I mean ask questions where you can clearly describe the problem, what you've attempted, and where you are stuck.
  • Try to get more information about the expectations on the job.
  • Never assume things are going well. No news is NOT good news
  • Your coworkers are not your friends and they will not cover for you.
  • Never try to hide your faults, it makes you look weak and deceptive.
  • Don't rely on processes such as "S.M.A.R.T." goals. Learn what your management wants, set your goals and expectations, then go to management and ask if your goals/strategies/methods are in line with what they want.
  • On the interviews, sell yourself, but don't oversell your abilities.
  • Be confident.
  • Listen to feedback
  • Own your mistakes.
  • 10
    I love this answer above all the others. The only thing I would add is to perform a self-assessment and establish a personal growth plan. It's one thing to recognize a problem, receive feedback or be told something needs to be fixed. OP needs to establish a plan for correcting poor behaviors. It sounds (from reading the question) like OP has some distinctly terrible habits when it comes to work, attentiveness and accountability. Habits take time to change, and it doesn't happen on accident. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 16:51
  • Good points, though I'd explicitly add "be efficient in communication", i.e. don't use too much time and words to talk about anything, would it be some precisions you need for a task, some problems to explain, etc.
    – Pac0
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 7:21

I usually assume somebody would give me a very explicit warning before firing me

They did, but you didn't notice.

I do notice I get told when I do something bad but they're usually not said with urgency or seriousness

When people give you negative feedback, take it seriously. You're easily replaceable at that level. People are not going to waste time yelling and jumping around. Just a quick 'heads up' and if that doesn't work, out the door before it becomes an ongoing drama.

When/if you get another position the most important thing to remember is the same one faced by anyone with an unusual or possibly negative background. You will be under abnormal scrutiny, so it's not enough to be as good as everyone else. You need to be better in all ways from personal presentation, demeanor to the actual work.

You're not starting with a clean slate you have five previous terminations to your debit.

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    Just the fact that you are told something is bad is quite serious! Most people are conflict adverse enough that they'll rather just quietly fix a mistake rather than tell a person.
    – Borgh
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 9:12
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    @Borgh conflct-averse
    – jcm
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 9:40
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    Great answer. If there's one thing OP can do to begin to address these issues, this is it. Every time you get negative feedback from a superior, simply mentally append "..and if this doesn't improve, you'll soon be fired" and behave accordingly.
    – Alex M
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 19:04
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    "I usually assume somebody would give me a very explicit warning before firing me, like saying "I will fire you if you do this again" - sounds like me aged 20. Employers don't waste time like that, especially when there are people in the labour market who don't need telling not to do things. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 19:35

That's quite the history!

job 1 - poor performance, sleepy at the job, didn't always listen. Was fired after 2 weeks

"Sleepy" at the job can have medical causes - and I believe you stated in a comment that you had investigated this with a Doctor at the time. Companies may or may not be understanding on that side of things (you'd hope they would be but sadly many aren't), but the potential for understanding and tolerance with this sort of thing goes markedly downhill when it's all they've ever known and it's coupled with bad performance.

job 2 - I was struggling keeping up with training and even when I struggled, I tried to hide it and that bit me back. Lasted one month

If you're receiving training and aren't understanding something not saying anything is just wasting everyone's time, and it doesn't benefit anyone including you. I can't guarantee that a company won't can you for struggling with training, but they sure as sh#t are going to can you if you lie about understanding it and then go on to fail miserably at the job as a result.

job 3 - not skilled enough. I had great motivation and I listened. The company just needed somebody more experienced/skilled. Lasted 3 weeks.

It happens, to be honest if this was the only one you had it's unlikely to have been anything more than a footnote in your career

job 4 - bad communication with the boss and very slow performance. This was no surprise for me since WFH damaged my productivity

Not everyone is suited to WFH, and some people struggle to maintain productivity. But ultimately it's still within your control to do something about it - working from home didn't damage your productivity, you failed to adapt to it. In the absence of the option to work from the office (and the whole pandemic thing has removed that option for many in the last year) you really have two choices sink, or swim. And you chose to sink. It sounds harsh, and perhaps it is, but it's true never the less.

job 5 - not being transparent, bad communication, often late with handling requests. Lasted for 1 month and a half

At this point #5 is just cementing the patterns already established. Slow performance, poor communication, and "not being transparent", which sounds awful lot like a euphemism for trying to hide the poor performance.

Now my problem is that I usually assume somebody would give me a very explicit warning before firing me, like saying "I will fire you if you do this again" but this never ever happened. I do notice I get told when I do something bad but they're usually not said with urgency or seriousness so I end up not taking it very seriously. Like for example somebody would say "try to communicate better next time" would often have me forget this advice. If they had said "if you don't communicate better next time, there will be consequences". Now I've learned this the hard way to take hints seriously.

