How To Lose a (New) Job in 10 Ways


Most GovLoopers are looking to move up or move out to the next great gig. There’s lots of great advice on this site about how to do just that. But if you’re not sure if you want to climb the career ladder, here are ten guaranteed ways to sabotage your own success:

  1. Stay underground – Don’t get to know colleagues from other departments or agencies. At training events, keep to yourself and don’t meet new people. Think twice about joining professional organizations, and certainly don’t get actively involved in them or volunteer for leadership positions on their committees.
  2. Stop learning – Stay away from professional journals, interesting articles, or water cooler discussions about new technologies and ways that government is delivering services. Focus on what you already do and know, and don’t let new-fangled facts and trends change the way you’ve always seen things.
  3. Avoid healthy conflict – It’s best not to voice your opinion if it is different from the group’s thinking. Bringing your ideas to the table could cause a debate or maybe even some disagreement, and that is awkward.
  4. Hog the spotlight – Make sure that your accomplishments are highlighted and the contributions of others take a supporting role. While this might seem like a key to success, it actually helps make sure you damage those pesky workplace relationships.
  5. Never share your contributions – This is the opposite of #4, but is just as effective in making sure you don’t get that great job. As long as you stay totally behind the scenes, and never let managers and execs see your creativity and talents, no one can identify you as a rising star. (Women, we are especially good at this one.)
  6. Be unpleasant – Getting along with others, sharing in conversation about family and hobbies, and supporting colleagues through illness and loss are all ways to make friends in the workplace – something you want to avoid. To lose that next promotion, it’s better to be moody, or just plain uninterested in other people. Negative body language also helps.
  7. Do the bare minimum – Aim for the “meets expectations” check box on that annual evaluation form. Do just enough work to get the job done in a basic way. Be sure to leave exactly on time every day of the year. If you have an idea for a new program or project, bite your tongue.
  8. Fib a little – Integrity is one of the most valued traits in an employee, and so make sure you don’t have it. A lie here or there, keeping important information from your boss….these things probably won’t get you fired (at least at first), but they will keep your reputation damaged so you’re not short-listed for promotions.
  9. Stay away from responsibility – Supervisors are looking for the people they can count on to deliver results under pressure and when it’s most important. So be sure you’re not that person; don’t volunteer to help when you see the team is up against a deadline or struggling with a big problem. Missing deadlines of your own, and not following up can also help you be seen as undependable.
  10. Never say “I’m Sorry” – Owning your mistakes, and the mistakes of your team, are the hallmark of a superstar. Instead, you should come up with some excuses, or even better, find a way to blame others.

What else can you do to avoid moving up? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Lori Sassoon is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Avatar photo Emily Jarvis

These tips are fantastic! I might also add don’t forget to be yourself. Often when a person starts a new job they try to blend in or act differently.


Great article. I particularly love #7 because I have a coworker/cubby mate who takes a short nap several times a day.

I am not sure if we should make an extra effort to make friends in the workplace and ask questions about one’s family, etc. I am very cautious of who I talk about my family with at work. Workplace friendship should emerge naturally.

Thanks for your article.