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The past 5 jobs I had were ones I got fired from. An issue I have is in interviews I appear to be very bright which raises the expectations of an employer, and often this leads to disappointments. Last job I got paid significantly more than the average for a junior developer so of course I couldn't keep it. I got fired

I'm young in my 20's, graduated in computer science, living in Europe (don't want to reveal my real identity). The country I live in has great laws protecting employees

What I'm trying to do is somehow lower the expectations of an employer (during interview) without coming across as incompetent. I also must not come across as very capable. By no means am I some Ronaldo programmer. Also not some complete idiot. I need to find this sweet spot of expectations so that I can last in the job and actually grow.

If I fail this, I'd just get fired again. Too often have colleagues and employers told me I come across as very intelligent and confident, but when they see my work, they see junior level work. I am a junior after all trying to learn. I'm a sweet talker, I know what to say and not to say. It helps me so much score jobs but not keep them! I want to break this cycle

I am by no means making crazy promises like "I can do this and that". The only promises that I make are that I will work hard, do my best to learn and stay motivated. I have noticed that some employers tell me "I thought you could do this and that" while I never promised it. Assumptions are made and they are destructive.

How can I keep expectations realistic, remind employers of my real skill level and remind them I'm not promising anything?

Edit: I am indeed applying to junior level jobs, and I do remind employers/recruiters that I'm not suitable for senior roles

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  • 1
    Just ensure that you target a junior developer position. They can hardly complain that they hired a junior in a junior level position, surely?
    – Steve
    Apr 25 at 17:13
  • 20
    Being fired 5 times in a country with "great laws protecting employees" suggests there is much more going on than appearing bright in interviews. Apr 25 at 17:21
  • 2
    Programmer, in the 20s only but still had already 5 jobs, employee protection laws and still lost your job -> all this looks like you were in a probation period that wasn't converted it into a normal employment, right? This should/could be a bit better to explain than getting fired out of the blue for something after years of employment. Was the Covid situation a part of the problem too? The first thing you need to analyze your problem is to ask an employer for honest details about why you got fired. Did you?
    – puck
    Apr 26 at 4:42
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    Does this answer your question? How can I stop getting fired? I have been fired 5 times Apr 26 at 13:35
  • 3
    @JacobHorbulyk It's literally the same poster. He's asking this question as a follow-up.
    – zmike
    Apr 26 at 19:04
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Sorry to be so direct, but I don't think indirect hints are helping you:

If you got fired 5 times, most of the time only lasting weeks, this is not due to wrong expectations. The time it takes to assess a new person on the job by their peers, give feedback to the bosses, give feedback to the new person, see if they maybe improve, this cycle takes months for junior software developers.

It is extremely unlikely that you were fired for miscommunicated expectations five times in a row, it is highly unlikely that you get fired even once for this.

So if you get fired before normal companies can even complete their evaluation cycle, it must be something else.

I don't know you, I don't know what it might be, but it is something so severe, that companies say "we need to get rid of this person now, we see no perspective for improvement of this issue at all". Other than totally faking your credentials, I cannot see how this is related to your actual job or your skills on the job, something that can always be improved.

You will need to find a person honest enough to tell you what the problem is. And then work on it. Maybe contact old colleagues from a few jobs back and ask them for an honest evaluation of why you were fired.


You remind me of a guy I knew. He had started 10 days earlier than me in the same job. When I started, I noticed our team lead saying to him "hey, please keep the 10 points improvement list in mind, you did not respect point 7 again today". I was shocked. 10 days on the job and that person had a written 10 point improvement plan from their boss. Everyone knows that a PIP is basically a bureaucratic way of firing someone and having a boss go through the trouble of writing down a 10 point improvement plan in that person's first 10 days is... crazy. However, said person was happy as pie, thinking that since he managed to fulfil most of the points most of the days, everything is peachy.

Now I liked that person, he was a really nice guy. But I had to agree with the team lead that those behaviors do not belong to a workplace. That person did not mean harm, but he'd still insult people. Direct colleagues, project managers, random other workers of the company in the mess hall. If I had chosen to, I could have felt offended multiple times.

He was subsequently fired. I think he was quite surprised and I don't think he fully understood why.

He is a smart guy. And he knows how to program well enough. But that is not the only things that count in a workplace.

If you get fired so fast that the people cannot possibly have assessed your skill level correctly, please find some people courageous and honest enough to tell you what is wrong. It's very likely not programming skill.

12

You're analyzing the wrong problem

If I'm reading the situation right, you posted this question: How can I stop getting fired? I have been fired 5 times

... and then latched onto the possibility that "It's because your performance and interview level don't match". But... that's not what most people took away from the original question - most of the answers/comments were not pointing that direction. And, well, most of the comments/answers on this post are telling you you're not on the right track.