It's good that you've identified this as a problem, as you've hopefully worked out by now these sorts of explicit warnings are rare, and even rarer with new hires. As a new hire any negative remarks on your performance in the role should be treated as if they included the "there will be consequences" qualifier. If you don't get any negative remarks you should still be asking yourself continuously if there is any way you could be better.

For my next role, how can I just stop getting fired and actually stay there at least a year? I know I've learned but I've become absolutely paranoid and anxious. My mind is telling me I lost my 5 previous jobs so I would logically lose the next one. I try to be optimistic but I always seem to make a little mistake I'm not even aware of which would get me fired.

I apologize if it sounds like I'm beating you over the head here but this is not making a "little mistake" and getting fired, this is a repeated pattern of not doing the job they hired you for well enough. Writing this level of history off as small mistakes or bad luck might make you feel better (briefly) but it's not doing you any favours in the long run. I don't say this to make you feel bad, but to remind you that this is something that is in your power to fix, you have the agency here.

For your next role if you want to break the cycle you need to do something differently than you have before, do that, learn from your experiences and then - logically - you won't lose the next one.

So how to go about that? You made the following suggestion:

I have thought about a solution to this huge problem. I was thinking what if I have daily standups where I ask "what am I doing well and what can I do better?" every single day so that if a person picked up on a problem I had that I could go immediately fix it. I also thought of using weekly evaluation sessions where my performance is evaluated and at the same time I'd be given SMART goals. What do you think?

While I don't disagree that asking the "what can I do better?" question at evaluations - and possibly in additional ad-hoc ways if the timespan between evaluations is large. I'd stress very strongly that this alone is not a "solution", it's only one element of what needs to be a larger change in attitude.

So I'd be very, very wary of leaning too heavily on this - in many jobs you don't get formal evaluations particularly often (for several of my roles it's been annually), and trying to push this frequency up too much puts additional overhead on to your manager and can come over, well, needy.

The performance feedback loop in work environments is very different from the explicit one that exists in education, and there's a much greater emphasis on being able to monitor your own performance and spot areas for improvement. And to do that near-enough on the fly. I've seen many juniors struggle to get to grips with that shift, and it's difficult to teach people to do - it's very much something you learn by doing. You mentioned SMART goals in your question - not every manager is going to set them, but there's nothing to stop you setting some for yourself!

If you're always thinking about how you are doing, how you can improve, and acting on the results of that (whether or not your boss has said anything) you are taking charge of your own future - not just bimbling along until the next metaphorical bus hits you in the face. There can be such a thing has taking this too far - and that can be be unhealthy even counter-productive but I have to say that this:

I usually never see it coming. It always takes me by surprise. I always think I'm doing great, I'm putting in effort, then out of the blue I get invited for a talk, then suddenly being told I'm terminated.

Makes me think you're a long way from taking the level of self-evaluation and examination to those extremes. You're probably going to have to do a level of self-evaluation and self-management that will feel extreme, but only because, frankly, it sounds as though you've been way, way too lax at that so far.

I can't sugar coat this for you, that wouldn't be in your interests, you've dug yourself a pretty deep hole for your career right now. 5 firings in a such a short timespan is going to haunt your resume for a while. You might have to take a less desirable job, something very junior or poorly compensated because, as you've identified you need to get something and keep it for a good chunk of time. But you can recover from this.

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    "working from home didn't damage your productivity, you failed to adapt to it". Imagine an environment where you wouldn't want to work. Now imagine that you have to work there, and if you can't manage it, some random stranger on the internet will tell you that you failed. It might be true, it's still harsh.
    – njzk2
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 17:06
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    @njzk2. You need money to eat. Whether you feel good about not getting money or not doesn't matter if you're not eating. Reality is harsh. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 17:43
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    @njzk2, I don't think that's a valid comparison. If we are thrown into an office environment, we normally have a very little influence on it. But at home, we can shape the conditions to a much higher degree, even if we consider limitations such as the people we live with, flat size, etc.
    – BigMadAndy
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 18:38
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    @njzk2 While OP might not like working from home, it doesn't seem like he was sufficiently productive in the office environment either.
    – dbkk
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 20:53
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    +1 That's a great and thoughtful answer.It does look like a very tough spot and I feel for the OP.One thing you could add to this answer is to comment on why the OP has been fired so quickly even after passing the interviews.If he passed the interview, presumably he has at least some understanding of what he's doing.How does he lose that credibility in a matter of weeks, if not with catastrophically bad performance? (bad as in "cannot-write-fizz-buzz-bad" -but how did the pass the interviews then?)This is something other answers have pointed out and I agree, the story doesn't fully check out.
    – Ant
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 21:37

2 weeks is a really short time to evaluate general performance. I've gone two weeks in jobs just reading documentation without even getting an assignment yet. There is likely something else going on, like:

  • A severe personality conflict.
  • Excessive tardies, absences, breaks.
  • Severe grooming/presentation issues.
  • Lacking very basic skills.

I don't know you, and I'm not judging you. You need to talk to someone you trust to give you good personal advice, if you are having difficulty identifying these sorts of issues in yourself.

It's also possible you are applying to the wrong sorts of jobs for your personality and experience. In a medium to large company, you have more time and more help with coming up to speed. In a small company, or as part of a very small technical team in a larger non-software business, they are really going to count on you to ramp yourself up quickly.

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    +1 for thinking seriously about the jobs being applied to.
    – dbmag9
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 19:54
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    I've had a couple jobs tell me to spend a month learning tech that I didn't know. This case seems very odd. Though the op looks very green looking over their stack exchange questions.
    – rtaft
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 20:33
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    Totally agree. If you are getting fired during the first month it has to be a fundamental issue, not just a lack of performance. No serious manager expects great output/performance in the first month (unless you are working on a very simple project, small team, have all the right experience etc.). Either OP lied/misrepresented in the application process or they somehow ended up in completely the wrong jobs.
    – Michael
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 8:45
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    Indeed. Apart from one stay of 10 weeks, the average time was less than four weeks. While some of the other answers contain an element of truth in junior programmers being somewhat replaceable, the employer has still taken the time to interview, employ, induct, and train this person, and that means it's worth giving second or even third chances. They surely won't all get rid of a new hire in under a month, unless there's a really fundamental problem. I can't guess what it is without knowing the OP, but there seems sure to be something. Commented Apr 25, 2021 at 15:31
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    Getting fired after two weeks is what gets me. Typically someone isn't going to want to fire you after two weeks due to the paperwork alone from payroll and any benefits are going to make it undesirable. The only time I could see anyone getting fired after two weeks is if you were already stealing from the company or you lied on your resume/interview.
    – user126509
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 17:27

Realistically, you need to be talking to a professional-- a psychologist/ psychiatrist or a career coach-- not random folks on the internet. Getting fired after a handful of weeks several times is a very strong indication that there is some underlying issue that you're not seeing. If you're not seeing it, you're not telling us about it and we can't help you.

Managers are broadly resistant to firing people because it's generally the absolute worst part of their job. Firing someone after a few weeks makes the hiring manager look like an idiot so managers generally avoid that if the situation is salvageable. They'll generally try different things with underperforming developers for months before giving up. Hiring programmers is relatively expensive in terms of search costs, interview time, etc. which gives managers every incentive to give a new hire every opportunity. Expectations of a newly hired programmer fresh out of school are pretty low (as they should be) to the point that it's generally hard to get fired that quickly for poor performance. Very few managers are going to fire someone for performing slowly in their first couple of sprints unless there is some major underlying issue.

The fact that you've been fired five times despite all the incentives that the manager has not to fire you that quickly points to some significant underlying issue. Your manager may be saying that the problem is that you're not delivering quickly enough or not communicating well enough but it's unlikely that's the main reason let alone the only reason. That's just the reason that is easy for them to say and hard for anyone to disprove. Most fresh graduates have pretty close to 0 net productivity in their first few weeks-- you're spending more time getting them up to speed on the environment and the development process and answering questions than they're delivering in useful work. And most fresh graduates struggle with effective communication-- setting that expectation and helping the new hire meet it is part of the onboarding process. But it's hard to imagine that you could miss that many deadlines in a job you've only held for 3 weeks.

If you talk to a professional, they should be able to evaluate you and help you identify what the real issue is as well as help you come up with strategies for improving. Maybe you've got a medical/ mental health issue that is making it difficult for you to succeed. Maybe you've got an issue with how you present yourself that is driving managers to want you off their team. Maybe it's some other life skill that wasn't a part of what you're being graded on during your educational career that is a big deal in the working world.

Your college's career office may be able to offer some assistance to you directly. If not, they should be able to help you identify potential resources. Your health plan should also cover some number of visits with a mental health professional.


The other answers are good, but I want to add some aspects that you might be missing:

  • Why is there no hard warning? An employee that expects being fired might start doing harmful behavior (copying sensitive data, introducing malicious software, whatever). 99% of employees will not do it, but the potential harm is so big that many companies may not give hard warnings out of principle.

How to counter this: Actively asking is good, but can annoy a busy manager/boss. Find an experienced colleague who is not nice, but honest. Ask them for feedback. Ask different people as well.

  • Sometimes you will be given false reasons for being fired. Example: If you insult the boss or used sexist slurs, this would be openly mentioned as a reason. But if your boss was annoyed by you or if female coworkers just perceived you as “creepy” (without you doing any specific wrong deed), nobody will tell you “We will fire you because xyz thinks you are annoying/creepy.”. They will instead pretend it was work-speed or inflate some minor existing issue. Same thing applies to mundane things like bad breath. It certainly also applies to racism/sexism aimed towards yourself - although that would have prevented you from being hired in the first place.