For example, from your original post:

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.

... that doesn't scream "They just expected too much of me - I must've been too good at the interview!" That screams "I'm a junior new-hire that didn't actually listen when being told I'm doing something wrong."

So my advice is: stop this train of thought. Your interviewing probably isn't the issue here (as long as you're not BS'ing your ability to do things that you actually can't.) The more time you spend thinking about the 'interview' facet, the less time you spend on self-reflection to figure out the actual problems.

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You could target your proven skillset instead of persisting in one that keeps failing you.

Marketing is always looking for people who can sell the seemingly unsaleable at more than the going rate even when it has obvious flaws.

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You know your level of skills better than anybody else.

So instead of relying on someone else, try to apply for a job which you feel suits your level and doesn't require more from you (which you currently can't do).

In the meantime, you can learn from your job, improve your skills, do some extra courses if possible and apply for a better job once you come to know you have the ability to that work.

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The past 5 jobs I had were ones I got fired from.

Yikes.

An issue I have is in interviews I appear to be very bright which raises the expectations of an employer

Something doesn't add up here. Sure, you can oversell yourself in an interview once or twice, but that doesn't happen 5 times in a row. Any half way decent hiring manager that sees that type of job history will have all alarm bells ringing and would deep dive into the potential root causes. I'm guessing something else is going on here or you are not sharing the full story.

How can I keep expectations realistic?

  1. Analyze the root cause for your firings. What exactly happened and why. Even a non-trivial skill gap typically doesn't lead to a firing, but some constructive corrective action. If you can't figure it out yourself, talk to a mentor, career coach or some trusted person with workplace experience. Could behavioral, misrepresentation on your resume, personality, cultural etc. It's very unlikely to be only skill.
  2. Address the root cause. Fix whatever gets you fired.
  3. Make sure you are open, honest and realistic in an interview. Present your strength and weaknesses accurately as they are, that's all that's needed.
  4. Make sure that job description and compensation are inline your skill level. Make sure you and your hiring manager agree on what that skill level is.
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Intelligence and wisdom are two things, take a wiser approach

It's not about managing their expectations, it's about realistically assessing your skills, and applying to the right jobs.

TLDR

  • Realistically evaluate your talents and skills
  • Read job orders carefully
  • Don't even apply to jobs that are beyond your skills and talents
  • Ask questions on the interviews.
  • It has to be a "good fit"
  • Don't take a job just because it is offered

Take a few online tests to give yourself a better idea of how good you are, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Now that you've gotten some idea of what the workplace is like, begin to carefully evaluate yourself. When you apply for jobs, look at the job orders very carefully and don't even apply to jobs that are outside of your expertise.

On the interview itself, ask as many questions about the duties of the role, what would be expected, day to day, how much throughput is required, and any other thing you can think of. That way, you will have an idea what you are getting into.

If you are not suited to the role, decline the job, if offered. It is perfectly acceptable to tell an employer that you think the job would be beyond your abilities, at least for right now. An employer would much rather have you decline a job on that basis than have to go through firing you. It might also earn you a few points of respect if you ever apply in the future when you are more experienced. If you ever apply to the same company in the future, you will have two things to your advantage: That you know when you are in over your head, and that you know when to say "no".

Go for the right fit. This is almost a cliché` at this point, but being a "good fit" is of paramount importance. You can be Jesus in a three piece suit as far as skills and talents go, but if you don't fit in with the team and culture, you will not prosper.

Lastly, just because a job is offered doesn't mean you have to take it. It is worth it, especially at your age, to take your time and find the right company and the right role. You don't want to get fired again, or worse, end up working at a job you hate that will eventually take a toll on your mental and physical health.

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I have the following suggestion, though this is would lower your overall interview success rate.

When you answer questions during interview, make a distinction between knowledge and skill.

If you just read about something and/or went through tutorial is different from using this tool / feature in a production code. My assumption is that it won't be a problem for you to do the same type of work again.

So, your employer would know what you can do "out of box" and what would require coaching.

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The past 5 jobs I had were ones I got fired from.

They're telling me to be nice to you because you're a new user so I'm not trying to bust your bubble too ferociously here but I'd say if you want to lower their expectations you're off to a great start! (enthusiasm) Just go charging in there and open with that little gold nugget and their expectations are instantly lowered.

I seem to have quite the opposite problem though TBH. In interviews I appear to be a bumbling idiot who never gets hired for any job but I'm quite capable when I want to be. I may be dumb but I'm not stupid. Lol.

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  • Do you mean I should tell them I got fired 5 times? That is the truth but if I shared that, I'd never get the job Apr 27 at 15:52
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    So you lied to the last 4? They may be finding out you were previously fired, after hiring you.
    – Dan Chase
    Apr 30 at 4:15

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