How to counter this:

  1. Ask private connections if you give off an odd vibe to people of other age/sex/culture/subculture. If all people close to you are (for example) male nerds, you will need to find someone else to ask (and it may already indicated that people outside of this subculture do not perceive you positively). You can also hire a professional coach for feedback.

  2. Being liked is sometimes more important than being good. If your boss (and colleagues) enjoy working with you, they will likely keep you longer even if you are not up to speed within the first few weeks. That does not mean being slimy, but be sure people can relax around you, are not annoyed too much. Reading body-language and paying attention to the habits of others in the office can help a lot.

  3. Establish off-work connections to some of your short-time-colleagues. After being fired, ask one of them on some private channel if they could keep their ear open what the real reason for your firing was. They might give you better insight than any official channel.

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    This is a good point. For a junior dev position I would never assume someone is going to be up to speed in under a month - getting fired in a shorter time than that indicates something other than “performance” the way we’d normally think of it is in play.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 12:18
  • "It certainly also applies to racism/sexism aimed towards yourself - although that would have prevented you from being hired in the first place." Not necessarily. If there's a mandate that X% of new hires have to be [insert minority here], a bigoted manager could try to game the system by hiring X% of employees who belong to that minority, then firing them shortly afterwards for minor performance reasons during their evaluation period.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 16:37

If we take this at face value, the reason why you get fired is clear: Your performance is significantly lower than what the employer expects. The only real solution here is to improve your performance, or find employers with lesser expectation. I won't go into detail about how to accomplish these things because those would be separate questions (and probably asked already on here in many variations).

What is strange to me is how quickly you've been fired. Assuming you've had a typical interview process that takes 2-3 weeks, any major flaws you have would be apparent to the employer and they wouldn't hire you in the first place. If you had an obvious, major flaw they discovered after 2 weeks as in job 1, why didn't they discover it during interviews? That leaves me to conclude that one of the following is true:

  • You are really, really good at interviewing. If so please tell the rest of us your secret, but also, don't take the highest job you can get. Go for something easier.
  • Your employers are really, really bad at interviewing. Now occasionally you get a company that doesn't know how to interview but it's here and there. You wouldn't get a string of 5 just by chance. That means something about what you're doing is selecting for companies that are totally rubbish at interviewing. Maybe it's just how your resume and cover letter is written, or maybe it's just which ones you decide to apply for.
  • It's not performance, it's something else, and performance is used as cover. For example, if you piss off the CEO on your first day, you would probably be fired, but they're not going to say it was because you annoyed the CEO. They'll say some generic reason like "poor performance". But in your case, whatever this something else is, it's something consistent enough that you've done it 5 times in a row.

To summarize, what you said makes no sense. Firing people months or weeks (!!!) after they started is not good, it costs the company a lot of money. It wastes all the time and effort spent on hiring you, training you. It makes the guy who hired you look bad, makes the guy who fired you look bad, makes the guy who managed you look bad, disrupts the work of people already working there... And in such a short time they don't get any useful work out of you to offset these things. So people don't get fired that soon merely for poor performance, they get fired for catastrophically bad performance. And the whole point of interviewing is to eliminate candidates who will perform so poorly they will need to be fired right away. As a result, you should carefully review the situation to see what critical points you are overlooking.

Since OP clarified that he does indeed consider himself very good at interviewing, I'll expand on that point a bit: Interviewing well is a useful skill and there's nothing wrong with that per se. The problem occurs when you promise things you cannot deliver. So there's two ways to approach this:

  • Manage expectations by emphasizing the ramping up stage. Your position should be "I'll be really productive, but not for the first 1-2+ months". If you simply ask a lot of questions about onboarding and how they handle setbacks this already implies, whether intended or not, that you anticipate a non-trivial learning curve when you start. If you are running into problems with unfamiliar technologies, you can also point out that you don't have much experience with parts of their tech stack - of course you probably want to show at least some familiarity to be hired at all, but you don't have to say you know every single piece of software they use (and then be expected to use it immediately).
  • Take the same dedication with which you studied for interviews, and apply it to basic job survival skills in your domain. It should go without saying that, at least for the first few months, you should always do everything your boss says. If you are unable to finish a task, make sure you have put an appropriate amount of effort into it, and be able to clearly explain to your boss how far you've gotten and where you got stuck. Understand what the day-to-day is like for jobs you're applying to, and make sure you have at least some basic ability to navigate that. For example, a job where using git is bread and butter, you want to learn as much git as you can before starting if you claimed that you know it in the interview (and you shouldn't really claim to know things if you don't).
  • 2
    I have indeed sharpened my skills at interviewing. I failed a fair amount of them and learned very quickly what to say and what not to say. I think this impresses my employers and raises their expectations which further bite me back Commented Apr 25, 2021 at 16:01
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    @MrHunchoJack Fair, updated answer.
    – SquiddleXO
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 17:38
  • Read your point, looks solid. I don't make any crazy promises, I'm always straight, things go wrong when a manager makes assumptions. They see I speak well and assume I can do the job. This doesn't help because my manager isn't a software engineer and doesn't understand the job. How can I for the future lower an employer's expectations without under selling myself? Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 15:49
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    @MrHunchoJack It might help to get better at estimating how long it will take you to do certain tasks, and justifying it to your manager. For example if manager wants something done in 2 days, but you think it would take 10, that is okay so long as you can explain what parts are taking so long.
    – SquiddleXO
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 21:10

There’s a lot of good content about how you might modify your behaviour in the other answers, but I wanted to suggest that you get checked for Asperger Syndrome or other high functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Computing science students have a "geeky" stereotype that might be associated with ASD. Developers tend to be quite a forgiving bunch, but I think you might be missing social cues when colleagues warn you about your performance. Missing social cues could lead you to take these warnings less seriously than intended. And apparently ignoring these warnings from increasingly stressed out colleagues will make you very unpopular very quickly.

My advice? Find out if you are possibly further along the autistic spectrum than your average colleague. If it turns out you are, mention it on the first day in a new job. People might communicate more explicitly or be fractionally more forgiving if they know you don’t naturally pick up on neurotypical social cues.

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    As someone with Asperger's that won't help. It's overdiagnosed, and used as a crutch far too often these days. It's the behavior that needs to change. DX or not, you still have to live in the world with everyone else. Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 15:19
  • @Old_Lamplighter, I agree that ASD is possibly over-diagnosed these days and that the OPs behaviour will have to change. There is still some advantage to having an "easy label" so people can try to understand. Moreover, with a defined set of characteristics to look out for, the OP might be more able to identify and understand their own problematic behaviours. Different isn't always worse, but it can make it harder.
    – Pam
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 9:55
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    Nothing is "problematic" as that is just a buzzword. The OP needs to change his behavior, and labels cause more hard than good. ASD includes people with downs sydrome, where it is 25 times more prevalent than in the general population to autistic savants, to very mild cases. Worse, when that label gets out, people tend to have their own idea of what it means, depending on what type they've been exposed to. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 11:35

A somewhat extreme answer

Consider joining the Army. This is an extreme answer, especially for a programmer, but the fact is that you are currently broken, and you need to fix yourself. The army is really very good at forcibly fixing what is wrong with you, and they absolutely will give you the feedback that you need to fix yourself, and continuing to give it to you (in increasingly unpleasant ways) until you do just that. It is a commitment of multiple years, and it will involve many experiences that you will not enjoy, but when you come out of it, you will no longer have your current problems, and you'll be far more employable.

I made that deal myself, as a young software engineer. I came out the other end, and I have not regretted it since.

Navy's okay too, if you like boats. Marines might be a bit much. Air force...? Maybe not enough. Go Army.

  • 4
    I could agree that the military is good at getting you to do what you're told and improving your fitness, along with some other potential perks, but whether you'd be glad you did it afterwards, actually survive though it (mentally, but also physically), come out happier on the other side and not just fall back into old habits, not to mention whether this would even address the underlying cause of the asker's problem, is another question entirely. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 14:44
  • 2
    @BernhardBarker: I don't have data or statistics to cite, and over the course of my military career I knew a lot of individuals who were very much like OP describes in himself, and when they left the military they were not the same. Beyond just the mentality, the habits that get formed (just to survive as you mentioned) are irreplaceable. YMMV. In my experience this is definitely something I would recommend to anyone considering changing how they live their life. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 20:25
  • He has a university degree, which means he'd be joining as an officer - and I'm just a civilian, but I doubt that someone who's been fired five times in a matter of weeks would be likely to make a good officer!
    – nick012000
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 16:41
  • 2
    @nick012000 as a man with a university degree he could apply to join as an officer, but they do have OCS review boards for things like that. On the other hand, even if he does get in as an officer, he's got Basic, OCS, and OBC to hammer some of those dents out.
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 16:53

poor performance, sleepy at the job, didn't always listen. Was fired after 2 weeks

Do you know why you're actually sleepy ? I have Sleep Apnea (severe), and for everyone at my first job I'm pretty sure that wasn't what they were thinking (got diagnosed far later). If possible seek medical advice to see if there isn't anything wrong with you.

not skilled enough, poor performance, very slow performance.

Despise having Sleep Apnea I was still able to get the job done, even though my productivity is more like spikes than being continuous.

For whatever reason you seem lacking both skills and attention. For the skills, I assume you might have not practiced enough before starting searching for jobs. The advice would be to get some self practice. Get a technos you're interested in (or one highly demanded on the marker) and set yourself some objective for an entry level.

For instance :

  • Being able to setup your env dev yourself
  • Being able to setup an application with the technos you're using yourself
  • Being able to build yourself something simple and well written for instance, a web page with a table listing data from a database, and some buttons to create/edit/delete those. Do it properly while following how the technos are supposed to be used.
  • Being able to make a simple installable delivery of your project.

Once you have actually understood how a library/framework is supposed to be used, you will get better performance.

For the attention problem, it depends if it comes from a medical condition or not. You could try to put a headset on and get some music.

For the communication, I don't have much advice as I can't say if you're having a simple behaviour problem or a medical one.

  • For my first jobs, I did go to the doctor and my employer knew about it! Since I told them. I said I had sleeping problems. They knew yet still fired me ruthlessly. I think my attention is good. I'm a software engineer after all, we must stay focused. I have built some apps which are hosted on github, so I've got something to show. I am actually competent at the job but I believe I lack some of the soft skills Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 9:11
  • That still doesn't explain why they're saying your slow ? It's possible that you got people that only want you to rush code while you're writing something maintenable. If it is that, then you maye have aimed for the wrong employer. Or even if you have technical skills, your still legitimately too slow. However in the current Q&A format, I can't just take guess. You might want to go to the chat (I can't) and have some discussion with people so they can understand better the situation you're in before giving an answer.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 9:40
  • 10
    @MrHunchoJack your comment here indicates (to me) a certain lack of self-awareness. "I'm a software engineer after all" and "I am actually competent at the job" are contradicted by reality. Many companies will overlook rough edges if they see strong potential. Until you take a long, honest look I'm afraid you'll have a difficult time.
    – jcm
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 9:45
  • 2
    Then I suggest you edit your question and focus more on the problem left on your last job. " not being transparent, bad communication, often late with handling requests.". -> BTW you want to develop what you mean by "often late with handling requests". If you didn't do it, when you received requests, answer as much as you can to let them know if there are enough information and if you are actually able to handle it in the delay they want it done. And give examples how you "badly"/"non" communicate
    – Walfrat
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 10:10
  • 3
    My colleague, who I am pretty sure has Aspergers, kept falling asleep during meetings and at his desk. His manager said "We can do this two ways: medical or disciplinary". He didn't want the medical route, he told me, because he knew (he said!) a hypersomnia or narcolepsy diagnosis would prevent him getting a driving licence(!). He has very poor eyesight (needs a screen magnifier) and I hope he never gets a car. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 19:46

The company just needed somebody more experienced/skilled.

This is probably the problem. You are selling yourself as having a degree in computer science but you are not as experienced as you think you are (or at least those hiring you think) and therefore you fall through.

Now that you know what those hiring you need you to do, I would suggest practicing on doing that. For Android write something solving a need you or a loved one have, and then get it on the app store (this is more important than you think), so you solve all kinds of small problems encountered in your own time while looking for new work. Put the source on Github or similar for the world to see.

(And regarding the soft skills - if reading other people and their not-directly-spoken intentions is hard, you might also have a challenge here. Autistic traits are over-represented amongst programmers)


Sleepy on the job? Sounds like you need to change your routine. Jobs that require us to sit in front of computers all day cause eye strain and mental fatigue. It can be difficult to perform when you just feel "blah". Here are some tips that may help you stay employed:

  1. Take walks on your breaks, and stay off your phone or other screens as much as possible when you aren't at your workstation. This will reinvigorate your brain and put you in a better state-of-mind to tackle difficult computing problems (or focus on mundane ones).

  2. Have healthy snacks at your workstation, so you can keep your blood sugar up. Personally, I like dried coconut and I bring an apple to work. I also keep a rice cooker at my workstation in case lunch-time won't be showing up soon enough (keep some furikake or shoyu for flavor). I have coworkers that prefer canned tuna and beef jerky, but the main thing is to have non-sugar options that won't make you crash. Don't drink a bunch of energy drinks at work! Caffeine + Sugar will not get you through the day on a regular basis.

  3. Use a sit-stand station, or at least get up and stretch regularly. Make your work area ergonomic and comfortable but don't get sedentary.

  4. If going to sleep at night early enough is difficult, get yourself some nice relaxing music or meditative sounds so you can get to sleep regularly.

  5. Load up your mp3 player (yes they still exist) with lots of good music and put on the headphones while at work. This can easily boost your mood and keep you focused.

And now for the most important part. Get the work done! Learn needed skills in your off time, work smarter, ask for help, check your work for mistakes and fix them, and get into a work routine that gets the job done.


I like the answers here but I'd like to take a different approach to this. First off, I think you should look at the positives here. You were fired 5 times, and despite that you were able to go to interviews, land a job, and work at the job.

I think you're being too harsh on yourself. You're thinking way too much about getting fired instead of concentrating on what you can do. You're able to land a job each time you get fired so you're not as lazy or tired as you think you are.

I would just keep going at it. Oftentimes you got to look at your situation and think, "Is this something I did to myself or did the situation just not align?" And I think in each case you identified some areas you can improve or work with. For example, if you find yourself tired at a job, perhaps it is to do with the time the job starts. Maybe look for jobs that matches your sleep habits. It took me a long time to get used to waking up at 6am after college and I'm sure that is true for a lot of folks.

  • You are right. I was unlucky in many instances. I have learned so much already from all these jobs and everytime I get knocked down, I'd find myself another role and try again Commented Apr 25, 2021 at 16:03

Years ago I was in a similar situation. I was fired from my first 2 jobs out of college. My first job lasted 8 months and my next one lasted 1.5 years. The official reasons given to me were similar to yours but those were just "bland" reasons they give to anyone they want to fire. My real problems were personal, and even if HR knew about them they wouldn't comment on them for fear of discrimination. My real problems were:

  1. Severe untreated ulcerative colitis
  2. Depression
  3. Sleep Apnea

Given these personal problems, it was literally impossible for me to be a successful employee, these things HAD to be fixed first before anything else.

  1. If you have severe untreated ulcerative colitis or Chon's disease your life is going to be a wreck. I literally showed up late to work because I was in the bathroom too long and my insides hurt so bad. One time my boss asked me why I was taking so many bathroom breaks (an EXTREMELY unprofessional question) and I literally did not want to tell him. Not to mention your sleep will be rather horrible because you are in so much pain.

  2. I think a lot of my depression was due to my physical condition. I didn't feel well, and that made me extremely unhappy and unwilling to make friends or even leave the house for long periods of time. I was in an extremely bad place mentally and even after I was treated physically, I needed to see a psychologist for years after before I felt my depression start to lift.

  3. Sleep Anpena sucks too. I would get 9 hours of sleep every night and still feel groggy in the morning. I'm pretty sure my managers thought I was out partying every night or a severe alcoholic rather than someone who just didn't sleep well. If you have this problem, see a doctor and he will refer you to a specialist as it's an easily treatable problem.

Eventually I had these problems treated and I was much happier. For a few years I had to work some less desirable jobs but I was eventually able to recover and get a job in my field that I was happy with.

I realize my above experience is anecdotal and there is a good chance none of these are your specific problems. That being said, you need to take a good hard look at your personal problems and see if they are holding you back. I was in denial about my problems for many years. In the end the only thing I'm sorry about is that I took so long to address them.

  • Not to be rude but we had to fire a guy with Chron's after 1.5 years and he hadn't lasted more than 5 months at the job before (or any Internship or Research position up to that point either). While him having Chron's definitely played a part of it with our more bigotted manager, his work was just awful and he refused to ask for help. I am sure in your case (and many others), it was true but in some cases, chronic illnesses are only symptoms to the larger problem.
    – user126509
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 17:40
  • I suppose it is hard to tell weather he was a bad employee because he had the disease, or simply because he was a bad employee. That being said, if someone is sick, miserable and in massive amounts of pain, that could be just as debilitating as being deaf or in a wheelchair. Unfortunately corporate America is very accommodating to the deaf/handicapped, but they are unsympathetic to someone shitting massive amounts of blood every day of their life. Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 4:10

For bad communication I suggest using more emails so that you can have proof as well as assurance of covering all the areas about the work. For being sleepy I suggest you to have check-up. It might be a health issue such as anemia or something like that. Also you eat better and take care of yourself and your sleep. For attention problem I kindly suggest not think of anything while you were doing something. I had this issue when I was student. I used this tactic and it worked. Meanwhile you can try to appreciate and enjoy your work or get curious about it as a fuel. Also, be sure of yourself!! Do not get too affected. You are a well educated person and not less valuable for sure. You said you are in software. Why not having a side gig related to your profession assuring you that you can always have somewhere else to go if you can’t find anything or for the risk of being fired. Wish you all the best


I cannot comment on why you are getting fired personally like others have because I do not know you or your situation and being told you need psychological/psychiatric is rather inappropriate. You divulged personal information, somewhat and some of the answers are really a mistreatment of you, in my opinion, kind of like being on a reality show and airing your personal business.

With that said, I can say that losing 5 jobs in a row in a few months does speak to something about you, what it is exactly, again I do not know, but if you have ever heard of the phrase "learn from your mistakes".

In my experience, ending up in these situations is due to lack of information. Are you asking the right questions in a job interview to ensure its a right fit for you?

That will speak volumes to you if they are being even a bit honest.

During a job interview a lot of companies are also trying to impress you, so they will always put themselves in a positive light.

Also, do not assume to know what is expected of you, make them outline what their expectation of you is. I think sometimes the interviewer/company assumes that they did make their expectations clear and in my experience that has not always been the case and it leads to communication issues and problems down the road. So always ask for clear expectations in your first month, first three months and so on. A lot of that also has to do with the health of the company, most people are not good communicators, now imagine you have a whole company of them.

Another big question to ask or safely assume is a probationary period.

You really have to take a look at what were you fired for? How can I avoid next time via asking the right questions during a job interview?

Do not be so hard on yourself, these days a lot of new tech companies and by new I mean those that started around 2012 or so, they have a new approach to running a company that as a former business owner and someone of an older generation, I find a bit harsh in my opinion, check out what I mean below:


Look at their tip number five for being a successfully bootstrapped tech company, "fire fast"...wow, not a place I would enjoy nor last long. The move fast here buddy or go eff yourself is not my type of company, it sounds more like a Wall Street trading floor than a company of engineers who think architecture and deign patterns through in a logical and academic way.

So all this talk about, companies don't fire you for any little infraction, because it cost them money. This may have been true a generation ago, but the company that wrote the article above is a whole new generation, the generation of "fire fast" or if nobody on the team likes you, you go, no just cause, no nothing, just the vague, "you are not a good fit".

So vet your interviewer is recommendation number one.

Two, ask the hard questions, try to find what they may not want to necessarily present up front but will, if asked. I assure you once again, the company in that blog probably does not say, "welcome, just so you know we fire people fast here". Why? Because as a Developer you can always go with the other several companies knocking on your door.

Three, if it was a skill level thing, practice your craft everyday. I guarantee you with practice you will get better at your craft, but the office politics will always remain.

By the way, I have owned a couple of small businesses, in addition to my Developer career, so nothing wrong against entrepreneurship.

Hone your skills on recommendation number one and two. It will take some years to do, so go easy on yourself. So when you got fired the second time, you should have really taken a break and asked your question then, not at termination number five, but regardless, you sought help here and I hope my answer can provide something additional to help you on your career as you will need it.

All the best.


You are clearly good at meeting with people, but it seems not with getting the work done. More recent posts by you bear that out. You are probably better suited to a sales-type role or even a field technician, where you meet new people every day.

The suggestion, above, that you try the army would also work well for you, because in that role your tasks every day are set out for you. You would enlist as a private, not try to get into officer school.

  • "More recent posts by you bear that out." what are you talking about? This user has not been online since this question was asked (this information is from their public profile). Given that the only real information in here is... questionable and secret even if it existed, there is not much informational value left.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jun 23 at 7:34
  • He or she posted in 2023, according to their public profile. It was another question about behaviour in his or her job.
    – The Walrus
    Commented Jun 23 at 9:57
  • @TheWalrus - This question, the one you answered, isn’t from 2023. This question was asked before the author submitted additional questions about getting fired.
    – Donald
    Commented Jun 23 at 18:19
  • Sure, but that new information is relevant to understanding the earlier post.
    – The Walrus
    Commented Jun 23 at 21:58

I would like to give my 2 cents.
Have been in the same shoes,sleepy, but at least I was not able to go over 6 months.

Surely I was not fit at the same time for the job and in a second time there was a not beatiful situation. What really helped was to change the first part (finding the right role). Finding the right role meant at time understanding that Coding was not my role while now I can code better than before, but I would never become a SW.

You should be curious about coding but at same time you should be eager to understand the concept and create something from scratch or applying it with easyness. If the last part is not easy for you, then coding or Software Engineering is not right for you.

After getting fired in 5 jobs I would recommend you to contact a professional therapist and start working on yourself but also to think on another career path.


It sounds to me as if you have had some poor luck with those roles. I don't believe you should put it down solely to your behaviour, or something lacking in yourself. People get fired all the time and often there is nothing they could have done differently.

That said, I think it would be helpful to focus on what your responsibilities are as a software developer/engineer, so I will outline them below:

  1. To understand the requirements. You need to understand what your manager or other stakeholders are asking you to deliver. If you do not understand then it is your responsibility to communicate this. If the requirements are not complete enough for you to move forward with 100% certainty, it is your responsibility to communicate any assumptions you are making to your managers/stakeholders in order to move forward.
  2. To be aware of deadlines. As a software developer it is your responsibility to be aware of all milestone and deadline dates for all your deliveries. If you are unaware of your deadlines, communicate this to your manager. If they are not prepared to give you a deadline, then communicate a commitment date to them which represents when you think you will be able to meet the requirement. At any time, for any reason, you think you will not meet a deadline, communicate this immediately to your manager, along with your new commitment date, and the reasons for this.

That's basically it. As a software developer you basically have 2 responsibilities; know what you are doing, and know when you have to do it by. If you can do this, then hopefully you will be able to hold onto your future jobs.

  • 12
    I'm not usually one for down-voting answers, but this one is just blatantly off. People don't get fired all the time and there is nothing they can do about it. Personal accountability is at the core of every performance termination (which from OP's description has been all 5). While these 2 bullet points are at the foundation of software engineering, just doing these things would not be enough for someone to stay on one of my teams. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 16:58
  • 4
    Add to that he is in IT- IT people are a wanted commodity. You may hire and fire at McDonalds, not the guy you spend time selecting for a programmer role.
    – TomTom
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 18:14

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